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The Chaos Theory

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The Chaos theory is an interdisciplinary theory and branch of mathematics focusing on the study of chaos: dynamical systems whose apparently random states of disorder and irregularities are actually governed by underlying patterns and deterministic laws that are highly sensitive to initial conditions.

 

If you met a person and talked to them, you might have ended up getting robbed and beaten to death. But in another world, you might have picked to ignore them, you got home and started playing Mario kart with your best friend. It was one decision that determined life and death at the moment, and it proves that anything could change depending on who you do things with.

 

But in this case, Multiple choices means multiple outcomes for Anthony.

---

Today was a good day, they had an amazing Among Us lobby. There was the Giggle Theory that got Shubble voted out, which ended up being a good thing for the crewmates. Junk is still being the old man he is, still asking about these ‘Pokemans’ which is inevitably hilarious. And then there’s Ze…

 

How does he explain Mr. ZeRoyalViking?

 

To Anthony, he was the stars. His bright smile and joyous laughter had always made his day better. He wished for a day when he could stand next to him, hand in hand, at a beach laughing like lovers. He couldn’t do that unfortunately; he can’t be greedy. He can’t be lovers with him, Anthony dearest already has Jess. What more could he ask for in life? He has a stable job as a Twitch streamer, pets that he loves with his very soul, a partner that loves him for who he is, and friends that meant the world to him. Nothing could go wrong, right?

 

“Hey chilled, who are you voting for?”

 

He snapped back into reality, he forgot he was playing with his friends for a moment. It’s Ze, Platy, and himself at the meeting table, everyone murdered with the exception of the three at the table. He was the medic, he shielded Ze, but he hasn’t been attacked at all, but Platy looks suspicious as hell. There was only one impostor, the game would’ve ended already if there was two of them. So, he picked the obvious choice.

“Well then, I trust Ze more than you so… I’m voting the Platy out of here!”

“It’s Chilled! Ze don’t trust him, he’s lying!”

Unfortunately, the votes are in with Chilled having 1 vote, Ze has none, and poor Platy has 2 votes.

 

Platy was ejected.

Impostors win!

 

“You guys forgot about the Vampire! Garlic club failed you all!”

Ze laughs as his friend were all over the place when they realized that vampires only need to bite someone outside of a garlic, and they can die inside it after they’ve been bitten. Chilled feels like an idiot for shielding the vampire, but the ZeRoyalChaos duo needed to live on! They were about to start a new game, when his phone started ringing. He looked down on the screen to see it was from Jess. She was supposed to be hanging out with her friends right now.

‘What could she want from me? She knows I’m streaming, and she only calls when it’s really important.’

He told everyone in the lobby to wait a minute, and that he needed to take a quick call.

 

He muted his Discord and answered the phone.

“Hello is this Anthony?” It wasn’t Jess, but he answered yes anyway.

“I unfortunately have some bad news.” Bad news, this can’t be good.

“Jess was walking down the street in the rain ahead of us…” He doesn’t feel so good anymore.

“It was dark out; we never saw it coming from a mile away.” Why does he feel afraid?

“There was a car, the road was wet and it was dark…” No, this shouldn’t be happening.

“I’m sorry Anthony…” Please, not her.

 

 

“But Jess is gone, she died the moment the car hit her.” Was this his end?

 

There is a world in where Jess never went out with her friends and survived.

There is a world in where Jess went out alone to buy some groceries and came home to a kiss on the cheeks.

There is a world in where Jess stayed at home and lived until she grew old.

 

But this was the world where she hung out with her friends and died a tragic death.

 

It can’t be true, he wished it wasn’t true. His love just died, he didn’t know what to do. He didn’t want to do anything, but then he remembered the lobby. He told her thank you for telling him about her death and closed the call. He went back to the lobby and unmuted his Discord.

 

“I’m sorry guys, but I don’t think I can play anymore today.” They asked why, it was always why.

“Jess died in a car accident.” There was silence, and before anyone could say anything.

 

He left the voice chat.

 

He told his stream that he would be taking a break and that his girlfriend just died. The chat sends their regards, and proceeds to slowly move to another streamer. He looked at his phone to his friends streaming on Twitch, but upon a closer inspection, there was someone missing.

Why was Ze not streaming? He was just live a few minutes ago. And his answer came in the form of a text message from his best buddy Ze.

 

Hey chilled, I hope you are ok.

Everyone was worried when you left, they all wanted to call you.

But I stopped them, I told them to give you some space.

I messaging you because I want to tell you that’s it’s ok to cry.

And I will always be there when you need me.

So, when you need me, call me ok?

I will open my arms for you, so don’t hesitate ok bud?

 

He decides to take the offer.

 

Calling Ze…

 

“Hey Ze, you said that I could call you at any time.”

“Yeah, what do you need?” He didn’t ask if there was something he needed, he knows that he needed something.

“I want to ask first, why did you end your stream? You could’ve continued on like the others.”

“Chilled, we may stream on Twitch to entertain our fans. But that doesn’t mean I would prioritize them over my best friend.” His best friend, he never deserved a friend like him after everything he put him through.

“Thanks buddy, I just don’t want to be alone right now. The house feels empty without her.”

“Hey Chilled, how about I come stay with you for a while. Only if you want to that is.” He was offering him comfort; he was too kind and he was too selfish for his own good.

“I would love that Steven.”

“Hold tight Anthony, I will be there as soon as I can.”

 

There is a world in where he refused his offer and went into depression.

There is a world in where his family stayed with him to keep him company, only to ignore them until it was too late.

There is a world in where he refused and ignored his best friend with a rope and a chair.

 

But this was the world where he accepted the offer so he could heal his heart from his inner demons.

 

The next Month went by in a flash.

Ze caught a plane and joined Chilled in his own home.

Jess Got a funeral that will forever be remembered in his heart.

Her stuff got moved, shipped to her parents as they mourn the loss of their daughter.

Ze eventually moved in with him, to keep him company like the friend he is.

 

Life was almost normal, only this time there was no Jess.

 

It was only him, his best friend, and an Among Us lobby chuck full of chaotic people.

