They arrive in a forest, there were trees everywhere to the point it was hard to make out anything. Nature surrounded them; the sounds of wolves can be heard from a distance. The dark woods were only illuminated by the moon, the soft glow from it helped them see through the darkness. The muddy ground made it hard to traverse, the wetness from it wasn’t enjoyable to anyone.
The group walked with caution, all of them were prepared for any sort of attacks that came towards them. Their caution was rewarded when they managed to avoid a pitfall trap, only Junk nearly fell into it.
They soon arrived at a cabin; it was old and moldy. The old wood was brittle, a soft breeze could probably knock it over if someone tried. The door had no lock, but instead, it was left wide open. Interior-wise, it was dark yet spacious with only a candle illuminating the whole room.
[A new challenger I see?]
All eyes turn towards the stranger by the table.
[It has been a while since anyone came here.]
The stranger stared at them, waiting for a response.
[Won’t you play a game with me?]
All players have gathered in the cabin!
Start the game?
They want to get this over with, the cabin feels wrong for some reason.
All players are ready!
Goal: Escape the forest.
Rule 1. Nominate 1 player as the challenger.
Rule 2. Everyone else shall be sacrificed as cards.
Rule 3. Should you choose to, a card can sacrifice itself for a boon or bounty.
Rule 4. The challenger must work together with the cards.
Rule 5. Sacrifices have to be made.
Rule 6. Every game has a rule to follow.
Rule 7. Physically attack him and you’ll see the consequences.
Rule 8. Run.
“So, we have to nominate one person, I’m going to break this silence and ask everyone if they have played Inscryption before?” Only Platy and Cheesy had played it before, both well versed in the game.
“So Platy, how far did you get in the game?”
“Oh, I finished it.”
It was unanimous, Cheesy will be the challenger and they’ll be the cards.
The camera in the strangers’ hand flashed, he was alone now.
Alone with 7 cards and a goal.
Sometimes I wonder, what would happen to me if I forgot everything? Would anyone notice if I forgot about them, the thought of it makes me shudder. I still can’t remember much of Cheesy and Kara, I should feel guilty. But I don’t, I should feel guilty for forgetting. They were my friends, they were…
They ARE my friends; they still care about me. Why am I thinking that they aren’t my friends?
Do I truly see them as a stranger, is this what it was meant to be? To forget my friends and be a puppet to their games? To always forget what friendship meant, to forever remember what this void feels like.
Maybe Platy could help me, he’s a good friend. I hope I can remember him, Max had been a good friend.
I don’t want to forget him, please don’t let me forget him.
[Let me recall your story.]
They were lost deep in the forest, stranded together, lying to each other. They found a cabin, there was already a man waiting for them. There was a table, it was made for two. There were eight souls, but only one was needed. He was left alone; the fate of his friends is in his hands. Reality hit him hard, he was young and he didn’t like that one bit. Cheesy was their only hope right now, the weight of this task struck him down hard. He thought he would need to fight multiple battles, but the map showed that there were only seven places to go.
Seven places, seven cards.
This shall be fun.
There is a world where Platy played and they all died within the next hour.
There is a world where neither Cheesy nor Platy played, they stayed there for weeks before starving to death.
There is a world where Someone else played the survivor, their voices were never heard from ever again.
But this was the world where Cheesy stood tall and fought till his last breath.
[Tay. Her might is her soul, strong yet defensive.]
The mule was key, her card ripped it apart in seconds. It felt strange to see her so violent, she cared for them. She was warm and caring, but in this game, she was a powerhouse. He watched her shred every card that she came across, it felt oddly hypnotic. Like a song and dance of blood and gore. Even the Caustic Adder stood no chance against her. But unfortunately, she falls from grace as the elk pierces her with its deadly horn. She was already weakened from the battles before; she stood no chance.
Cheesy, I believe in you!
[Junk. The old man with new beginnings, new stories, and new experiences.]
There was an altar in the woods, blood long dried from previous sacrifices. He could probably sacrifice Junk if he wanted to, but he knew that the old man could probably save him down the path. But he doubts it, he was like a squirrel. He was only blessed with a sigil, to grow strong with the new day. He eventually decides to sacrifice him for his sigil; Junk didn’t protest. At that moment, Platy gained a new sigil.
It’s ok, it was for the greater good.
[Chilled. Paranoid and logical, but for a good reason.]
The birds tried to attack him, Chilled was having none of that. He defended him from the malicious attacks, taking their talons to protect him. Chilled may be a jerk most of the time, but he has a big heart. The onslaught continued, yet Chilled stayed true. His story ended when the talons ripped him apart, his defense wasn’t immortal. Yet he saw that Chilled was happy, he did his part at least.
Let’s do this Cheesy, we got your back.
[Ze. Kind yet dangerous, a predator in disguise.]
