NikiTheBlob t1_jeb74pp wrote

"Ah, good. You're here. I was wondering if you'd arrive."

The woman was maybe in her 40s or 50s - it was hard to tell with way aging went here. She eyed me with the tired yet observant most mothers were known for.

"You don't look much like the mages around here." She said. There was a note of suspicion in her voice.

"I'm not much like them, either." I said, putting my bag down. "I was told this was urgent?"

She gave me a nod, and put away her sewing kit. She then got up, dusted off her apron from loose threads, and gestured for me to follow.

"I first noticed it ten moons ago." She said, leading me further into the house. "The shaman called it the Black Curse. Said this area is influenced by the Great Evil... He said to call a mage, since he didn't have the resources to get rid of it. But I'm not made of money. So he recommended you..." She glanced back at me with the doubtful look I was very much used to now. "...Anyway. We're here."

She moved to the side and pointed to the wall. I crouched down by the cool stone and observed the little, black clusters on it. I sniffed the air. Musty.

"What happened that you noticed it?" I asked, getting up.

"My kids started sneezing and coughing any time they were in this room. I thought it was the work of an evil spirit, so I got some ground up Unicorn horn to sprinkle around. That's when I saw it."

I looked around the room as she spoke. I quickly spotted what I was looking for.

"Where's that coming from?" I asked, pointing to the ceiling. The heavy wooden blocks soaked through on the side of the inflicted wall.

The woman glanced up thoughtfully. "Just the roof over us." She said. "It's been raining a lot. Probably the straw needs changing."

I nodded and faced her. "Okay. I can give you the solution. But it's going to require work from you, too."

She gave me the doubtful look again. "Alright. What is it?"

I pointed to the wood above us. "Get the roof changed. Or cover it up for now at least. I was told you have some fire magic?"

"Just enough for cooking or starting a fire. Nothing much, as magic goes."

"It'll do. Use it to heat up the roof and wood to get rid of the water. After I get done with this, it won't disappear on it's own. You'll have to scrub it off and then put vinegar that I'll give you on the area. I'd also recommend checking if it isn't anywhere else in the house."

I could see her doubtful look turning into one of confusion with each next word I spoke.

"Aren't you going to use your powers to get rid of it?" She finally said. "What is this, vinegar and fire? That's it?"

I went back out to fetch the things I'd need from my bag. The woman followed me. "What sort of ruddy mage are you?"

"I never called myself one." I said. "Everyone else does, but all my rituals and things are basically science."


"Back in my wor... I mean, back in my country, we call mages 'scientists'." I took out the vinegar from by bag. In ideal conditions, I'd use stronger agents, but these people haven't discovered them yet. Thankfully, vinegar will work here too. "What you're dealing with is a fungus. It grows in places where it's damp, cold and dark, like the room where you found it in. And it can be defeated by removing everything that's keeping it there in the first place."

I was already back in the room by the time I finished explaining. The woman had been following me around all this time.

"And I'm supposed to believe you?" She said. "I don't know your country, or your mages. How will I know this'll work? No mage I know of uses this sort of method."

"The methods they use have the same principle, just far too overcomplicated for the issue." I said. "Knowing them, they'd probably put fire runes over the fungus and use a cleansing spell, which I'm guessing from observation, simply strips down all living things down to molecular level, and then charge you a hefty sum for it. None of that is necessary."

The woman watched me as I applied the vinegar to the affected wall, and then listened intently as I gave her a step by step instruction to eliminating it for good.

"You'll know it worked if after scrubbing it off, it doesn't reappear." I finished. She gave me one last uncertain look.

"And how much do I owe you?" She said.

"How much did you pay the shaman?" I asked.

"Three silvers."

"Then two silvers. And the promise to recommend me to anyone who needs household help."

"I still don't trust you." She said. "Especially for this price. No mage takes anything under one gold coin."

"But someone recommended me to you, didn't they?" I said. "Don't worry. Give this two wee- I mean, fourteen moons. You'll trust me then. Pay me when you do."

Two weeks passed. I recieved a small package at my door - two silvers and an empty vinegar bottle.


NikiTheBlob t1_jd30c42 wrote

Ahh, thank you! I'm very grateful for your kind words. I still do know there's still a lot of work ahead of me - especially with the narration vs dialog. I know my characters "feel" younger than I'd like them to be while narrating, but I'll keep practicing and hopefully get the effect I am looking for. :) I hope to read some of your works in the future, as well! I'm sure your work is wonderful, and I wish you the best with getting better too!