Kara, Shubble, Platy, Junk, Cheesy, Tay and was here. It was a small lobby with the eight of them, but it still feels right.

 

Everyone in this lobby, they feel like home to him. They were supportive through his struggles, they didn’t ignore him and still invited him to their lobbies to cheer him up.

 

“So, is everyone ready?” Everyone replied with a ‘Yes’ and they were excited to play a game.

 

Starting game in…

3…

2…

1…

[Error, game not found]

 

Huh, something wasn’t right.

The screen was dark, and everyone was confused. But there was something on the screen.

 

Would you like to play a game?

[Yes] [No]

 

“Is anyone getting a weird prompt asking you if you want to play a game?” Tay was confused, same like everyone here. Everyone discussed what to do, and eventually decided to say yes and continue on with the game.

 

But it never asked if they wanted to play a game of Among Us.

 

Welcome to our game! The rules are very simple so don’t worry!

Rule 1. Death is not permanent, just like your friendship.

Rule 2. Anything can happen, our influence is like poison to your minds.

Rule 3. Rules will be changed depending on what game you play.

Rule 4. Don’t forget, the game would not let you.

Rule 5. Win the games and you’ll be free.

Rule 6. Break the rules and suffer the consequences.

Rule 7. Have fun.

Goodluck and may blood be spilled amongst you all.

 

 

There is a world where they clicked yes and continued playing Among us like a family.

There is a world where they clicked no and had to restart the whole lobby again.

There is a world where the question never popped up in the first place, never questioned, never remembered.

 

But this was the world where they said yes to a game about death, only to try and find a way out of this death game.

 

The world around them went dark, and when they opened their eyes again, they only see each other. The room was dark, it was like it had no walls. It felt like it too, so spacious yet it felt so small. Everyone eventually woke up with confusion and fear in their eyes. He looked around to find Ze standing alone, he looked scared. Chilled walk up to him, he wanted to give him the same comfort he gave him the past month.

 

“Ze what ever happens, let us stick together.” He just nods, accepting him with open arms.

He knew Ze didn’t want to be alone, so sticking together did them both some good.    

Everyone gathered around a door, it was closed and everyone was wondering if they should open it and go through. Tay argued that they should stay and observe the door for a while, Junk says that they should go through the door.

“There is nothing else here, if we stay here, we risk dying from hunger or even getting attacked. We are defenseless and who ever trapped us here could probably hurt us if they wanted to. Our only option is to go through this door.” Nobody could argue with Junk’s logic. And so one by one they went through the door, leaving only Ze and Chilled alone before the door.

“So it’s just you and me buddy.”

“Hey Chilled, promise me something.”

“What is it?”

“What ever happens during this, let’s not hold it against each other. I’m scared, the rules mentioned that our friendship isn’t permanent like death here. I just want you to know, if there ever come to a point where I’m forced to hurt you… I’ll save you for last if I can.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll do the same for you Ze.”

“We should get going, they might scold us for keeping them waiting for too long.”

“Yeah man, let us go through Chilly Willy.”

“Okay Mr. Viking, let’s get this over with.”

They both looked at each other and nod.

With a deep breath they both went through.

 

As they went through the door, it shut behind them. They never got to notice the sign above them as it lit up when the door shut. It says…

 

GAME START

 

And so it begins…

But death is not permanent here.

 

So what is their goal?

 

 

And what will he do?

Chapter Text

It was bright, that was all he could see. Crossing the door made him feel… Cold?

 

He looks down, it looks like snow. He touches it, and it is snow. Why are they in snow, where are they?

 

He looks around for his friends, he spots Tay waving at them from what seems to be a cabin. There’s just a bunch of trees and some berry bushes. Well, if they get stranded here, at least there’s some kind of food source they could all use. He walked over to Tay and greeted her with a smile.

 

“So do you know what we are supposed to do here?” Chilled knew that she doesn’t know anything, but he hoped that there was some kind of information.

 

“No, we haven’t found anything remotely useful besides this cabin. Anyway, lets get in, it is freezing out here.” The three of them walked into the cabin meeting everyone else.

 

The cabin looked big from the outside, but it was smaller inside. With eight people in here, it felt really crowded. But strangely enough, the room feels familiar. He hasn’t been to any cabins, the only cabin he knows is from a game-

 

Oh no…

 

All players have gathered in the cabin!

 

Start the game?

[yes] [No]

 

This was their first game, now he understands what Ze meant. He looks toward Ze, his body is wrapped in fear. He knows what’s going to happen, but he’s trying to get the courage to say yes. Everyone else had already said yes to the question, but Ze was too scared to press it.

 

“Come on Ze, stop being a pussy and say yes already!” Platy, don’t you see why he is afraid?

“Yeah Ze, I thought you weren’t a coward!” Kara, please stop it.

“It’s ok Ze, we are all in this together.” Thank you Tay, he needed some comfort.

 

Taking a deep breath, Ze pressed ‘Yes’ and waited.

 

All players are ready!

 

Game: Project Winter.

Goal: Evacuate this snowy land within 30 minutes and survive.

Rules:

Rule 1. There are 2 traitors amongst you, be warry of others.

Rule 2. Play your roles or suffer the consequences.

Rule 3. Traitors shall be forced to kill and lie.

Rule 4. Survive duh.

Rule 5. Traitor wins when all the survivors die.

Rule 6. Survivor wins when at least one escapes the place alive.

Rule 7. Goodluck and death to all of you. Have fun!

 

They should be getting their roles, please don’t be a traitor…

 

You are the soldier!

First Objective: Fix the Power Station!

 

Well at least he knows who isn’t the traitor, but he can’t say anything or else he’ll get exiled just from suspicion. Ze looks at him, he is probably debating if he should say something about his role or not. I hope he’s not the traitor, but even then, he promised me that I would be last. Let’s just hope we survive this together. He looks toward the others; everyone was too nervous to move. He decided to move first and grab the winter equipment, they will definitely die to the cold without it. Everyone soon followed him and grabbed their own clothes, Cheesy decided to speak up for once.