There were 4 great white sharks, he was backed into a corner. He had no other cards to play, he only had Ze on hand. He had a sigil on him like everyone, yet it wasn’t one that he recognized. (He can see the inner conflict within his eye, confused and scared alone in the dark.) He placed him down and the sigil lights up, the ground shakes. The sharks are gone, just like they never existed in the first place. But Ze was also gone, he never got a chance to say anything. He hopes Ze is ok, he wants to get this game over with.
[Shubble. Heart of sugar cares for her family.]
He only had a turn left before he lost, he needed a way out again. He has Shubble on hand, so he decides to play her. It was a good choice, she did her job swiftly. The bears that came next fell to her, one round, and they were gone. It was a shame that she lasted only a turn, for the Adder has poison and she isn’t immune to it. She saved him, he’s thankful for it.
Come on Cheesy! Beat them up!
[Platy. He who defends is always filled with love.]
He found a campfire on his travels, strangers watched him as he approached them. He knows what this is, he chooses Platy to warm up by the fire. He feels the cold get washed away by the warmth of the fire, he grows stronger by the second. He can see one of the strangers try to grab Platy, he pulls him away as fast as he could and leaves. Platy was stronger than before, he knows that he will save him in the final battle.
Come on man, you got this bro!
[Kara. Burning passion and yet her actions feel cold.]
Platy was down, there was only Kara left. A 1v1 against her and a Wolf, the odds aren’t looking good for her. He watches as a claw strikes down toward her, she’s going to die. But another sigil reveals itself on her, she has thorns. Kara fights back, she isn’t a coward. But she wins it for him, a single hit away from death. But she was exhausted, she never stood against the forest itself.
This is where I go, move on Cheesy.
He reaches the edge of the forest, so close to freedom. He wants to walk out and be free, but the stranger stands in his way. The game was supposed to end, there was nowhere to go on the map. Something isn’t adding up.
[You thought this was the end? Well, you have to go against me first!]
He recognized him at the prospector, he has nothing to play. He’s out of cards, he has nothing left to draw.
[Pitiful, and I thought you were someone special.]
He’s going to die, he failed them. Even if he beats him, there’s still the fisherman and everyone else.
[Well, I guess this is it.]
He doesn’t want it to end.
Is this how you want it to end?
No, he wants to survive.
Don’t you envy your friends? Unaware of the dangers you currently face?
Yeah, he wishes that everyone else was here with him.
But don’t you want to prove to them that you are capable?
Don’t you want to be recognized, to not be written off as a child?
Don’t you crave the spotlight? Answer me!
He deserved it all.
He wants them all to know that he is a star!
Then let the poison burn through your veins!
You are no underdog.
You are a snake whose poisons had been brewing for far too long.
There is a world where Cheesy stayed calm and got out safely.
There is a world where Cheesy panicked and died for it.
There is a world where Cheesy managed to keep Kara alive and fought his way out.
But this was the world where Cheesy craved recognition and is done fucking around.
[Well then… This is a turn of events.]
“No shit you bastard, I’m going to take you down you sick fuck!”
Golden eyes stared at the prospector; he knew what was going to happen. He readies his fangs, laced with venom from years of envy. Scales glimmer beneath the moonlight, hard as steel as it protects him. The prospector calls for reinforcement, panicked at how inhuman he looks. He looks down at a puddle before him, he looks like a snake. It’s fitting he thinks, a snake can represent envy. He is envious of everyone; he just wanted some recognition. Is recognition hard to come by, maybe? But he has been ignored and bullied for far too long, it was about time he showed them who was the real boss.
[I am not letting you get away with this!]
Elks, bears, great white sharks, wolves, and so much more surround him. Before, he wouldn’t stand a chance.
But now? Yes.
He takes a deep breath and breathes out a cloud of poison. He watched as the animals tried to run, only to be caught in the deadly fog. Their bodies soon fall to the ground, unmoving, undisturbed, never to breathe ever again.
[Well then, let us see how you go up against the moon itself!]
In short, he can beat up the moon. Poison can be your worst best friend after all. The prospector died, he escaped the forest. He was free.
The Moon shone brightly above him, it was peaceful. The world slowly faded to black, he won.
The darkness soon faded into white, still colorless except for white. With the color white, there exists a definition. The void no longer existed; they were left in a small white room. The change was so sudden, yet they weren’t opposed to it. Cheesy was no longer surprised by this, he just went through another death game. He walked around the room while trying to understand what had changed. He saw his friends laying on the ground, their cards right next to them. At least they are ok now, he doesn’t want to imagine an alternate reality.
“Did we fucking win?”
“technically Chilled, I won but yes we did indeed survive.”
Slowly everyone started to wake up…
Everyone but Ze.
“Why isn’t Ze waking up?”
They all rush towards him, they try shaking him awake. He doesn’t move nor does he breathe, Chilled panic fuel cries filled the air. But luckily Kara noticed something (It was always Kara, her intuition was forever sharp…) in Ze’s hand, it was a card.