NikiTheBlob t1_jd2eyy7 wrote


NikiTheBlob t1_jd019ao wrote

An adventurer has been staying at our village for the past few weeks.

It was nothing new. Our settlement was a relatively safe area on the border with the Demon Lord's domain. A lot of travelers stopped by here on their way to try their luck against the demons. We provided shelter and food for them to prepare or recover, and in return, we earned money to keep ourselves alive. It was a good deal all around.

I usually didn't pay attention to the newcomers - they barely ever stayed long enough to bother knowing their name. This one differed from the rest. I see him every morning as I go to the fields, and every evening when I return home. For the better part of the past month, seeing the adventurer sitting on the log, gazing at the village, has become my standard routine.

Every day that passed, I considered stopping by next to him, just to figure him out. I have dismissed that idea. Until now.

"What you up to, boy?"

I had approached him from behind. He didn't even flinch.

"Good evening to you too, Ed." He said. His eyes never left the village before him.

"Ya know my name." I said. "Seems unfair, when I dunno yours."

"I know everyone's name. And their families. What they do, what they dream of..."

"Tha's blasphemy, boy. Ya sayin' you a god or summin'."

I saw a hint of a smile on his usually brooding face.

"You could say that about me, I suppose." He said. "At this point... I just as may well be."

"I'm warning ya. Tha's a one way ticket to the depths for ya."

"...Yeah, I know. Next you'll also tell me to get going or get back, or to stop filling my head with useless ideas and go earn my living."

I eyed him curiously. That's exactly what was on my mind.

I looked towards the sun, now just a sliver of it visible over the horizon. It's last rays of the day bathed the village in the warmest shade of gold I knew. The local church bells had just started ringing, signalling the end of the day. The daily prayer was about to begin. This moment of the day winding down, everyone slowly finishing up their work and preparing for a peaceful evening, was probably my favorite part of the routine. This moment right here, was proof that all was well. All was good.

"This is your favorite moment, isn't it?" The adventurer said. "It's grown on me, too."

I looked back to the adventurer. He was back to his brooding self. Despite what he said, there was a sorrowful look to him as he watched the people winding down.

I decided to sit down next to him.

"Ya sure know a lot." I said. "Ya possessed or summin'? Or a demon?"

"...Just someone observant with a lot of time on their hands." He replied.

We were quiet for a moment. I didn't really know what I was doing there. But I felt like I had to say something to him. And I was just about to when he stopped me.

"This is one of the smartest games I've ever played." He said. "I mean, sure, AI has come a long way, but still... You are the reason I discovered the NPCs here can actually go outside their usual responses."

Now he was starting to talk in complete gibberish. But before I could intervene and suggest going to the priest, he still continued on, not letting me say a word.

"The first two playthroughs I just barrelled through. There's just so much to do in your world. Then I started slowing down, and before I realized, I started taking longer and longer stops, right here in this village. Sort of silly, really. It's just the introductory chapter. But then, when that happens..."

"When wha' happens?" I finally interjected. The adventurer half-smiled again.

"Sorry, I won't say it. Just saying it outloud will trigger it - I did say this game was smart, didn't I?"

He sighed. I was even further inclined to get him exorcised.

"Too smart, for my liking." He muttered. "The first time that I sat down here and just enjoyed this, you broke out of your routine to come talk to me. To motivate me, push me to go forward. It worked - and then I regretted it. So I came back, but ignored you. Apparently ignoring you is a trigger to that as well - just to continue the suffering of players like me, who just want to enjoy this."

"So instead of ignoring you, next time I talked to you, but just didn't listen. That was also a trigger. So after that... I tried avoiding you. But you kept finding ways to come and talk to me despite it. That was the moment I realized just how smart this game was. I ended up both hating and loving the devs for it. A sort of bittersweet moment."

I stopped trying to understand. Instead, I was now praying in my mind to the gods. I needed their protection in case I also got possessed.

"So, tell me, Ed," The adventurer now turned to face me. "What would you do in my position? What words of wisdom do you have for me this time? How will you try to help me now?"

I stopped my prayers half-way when I saw his face fully turned towards me. There was a lot of pain in his eyes. Pain, fondness, sadness... It reminded me of the look people would give the dying elderly. A look filled with love to have known the person - and equal pain to see them go.

What I couldn't fathom was how someone very clearly possessed was making such a face at me. But I also knew there was a choice I needed to make. And I knew exactly what I needed to say.

"Look, boy." I said. "How 'bout you 'n' I go for a walk, eh?"

"...I'm sorry?" He sounded incredulous now.