“If we are going to go out there, and there’s 2 traitors amongst us 8… How about we group up? Two trios and a duo, it would be very easy to figure out once someone comes back injured from an attack from someone or something.” Wow, for once Cheesy has a good idea. Everyone agreed to it, with the girl grouping up together, the boys grouping together, with finally him and Ze together.

 

“One group should check what we need for the station, while the other two groups start grabbing materials to survive when the blizzard hits.”

“Good idea Platy, how about we girls check on the station. You guys try and grab materials and scraps since the station might need it.” Nobody opposed Kara’s plan, and with that, everyone set off into the unknown.

Ze and Chilled both wondered, what will happen now…

 

There is a world where they didn’t listen to Cheesy and it ended up in a bloodbath.

There is a world where they went in pairs and there was no trust the whole game.

There is a world where they never left the cabin and died a horrible death.

 

But this was the world where they listened to Cheesy and some form of trust was kept between them.

 

---

 

You are the Medic!

 

She was a medic, it felt strange to her. In games like these, usually she would be doing the killing. Kara the medic, she can see everyone’s health bar? It still feels strange, a mix of reality and a video game. She has a hunger, warmth, and health bar. She is the medic; she can see their health. Everyone was at full, except for one person.

Why was Ze at half health? It may sound weird, but his max health is half. Why was it half, is there something wrong? She shouldn’t keep thinking about it, but she should keep that information for later.

“Hey Kara, stop daydreaming and get over here!” There goes Shubble calling her out of her thoughts, she trusts her enough to not kill Tay. But enough of that, they should figure out what they need for the station.

They walked to the station, it was cold and lonely. But there in front of them, was the generator that they needed to fix. Looking at it, she knows that they need 6 of every parts to fix it. Now they have to get some Mechanical Scraps, Electronic Scraps, and some Fuel. They walked for a bit and found a bunker. It needed two people to open it, which they have. They got it open with no issues, it was honestly a relief that there were no wolves right now. They checked the crates, the found some scraps, but it wasn’t enough to fix the station. Maybe if they asked the boys, they might have found some scraps for the generator.

“Should we put these in, or should we keep hold of it?”

“Well Kara, with Chilled and Ze in a duo, they could easily sabotage us. The other trio is cleared since we can sus out one or two traitor based on the group’s reaction. I’m worried that Chilled might be the traitor, I’m pretty sure Chilled would manipulate Ze into helping him kill. He trusts Ze enough to be with him, and Ze is too nice in real life to not help Chilled regardless of role.”

 

As much as she hates to agree, what she said was true. She heard that Shubble played Purge SMP with them, they both worry about each other at every waking moment to the point it’s stupidly sweet and gross. But what if the two were innocent, what would happen to the other group?

 

There is a world where Kara never saw Ze’s strange health and never placed any suspicion on him.

There is a world where Kara opened the door to the bunker only to die an explosive death.

There is a world where Tay and Shubble were traitors and shot her death with a gun right between her eyes.

 

But this was a world where three innocents try to figure out a way to fix the power station without dying.

 

---

 

You are the Traitor (SHH!)

Delay Survivor Tasks.

 

He was a traitor, and now he was tasked to kill his friends. Honestly, he would rather let them win, but something feels wrong. He can’t really tell what’s wrong, maybe it’s the creeping bloodlust that urges him to kill someone with his traitor buddy. Maybe it’s the fact that he wants to see Platy bleed a beautiful red on a bed of white snow. Maybe he just wants to see the snow change from white to a beautiful crimson with Junk.

 

Cheesy has always been an underdog to everyone, what’s stopping him from proving them wrong.

Maybe that’s what’s wrong, he wanted to be recognized. It wasn’t like him, but he can’t help but feel giddy at his role even after thinking about it.

 

He and Junk both looked at each other, killing Platy would immediately sus them both out. But if they can somehow kill Chilled and Ze, that would leave suspicion on the group instead of them.

 

The howling of wolves can be heard in the distance.

 

He decides to ignore it, they’ve been gathering materials for the others. Wood and metal, food and such for survival. He has a secret task, to poison someone. He asked Junk about it, he said he was never given a secret task. It was strange, but the whole scenario surrounding them was stranger. Stuck in some kind of death game, constantly living just to die.

 

He opens a traitor box without Platy noticing while was looking away, they had found some bunkers and gotten some Scraps. It wouldn’t look suspicious when he came to the cabin and showed a gun, but he also holds a poison laced crossbow. Walking back to the cabin, he saw Tay and her group waiting for them.

“Hey guys! We need 6 of everything, we so far got 4 Mechanical Scraps, 5 Electrical Scraps, and 2 Fuel. Me, Shubble, and Kara thought that you guys might have found some bunkers.” And in fact, they did, but it was only 4 Mechanical Scraps, 1 Electrical Scrap, and 3 Fuel. They were missing one single Fuel, and they had to wait for the other two to arrive and hope the have what they need.

 

“Hey guys! There’s some berries in here already, we should cook them.” And they did, with Cheesy poisoning one of them amidst the cooking frenzy. He placed the poisoned berry and kept a normal cooked berry on him incase he needs it, and he sees Junk doing the same thing. It was a smart tactic; anybody could be suspicious at that point when someone ate the poison.

 

Now he waits for someone to eat the berries, and let them slowly die a sad death.

 

There is a world where Cheesy never told Junk about his secret task and a traitor got poisoned that day.

There is a world where the traitors killed Platy, only to be killed by the girls which lead the survivors to victory.

There is a world where he never poisoned a berry, the game ended with the traitor’s frustration.

 

But this was the world where someone got poisoned and trust was broken...

 

---

He doesn’t have a role.

He’s not identity thief, he’s not anything.

His health bar feels small, he doesn’t know why. He wanted to tell Chilled, but he was afraid of getting accused. Everything about him feels wrong, like he wasn’t in his own body. He was an abomination, is that what he was to them? Was he too nice, was he too much of a stranger to them?

 

He lied when he said he didn’t have a role, it’s just that the role itself was wrong.