Or what was left of it.
The card was torn up, ripped to shreds, and slightly burnt in some parts. Theirs were intact, face, name, power, health, sigil, and even the cost was on the card in one piece. Kara wonders why, but decides to ask questions later and starts to reassemble Ze’s death card. Everyone else notices what she was doing when she walks away, they don’t dare bother her. The card was slowly reassembled, it started to glow bright white. The light was so bright that they had to shield their eyes, but it soon dimmed back down.
In her hands were Ze’s death card, yet it contained nothing but his name and face.
At the same time, the Viking wakes up.
Chilled straight-up ran and hugged him, which he returned by hugging him back. Ze was back and awake, but why was he asleep in the first place? He wanted to ask him, but Junk beat him to it.
“What happened to you buddy?”
Ze didn’t know how to explain it, his mind was thrown into disarray during that game. He doesn’t know what happened to him just now. The last thing he remembered was fighting sharks, and now he’s here waking up with everyone surrounding him.
It seems that you are awake, did you all enjoy the game?
“What did you do to him?!”
“I did absolutely nothing, all I did was let him do his job. Isn’t that right Mr. Viking our dearest Martyr?
All heads turn to Ze for an explanation.
With a deep breath, he sings a tale from long ago
“So, is everyone ready?”
They all had just clicked yes and the world faded into darkness. He was scared and alone, even Chilled wasn’t there with him. There was nobody, there was only silence. He tried to look around for something, but what is there to see in the void except darkness itself?
“Who’s there! Show yourself!”
I offered you a game, and I’m here to give you a choice.
“What kind of choice?”
Straight to the point, I like you. To explain in simple terms, everyone will have a role. What role do you ask? That’s something I decide. But there is one role that you get to choose, it’s a powerful role that can only be played by a strong heart.
“So what is the role, and what are the benefits?”
A man of business I see, an outside influence I can tell.
Those who believe in the goodwill of their allies will die in the end. Let it be by their hand or the other is not in my power. What abilities does the Martyr have? The ability to change the tides of a game, or in this case I should say ‘games’ for the better term. But this power comes with a great sacrifice, the curse of pain itself. Would you like to suffer to help your friends? Or would you rather run like a powerless coward with your friends?
“What did they all say?”
Well, he had a choice now, it will hurt a lot, he knows this. But he believes in his friends, his family, and most of all in Chilled. So he said yes, pain and suffering be damned. He will help them go through this, he was a Martyr at heart.
You will remember this conversation, my only rule for this is that you speak not about this conversation unless I tell them about the Martyr.
He nods as the world shifts and changes around him, black to white and there he was.
The room was cold, but at least he was with his friends again.
There is a world where Ze was a coward, the game was hard from the start.
There is a world where someone wasn’t a coward, the games weren’t as hard as they expected.
There is a world where everyone is brave, they beat it all with everyone together.
But this was the world where Ze was alone, yet his bleeding heart made it worse.
Silence, just pure silence as everyone just processed the information Ze had just given them. Nobody wanted Ze to feel so lonely, but they couldn’t do anything about it. All they can do is cry for him, for how willing he was to suffer for them. How sweet and kind he was to them, even if they never listened to him.
Well, now you know the truth! Congratulations!
Well, you better get on to the next game but before that… Congratulations Platy for saving Cheesy, his secret task was to save him from death. But man, I wish this other fucker would do his task. I am getting pissed off by this one person. But anyway, since this was a team game, there will be no punishments for you all who have won that game. Now I would suggest you move on to the next game. The faster you do this, the better it will be for all of you.
And with that, the silence returns. They all know what to do, but they don’t know if they want to do it. But Ze had had enough of everyone's despair, so he made the first move.
“I’m not mad at you guys for saying no, I’m not angry or disappointed that you said no. I’m happy that you said no, but it makes me sad to see you all like this. So why don’t we move on to the next game, the faster we end this, the less we have to suffer right?”
Everyone agrees, slowly the mood lightens up again. Jokes were thrown and Ze got everyone to go through the door with hopeful hearts. The next game will be hard, but as long as they have each other…
They will get through this.
Who is he? I don’t remember.
Was he someone important to me like Cheesy and Kara? I can’t tell anymore, my memory is starting to get mixed up. I don’t know why, but the shadows are whispering again. They are laughing at me, why?
Oh wait, I know why. I forgot about Platy, that’s why.
Why am I so calm about this? I should be panicking right now. I’m already starting to forget about Ze and Chilled. The most memorable duo, it feels weird to forget about them. I’m even starting to lose some details about Junk, I shouldn’t want this to happen.
But I can't do anything.
He has joined the list of people whose stories I have forgotten.
sorry man, there’s nothing I can do.
Envy is normal, just don’t let it overwhelm you. You are who you are, don’t let envy stop you from being you.