 

You are the [ERROR]

 

Whatever it is makes him sick, he feels weak. But he’s going to stay strong for Chilled, and only him. He tried to hide his feelings, but Chilled saw straight through him and suggested they go back to the cabin. He doesn’t argue, and it’s better to deposit the stuff they found anyway. The walk back to the cabin was a bit rough, they were getting too cold. They needed to warm up, so they don’t die from frostbite or something.

 

Blizzard incoming!

 

The blizzard was here, luckily, they were near the cabin. He hears someone shouting, his stomach twists in dread. Something was happening in the cabin, and it wasn’t good.

 

“Then it must be fucking Chilled then! Who else could’ve poisoned the berries!”

“What about you Kara? Maybe you are framing him just to hide your terrible deeds!”

They were fighting, and Shubble was on the floor in pain. It turns out that she ate a poisoned berry, and everyone is a suspect. Everyone pointed fingers at each other, at one point Cheesy accused him.

 

“Enough of this! Chilled, Ze, did you two fucks find a piece of damn Fuel? If we can get this fucking objective done so we can move on to the second one maybe?!”

 

Ze showed them the Fuel they found in a bunker; it was enough to fix the power station. So, they all left the cabin, walked all the way to the station. They let Shubble do the fixing, since she has a good reason to be trusted.

 

Second Objective: Fix the Weather Station!

 

“We might be screwed if it’s the animal wave, we don’t have any weapons. Only Junk, Cheesy, and Tay have some weapons.”

“Either way, we need to do it quick. We’ve wasted long enough on this objective, and there’s going to be a global event soon.” Platy was right, they all have a timer for the global event. It starts in two minutes, that’s not good. They tried to get back to the cabin to make some weapons, but the global event got to them first. Suddenly everything was spinning, the sky was red. They weren’t people anymore; they became crazed rabbits that are ready for the slaughter.

Nobody said anything and prepared some weapons for the fight, they pray that the wolves today are kind and merciful. They head out to fix the next station, the sky is still red. And when they arrived, someone went and started fixing the station. It was the animal wave.

 

Fucking hell.

 

“Protect whoever is fixing the station!” That sounded like Kara.

 

Wolves started appearing, on biting a rabbit that scream like Kara. They shoot the wolves to death; he hears people scream in anger when they killed it. Bears were running at them, luckily someone had a gun and shot it to death. He got bit a few times by the wolves, why wouldn’t he. It took a while, but everyone managed to survive the onslaught.

Final Objective: Call for the rescue vehicle!

The global event wore off at the same time to reveal everyone’s injured form. But before anything could happen, a gun was shot and a body fell.

 

Tay was on the ground, blood pooling beneath her.

 

Junk was the one fixing the weather station, his health was at full and he has a gun pointed at Kara. Junk was a traitor, they were tricked.

Another shot rang out, this time it was Cheesy who shot. Platy was dead by his feet, body now cold from the snow. They’re going to die, was that it?

“Run!”

And so, he ran with Chilled, Shubble and Kara tried to kill the traitors. But they had poisoned crossbow, they stood no chance. Now it was just four of them alive, two traitors and two survivors. They ran as quick as they can to the cabin, so they could call for help and get out and live. It was do or die, with him and Chilled.

 

Fuck, why did he have to get a shitty broken role.

 

He and Chilled ran straight to the cabin, he grabbed the radio and called for help. They grabbed all they need to survive outside the cabin. A campfire, food in which they know aren’t poisoned, a gun, and First Aid Kits. They left the cabin and looked for a bunker to hide in, they found one to the south of the cabin.

 

But something was wrong, and it wasn’t about Chilled or the traitors. It was about him, and the ghosts. Because he see’s Kara looking upset at Chilled, and there’s Tay trying to comfort Shubble while Platy looks angry at distressed. Kara unfortunately catches him staring at them, the walks in front of him, looking at him with a judgmental eye.

‘You can see us, can’t you Ze?’ The ghosts stop what they were doing to stare at him.

“Ze, buddy? Is there something wrong, is there something you aren’t telling me?” Yes, there was something, and yes there was something wrong. Him.

“I see the dead; I don’t know why. The bunnies are gone, why is the sky still red? What is wrong with me Chilled?” He cries, he doesn’t know what to do. Chilled just hugs him, he tries to calm him down.

 

Get to the escape vehicle!

 

He would love to get answers, but escaping is their top priority. He grabbed Chilled and motioned him to go, they don’t have much time until the mega blizzard hits. If it hits them now, there will die before they can reach the vehicle. They ran as fast as they can, dodging wolves and bears that they come across. Eventually, they found the car with the rescue team waiting for them. He let Chilled get on first, he didn’t want Chilled to die at any cost. He was happy, but the ghosts weren’t.

“Well look who’s here, Chilled and Ze. It was a pain the ass to find you, Junk even placed a bear trap near the cabin. Too bad it didn’t get one of you…”

“ZE!” There wasn’t much he can do, but at least Chilled was safe. A gun was pointed at his head, he closed his eyes and smile.

“Win for me Chilled.” And gun shot and a body fell. Death feels so cold, his body aches as blood pours from his wounds. He can hear Kara screaming, she’s nice. Why was he on the ground again? He can’t remember, everything begins to blur together. He hears people calling his name, his heart was yanked up by someone. His body now lies in the snow motionless, there is no heart to keep him alive. Cold and lonely, everything was so hollow.

You have died!

So he died, well at least Chilled is safe.

Are you angry?

Yes, he is, but he shouldn’t be angry. He needs to be nice.

Are you upset?

Yes, but it wasn’t their fault. He wants to wreak havoc, but that’s not him.

Then what do you feel?

He feels empty, hollow, and so confused. He remembers a time when he wasn’t nice.

He remembers a time where he never gave a shit to anyone, because they didn’t.

Then rise, embrace the monster you truly are.

 

You are no civil Viking.

 

You are a demon who has lived in the light for too long.

 

There is a world where Ze lived and Chilled died, he got depressed and stopped playing the games.

There is a world where they never got to the cabin, the cold got to them first.

There is a world where the traitors never found them and they both got out safely.

 

But this was the world where Ze had enough and decided if he doesn’t have a choice, then no one will.

 

---

 

Tay watched Junk and Cheesy kill Ze, but she doesn’t see his ghost anywhere. Was it because of Cheesy, he did take his heart. Did he die permanently? Did the game master lie to us? She can only watch as they taunt Chilled to come out so they can kill him, their words sound twisted as if it wasn’t them who said it. She looked to the other ghosts; Kara looks horrified. She’s the medic, she told her about Ze’s strange health. So why does she look like that?

“Kara?”

“His health, it’s glitching out!” They all look towards Ze, who’s hand started moving. He tried to stand up, but Junk saw him move and shot him again. But he kept on moving, not caring about the bullets in him.

“What the fuck, how is he alive old man!”

“Don’t ask me you bastard, he should be dead! You took his heart, how would I know how he’s alive?!”

They watch Ze stand up, everything about him feels so wrong. He didn’t look human anymore, his fingers are now claws. Eyes once green was now pure black, all white erased like it never existed. His teeth now sharp, the grin looks feral compared to before.

 

“No regrets, no surrender. Now die.” He lunges at the two, their weapons do nothing to him. Poison arrows stab into him, yet he feels the adrenalin rise because of it. Sharp teeth sink into Cheesy; his screams were never heard as the shock from it slowly killed him. Junk wanted to run, but he couldn’t outrun a hunter like Ze. His claws pierced through him like nothing, he was torn apart, spine snapped in half, bones broken with a sickening snap.

 

“Ze? Is that you?” He looks toward Chilled; Tay is afraid for him. She doesn’t want him to die, they will lose if that happens. Chilled gets off the vehicle, everyone is screaming for him to get away from Ze.

 

“Chilly?” It doesn’t sound like Ze at all, why isn’t he running. That’s a monster, that wasn’t Ze.

 

“I know you’re in there buddy, they’re dead. You don’t have to worry anymore; we can escape and win now.” Ze starts calming down, his inhumane features return back to his normal human self. Chilled hugs him, not caring what he just did. He pulls him into the car, the driver warry of Ze after what he saw. They both drove off, finally escaping the hell that was Project Winter.

 

The last survivor escaped.

 

---

 

The world fades to black as they wake up alive back into the black and empty room. Only this time, there are now two doors. One was labeled ‘Project Winter’ while the other was left blank.

 

“WHAT THE ABSOLUTE FUCK CHEESY!”

“I DIDN’T WANT TO BUT FOR SOME REASON I FELT THE URGE TO KILL.”

“SHUT UP KARA, WHAT ABOUT JUNK THEN?! HE FUCKING JOINED ME!”

“HEY I WANTED TO SURVIVE OK, TAY HAD TO DIE AND I’M SORRY YOU ASSHOLES!”

“EVERYONE SHUT UP!”

 

It was Platy who told them to shut up. He looked around to see everyone in varying degrees of distress, it didn’t help he was also panicking inside. He was thinking of an answer that would shut them all up, and that’s when he remembered the rules of the game.

“Remember the rules guys! ‘Anything can happen, our influence is like poison to your minds.’ What if they used it to make them kill us, like hypnotizing without them even realizing it?” His logic was good, but it still didn’t dispel the tension in the room. Eventually every looked towards Ze as he hide behind Chilled’s back.

“Then what about him! He turned into that freaky monster and brutally murdered us, we at least made it quick but that was just down right violent man!” Platy looks towards Ze, he can see something isn’t right. Something was triggered when Cheesy called him a ‘freaky monster’, but he didn’t have time to say anything when a voice appeared.

 

So many sheep, the poor wolf tries to blend in. Long forgotten his nature was, we just helped him get it back. He is no Viking, he is a demon, he shouldn’t have lied to himself.

But who cares about a demon, they should be left to die. They should never be saved, what’s important are the results of this game!

One out of two people finished their secret task! Congratulations on poisoning Tay, you did very well Cheesy. He’s free from the curse, but the other one will have to try to complete their task to get rid of the curse. The game will pick another person to get a secret task, once completed you won’t get another.

The traitor’s loss, so now it’s their punishment!

 

Both Junk and Cheesy screamed, hand clutching their face. Blood was flowing through their hands; tears ran down their face. In the game, the pain they felt was dulled down. But here, the pain was multiplied tenfold. When their hand went down, all you could see was a giant claw mark on their face. The Pain overwhelmed them, Junk passed out only to be forced awake by Platy, and Cheesy sat there crying.

 

Punishments have been served! Remember kids, in game pain is different from void pain!

 

And the voice was gone just like that; Platy didn’t know what to say.

 

He looked at Cheesy, the wound had rapidly healed, now leaving a giant scar on his face. The same goes with Junk. How did this happen, they wanted to play Among Us and now they’re stuck in a death game. But everyone has seemed to regain their thoughts and calmed down. The girls were silent, Cheesy and Junk were still shocked over what happened, Ze wasn’t ok and he looks like he wants to tear himself apart, and Chilled worries over Ze as he tries to stop Ze from pulling his hairs out. Everything was a mess, and it was only the first game.

 

The blank door opens.

 

“I guess we have no choice. Let’s not hold each other accounted for what happened back there, they played with their minds. It wasn’t fully them.” Just like how everyone isn’t truly good here, they all have their faults. He just needs them to embrace it, accept it, and to not deny it. But from the looks of its, Ze denied his for too long. The game wants to take advantage of it, sweet but harmful nature. He sighs, there’s nothing left to do but go through the door.

 

He walked through the door, and soon everyone followed to the next game.

 

---

Everyone has a bad side they don’t want to see, but sometimes they need a game to embrace it. Ze has a dark side, just like everyone else. But the difference is that he lets people be bad to him, he doesn’t want to be bad to them. Eventually things pile up, the salt gets too much for him. He just wants to let go, but letting go has some consequences.

 

Just like how every action has its equal opposite reaction.

Chapter Text

They arrived to a small town with 8 houses, they all looked a tiny bit medieval.

“So, where’s the gathering point? We need to find it to start this fucking stupid game?”

“Uh Kara, maybe the suspicious looking town is the gathering point?” He wasn’t wrong in saying that the town is suspicious, it’s conveniently a town with 8 houses for all of them.

 

As they all walked into the town, recognition stuck Ze and Chilled like a fucking wreaking ball. It struck them so hard that they both said ‘Oh fuck’ at the same time, it caught everyone off guard.

 

“Welp, whoever is evil and gets caught… Well be prepared to get hanged or something, because we are in Town of mother fucking SALEM!” Well, they are majorly screwed, since ToS is basically playing mafia. Everyone is going to lie to each other to save themselves, and they’re not going to know who is who if this follows the actual game rules.

  

All players have gathered in the town!

  

Start the game?

[yes] [No]

  

Well here goes nothing.

 

All players are ready!

  

Game: Town of Salem

Goal: Win by doing your win condition.

Rules:

Rule 1. During the day phase, you can talk, vote, and do your day abilities.

Rule 2. During the night phase, you are free to do your nightly abilities.

Rule 3. The game mode is ‘all any’ so be warry.

Rule 4. Write your wills, roles will be confirmed after death.

Rule 5. Survive and have fun for once you fuckers.

 

They were suddenly teleported; masks on their heads. Their voice sounds the same, neither high nor low. The only thing that they could use to differentiate each other from everyone was their masks, and immediately they notice the demon mask. Nobody wanted to point it out, fearing that the game was doing it to trick them. But then the night phase came, and everyone goes into their own home. They are all waiting for the night to pass, they fear for what is to come.

 

As the sun sets, the murder starts.

 

---

 

I failed my secret task last time, but I don’t want to do it. I’m glad that Cheesy did his, I can’t help but wonder what would happen to him if he didn’t do it. So far, I don’t feel any different from before. But I can’t help but feel off, like there is something not right. There’s a part of me that’s missing, but which one. I am still me, and nobody has pointed out anything. Let’s just hope nothing bad happens.

 

 

Wait, who is Cheesy?

 

What was he to me, why can’t I remember?

 

---

 

The night was dead silent, everyone doing their own thing. Everyone knew who Ze was, but they don’t dare to say anything. But everyone knew to call them by their masks.

 

Currently Kara was sitting by a table with someone else, she was the godfather and Chilled (She had asked him for his identity, he was currently wearing an angel mask?) was her framer. She told him to frame the demon, she knew everyone will be looking at him. After what happened last game, she can’t let him live for too long. He was a risk she needed to eliminate, but if she tried to do it now, suspicions could be thrown at her very easily. Walking out of the room she was using as a base of operations, she looked towards a mirror. She saw her own mask, it was a bird mask, a crow to be exact. She doesn’t know what they mean, she’s Kara Corvus and her mask is a crow.

 

Yet there were two people with non-animal masks, Ze the demon and Chilled the angel.

Why chilled was wearing an angel mask was something she could never understand, the bastard was a paranoid dick who has a silver tongue.

Everyone else wore an animal mask except for those two, she can’t tell who’s who. Platy she knew wore a platypus mask; he was the only other one with a name similar enough to an animal.

 

She snapped out of her thoughts, she needed to take someone down. She doesn’t want to lose; she saw what happened to Cheesy and Junk.

 

She’s afraid, and she knows that she’s a coward for doing this.

 

But she can’t help it, someone has to die.

 

The next day, they will all find the body of one of their friends.

 

There is a world where Kara chooses to disobey the game and died the next day leaving Chilled alone.

There is a world where Chilled doesn’t frame someone and someone good died by everyone’s judgement

There is a world where the mafia choose to surrender and suffered the punishment.

 

But this was the world where Kara killed and Chilled framed his friend for their own sake.

 

---

 

The sun rises, the blood looked dull beneath the sun.

 

There lies Tay, her bear mask discarded and covered in her blood with a note in her hands.

 

You will not escape us, give up.

  

Tay died, nobody dared to say anything. They know she wasn’t permanently dead, but it still hurts to see her lying dead on the floor. She never even got the chance to write her will, all they found out was the fact that she was the doctor and was killed by a mafia member.

“So, who did it?” Everyone looked towards the snake mask, Cheesy didn’t know what to do now that a person died.

Shubble doesn’t say anything, she took a glance at the demon mask. She was grateful that her own squirrel mask was covering her expressions, they would’ve seen her malicious grin directed towards Ze.

“How about we introduce who’s who, you guys probably know who ‘demon masked guy’ is after last game.” He was not wrong; they all know who Ze was but he doesn’t know who everyone else is.

In the end, everyone introduced themselves. It ruined the point of the masks but it hid their expressions still, which was important since nobody here could pull off a poker face for long enough. It was the only thing that stopped Chilled form pulling a ‘Giggle Theory’ on Shubble.

 

They had spent at least half a day introducing each other, Platy and his platypus like mask decided to accuse Ze. Guess he still holds some suspicion after last game, she couldn’t blame him for it. Rather she was thankful for it, she was an executioner. She want’s Ze dead, it was her secret task. She needs to get him hanged, so she did the only thing she knew that would help her in getting him hanged.

 

Lying, it was as simple as that. They did receive a book with explanations of what roles did what. And it was announced that this was an all any game, any role can appear.

 

“I was the lookout and I saw Ze visited Tay last night!” Ze looked towards Shubble, he knew what play she was doing. It would be foolish of him to not recognize an executioner play right before him. He tried to tell them that he didn’t do it, but everyone ignored him. He was being ignored again, and she felt bad for it. But she had no choice, rules are rules and she must follow them or face the consequences.

They all voted for him to be lynched, a bell rung when half of them voted him up for a trial.

He tried to explain that he was the investigator and that Shubble was lying for he visited Junk who was a towns folk.

Nobody believed him, nobody does. And by the time the votes were casted, it was too late to take everything back.

Six votes, all saying that he was guilty.

He started panicking, he doesn’t want to die. Death was still a scary thing to experience, his voice was filled with terror. His mask unlatched itself from his face, his face was filled with tears. A loop of rope came out of nowhere, it looped around Ze’s neck before pulling him up to the stand. He was getting hanged, and he couldn’t do anything to stop it. He pleads to be spared, but it was too late. Slowly he stops struggling, voice quiet, body there hangs motionless in the air. Ze was dead, and he was the investigator as he said. His will was filled with apologies, he wrote that he visited junk and that he was truly a town member.

 

Everyone looked towards Shubble, she shrugged. She won already, so now she needs to wait for the game to end. She turned around and went back into her house, it was getting dark and she doesn’t want to deal with the aftermath of her words.

 

The sun sets and the moon rises as the mafia prepares their next plan of attack.

 

---

The jailor hauled Junk into jail, his wolf mask betraying how scared he sounds.

“Tell me your role, or less you’ll die.” Platy doesn’t want to scare the old man after what he experienced, but he wants to win the game. With two confirmed good dead, and Shubble was suspected to be an executioner, the odds are looking bad. Excluding himself, there are 4 people left. He knows one of them is bad, he jailed Cheesy last night and someone died. He suspects that there was only 1 killer with how small this group is, if he chooses to execute Junk, he might a mafia out.

 

It may be an all any game, but we know there’s a killer and the mafia rarely acts alone. So, he decided against his better judgement to kill Junk. He prays that Junk will forgive him for this, and raised his gun.

 

The sound of a bullet flying through Junk’s head was never heard, for the jail was sound proof.

 

He checked the reason for Junk’s execution, he prepares to deal with the now cold body on the floor. He wasn’t ready to kill, but it was too late. So, might as well do what you have to do, even if it means someone’s going to die along the way.

 

He hears a knock on the door, and he knows what’s going to happen to him.

 

There is a world where he doesn’t kill Junk and has a chance at winning.

There is a world where he jailed someone else and survived to see the next day.

There is a world where he jailed the godfather only to kill them the next night.

 

But this was the world where he screwed up and paid in blood for it.

 

---

 

Junk and Platy, both dead in the middle of the town.

 

Sheriff and jailor, both bloodied and unmoving.

 

There was no chance for the town to win, the mafia over powered them. Chilled knows this, he regrets being a mafia member, even if he wasn’t the one doing the kills. Kara knows that Chilled feels bad, but she couldn’t care less. They’ve won; they just need to vote Cheesy out since Shubble must be the executioner.

“So, when in doubt Cheesy out am I right?” At least Chilled was still willing to vote out Cheesy, and with her own vote it was enough for him to be put on trial. Cheesy knew what was happening, but he wasn’t going to go down without a fight. He is the medium, the souls of the dead demand their justice and he will get it even if he dies along the way.

Cheesy pulls out a knife and kills Chilled with it, stabbing him in the heart where it hurts the most. Kara watches as Chilled collapses to the ground, struggling to stay awake from blood loss. Shubble on the side watching this happen, never caring for her work was done.

 

Cheesy was coming at Kara with anger filling his voice, knife pointed towards her, ready to stab her to death.

 

You don’t hate him for killing your partner, don’t you?

She doesn’t, he just wanted to avenge his friends.

Why don’t you fight back?

But that would mean that she would need to hurt him, she doesn’t want to.

Why not?

She loves them, Cheesy feels like a son to her.

Then why not lay him to rest, let him join his family in peace.

She could, he would find peace in the afterlife.

She needed to cleanse him in the sacred fire, bring him salvation with her love.

Then rise, burn the flames of passion, your loving embrace forever killing.

  

You are no killer.

  

You are a crow whose spirit is filled with love for her own family.

 

There is a world where Cheesy killed Kara first and Chilled soon followed her down to the grave.

There is a world where Kara didn’t do anything, the game punished Cheesy for it.

There is a world where Cheesy surrendered, it ends with the mafia laughing at him.

 

But this was the world where Kara’s love burned so bright that Cheesy never stood a chance against her.

 

---

 

He was the medium, he can hear the dead cry for retribution and see how sorrowful they all look. Ze screams at Shubble, his neck still bleeds from the burn of the noose. Junk looked upset and Platy had his head down in shame. Tay looked disappointed at Kara; she can tell that Kara killed her.

 

And Chilled looked like he regrets everything, and that’s good. The knife was warm, covered in his blood. Soon, Kara will join him, he refuses to go down without the fight.

He runs towards Kara; desperation clouds his eyes in an attempt to stay alive. He expected silence, but all he got was laughter. Why was she laughing? What was happening?

 

He looked up to see a sad smile on her face, mask long gone on the floor.

 

“Sleep little child, be at peace my boy. I’ll guard your dreams, and burn the nightmares away.”

Pain, searing pain was all he felt. It was bright, his surroundings were painted a beautiful orange. The town was on fire, Shubble long gone leaving the town having already won. She can’t be an arsonist, she was mafia. Why was the town on fire, what was happening?

 

He sees Kara shift; her hands turn into talon like claws, coated in fire and ash of the dead. Red feathers start appearing everywhere on her skin, but not enough to completely cover her. Black wings sprout behind her, she changed. Just like Ze, Kara changed. She was smiling, she was still smiling at him.

The world was getting dark, the pain had dulled down. He was getting sleepy; he can hear their voices pleading for him to stay awake. He wants to sleep; he feels so cold yet so warm. He feels someone take his mask off him, hugging him, and loving him; it was Kara. He should feel mad, but for some reason he isn’t.

“I’m sorry Cheesy, just go to sleep. I’ll be there for you, forever and always…”

 

And so he sleeps, he closed his eyes with a peaceful smile…

 

It was warm and comforting…

 

Chilled, Kara, and Shubble Wins!

 

---

 

From black to white, the world changes and Kara turns back to normal. The once blank door was now label with ‘Town of Salem’ above it, everyone glares at the door even if it wasn’t alive.

 

Nobody dared to say anything, the bad guys won. Five people are about to suffer, their loss rings loud in such an empty room. After witnessing Kara and Ze change, they fear what could happen to them. They needed to calm down, find peace in some way or form. It was quiet until Shubble confessed, she had a secret task and needed Ze to die. He doesn’t blame her for it, everyone thinks that his kindness will one day end him.

 

How poetic, you loved them so much don’t you Kara? A Corvus, but unlike a normal crow who hoards shiny objects, you hoard love for your family and friends. Such a mother hen you are, twisted love and you constantly try to hide it.

 

But with that out of the way, only one secret task completed? Thank you Shubble for killing Ze, at least you did your task. But this other asshole still refuses to do his secret task, and it’s pissing me off. So Shubble, congratulation on being curse free!

 

Now we got that out of the way, it’s time for some punishment! Sorry towns folk, but it’s time for pain!

 

Screams.

 

So much Screaming.

 

Everyone but Kara, Chilled, and Shubble was on the floor pleading for it to stop.

 

It wasn’t their face this time, it was their arms. The claw marks look horrible against their flesh, they see bone and scream in horror. It will heal soon, they know this. The wound will heal, but it still hurts. Everyone starts coughing blood, Ze coughs out the most. It worries them, his blood doesn’t thicken like theirs.

 

They will recover eventually, disoriented but they still recover.

 

Their arms were covered in scars, dark memories were carved straight into them. Invisible beast, it had no mercy. They wish for mercy, but all they got was a blank door opening. They groan, they want it to end.

 

“Well before we continue… Let’s talk? It’s not like we are in a hurry to play all of the games.” They were about to point out the lack of food for survival towards Platy, but they stopped when a scent caught their noses. There was a table with some food, and there was a note on it.

 

‘You played well.’

 

They all start eating, not questioning why there’s food here. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth they say, and listen they will. After two games worth of drama, their stomachs rumble in hunger. Killing and surviving works up an appetite, the food will also help calm them down.

 

“So, since we just went through two games. We should rest up and discuss everything that had just happened.” A good idea from the old man, it was better than arguing at least. But what was there to discuss?

 

“So… We now know that anyone can transform? And did anyone notice that she transformed into what mask she wore?” Tay managed to point out something amongst the confusion, Kara did transform into crow, just like her mask. Accompanied by the fact Ze wore a demon mask during that also adds to the transformation theory.

“But what do they mean? Like why the fuck was I wearing an angel mask?! Like I’m pretty sure I’m an asshole, that is the farthest you change from an angel!” I mean, Anthony is a man who has a silver tongue. He would be better suited for the devil position if it ever comes up. But in the end, they all came to a conclusion.

 

Their mask represents something deep in them, whether bad or good they don’t know.

 

Kara had a good nature within her, she loved them with her whole soul.

 

Ze had a bad nature within him, he was tired of being used for people’s selfish desires.

 

If Ze and Kara managed to change, what’s stopping them from doing the same. Everyone has their own secrets; it came down to if they do know about it or not. Ze’s secret was one he didn’t even realize he had, it built up after one too many years. Kara knew about her being a mother hen, it was only then she decided to embrace it.

 

“Well on the topic of the games, what are your thoughts on the secret task? Me and Cheesy had already gotten it once, so we are free from the curse. But we don’t know anything about this curse, and we know that one person hasn’t completed their secret task for two games.” What Tay said was true, they don’t have much information on the secret tasks, they only know that there were always two at a time. But they also know that there have been no repeats, which is good so far. But they also know that one person is either refusing to do their tasks or is simply failing to complete it. But judging from the sound of the strange and mysterious voice, it’s the former.

 

“Whoever they are, they should step up and say something. We don’t know what the curse does, but let’s hope we never have to find out.” All agreed to Chilled’s statement.

 

Having rest up, they all gather before the next door. It was a blank door, just like before. Taking a deep breath, everyone went in. Everyone but one, they waited to be the last to go in.

 

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…”

 

And then they went through.

 

---

 

The world is spinning, I can’t keep my head straight. I’m glad that nobody noticed my behavior, they would have probably call me out on it if they did. But the world is still spinning, forever revolving. My life feels like a fantasy, filled with lies and deceit. It was hard to tell what’s real and what’s fake ever since I started seeing the shadows.

 

The blond guy? (Who was he? Everyone calls him Cheesy, so I guess I’ll call him that...) His shadow speaks of envy, but their words are too muffled (just like everyone’s shadow…) for me to understand. Kara… I still remember her, forever loving. Her shadow speaks of love and kindness, its form turned into a crow after the second game. I realize that Cheesy’s shadow still looks like him, just like everyone else except for Kara.

 

Everyone will change, I just know it. We just haven’t gone through the games for it to happen…

 

Their shadows still whisper lies into their hosts, unlike mine. I can’t be lied to; I have no shadow. I’ve waited for someone to point it out, nobody seems to be able to see them. They mock me for not having a shadow, calling me hollow (It’s all I could make out between the whispers…) for not doing my secret task. (I don’t want to do it; I can’t do it.)

 

Anyway, I should get going. Kara would get mad at me for holding everyone up. Yeah, Kara will get mad at me, she definitely will. Kara, a woman with enough sass to kill.

Yeah, I remember her.

 

I remember her, right?

 

Wait, why can’t I remember her?

 

What’s happening to me?

---

Love is a dangerous tool to wield, it can hurt and yet it can heal. One can believe that their love is true and pure, while others can see the dark truth of how twisted it truly is. You can kill in the name of love; you can love someone in the name of justice. Love is not the same as deception, but they both feel the same. You’ll drown in it, for water runs deep in the ocean and it’ll drag you down with it.

 

Never forget why you loved them in the first place, the bonds you make there will last a lifetime of pain no matter what you do.

Chapter Text

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?

[yes] [No]

 

They want to get this over with, the cabin feels wrong for some reason.

 

All players are ready!

 

Game: Inscryption

Goal: Escape the forest.

Rules:

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?”

“The prospector.”

“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…

 

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.

 

Max…

 

Who’s Max?

 

---

 

[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?

Yes.

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.

 

They won.

 

---

“Help me.”

---

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?

 

Mr. ZeRoyalViking.

 

“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.

The Martyr.

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?”

 

No.

 

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!

 

“Fuck you!”

 

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.

 

Platy...

 

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.