"Jus' down this hill, to the Church... Father Paul's probably done with the daily prayer, by now..."

"Wait, no, I think you-"

"It alrigh', son." I said firmly, placing a hand on his shoulder. "We all get lost now 'n' again... No shame there. I promise ya - I'll help set ya straigh', you hear? There'll be hope for you yet when Father Paul's done wit ya."

"No, I - What?!"


HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED "I hear Jerusalem bells a-ringing..."
Convince Farmer Ed you are unfit to continue your journey.

HIDDEN QUEST UNLOCKED "Benevolence of the Heavens"
Seek council with Father Paul.

Class will be unlocked after the completion of the Hidden Quest "Benevolence of the Heavens" and will be available at the Character Creation Menu.


NikiTheBlob t1_j60ikwj wrote

I could see them all teary-eyed around me. I wanted to say one last thing to them - but even breathing was difficult now.
I tried raising my hand to my eldest daughter's cheek, but only managed to go half-way. She caught my trembling hand, and with a weak smile, lifted it to her cheek.
The image was getting blurry now. Ah... So... Tired... My eyes... So... Heavy...

"Would you like to live through that?"
I don't understand.
"What you just saw - that is what your life would be like. Do you want to be born? Do you want to see it through your own eyes?"
My own- but I did. I just... What?
"We can see you're confused. Very well - you have just been granted, on your wish, the chance to see a preview of your future life. What awaits you if you decide to be born. That will be your life, surrounded by loved ones."
...So what I just saw - didn't happen?
"It didn't happen yet. But it will."
But I could see them so clearly in my mind. I saw all their teary faces, the crowd of people...
"You will forget. Human souls don't have the capability to remember once they are born."
...No. I don't want it.
"You... Don't like the life you see? Would you like a different preview?"
No! No, you don't - I don't want it! I want it to be my own!
"It will be your own. We have a carefully arranged life prepared for you. It will be all yours."
No! It's- It's not mine!
"We don't understand."
If you made it, it's not mine. It's yours. I want... Mine.
"We are giving it to you. Is that not, by definition, a life belonging to you?"
It's... No. I want my own life.
"Hmm. Yet if you were to recieve a gift, you would think of that gift as your own, would you not?"
How do you- A gift is a thing. A life... A life is precious. There is one life. I want it... To be mine. I want to make it as I want it to be!
"That isn't reasonable. You have no certainty of what will await you. We made certain to give you an end that will definitely be as you saw it."
And that's precisely why I don't want it. Where's the fun of life, if I know how I end? Where's the uncertainty, the mystery, the magic? I want it all. I want to meet people, love them, hate them, understand them... All in my own time. Without knowing what they will mean to me. Without any certainty of what will come. I want...
"...The choice of freedom?"
"It may not look as you hope it will."
It doesn't matter. I want to make it by myself.
"...Very well. In that case..."

I didn't realize my eyes were closed until I opened them. I was... underwater of some sort. In panic, I immediately bolted upwards, and found myself bursting through and gasping for air.
And I found myself staring straight into a strange, one-lensed, robotic creature.
"Wh-" I tried to speak, but my voice was hoarse. I ended up coughing more than speaking.
The robotic lense focused on me, changing position slightly.
"Vital signs normal. Please be reassured, we will not hurt you."
"I d-" Again, I coughed.
"Congratulations, Subject HS-10-307. You are our first of the species Homo sapiens that has in multiple simulations, successfully shown signs defined as: self-reflection, empathy, and unpredictability."
"Wh- What are you-?" I croaked between coughs.
"Subject HS-10-307, subname 'Evo' - as your main caretaker and simulation engineer, we welcome you to year 4913, month 8, day 28th post-Earth desertion. We are now on planet TRAPPIST-1g. Your species has become endangered in the ecosystem of the current planet. The program of Homo sapiens repopulation, started by a member of your species is now led by us, his creation. You are our first successful result of the program."
My mind was whirring.
The robot came closer, as if inspecting me.
"We hope you will help us in the mission of planet colonisation. We were made for the Earth environment. We do not know how to colonise TRAPPIST-1g with the information given to us. We cannot reach the goal given to us by our creator without your help."
I still didn't understand. But for now... I had a more important question.
"The image... I saw. What... Was it?" I said hoarsely.
"We were tasked to make simulations from memories of our creator and his family to our experimental subjects. Our creator hoped to incite, quote: 'the yearning and longing he had felt for people and their existence, for a future those people may have, for a future they are to strive for.' "
A future to strive for. On an unknown planet, with unknown creatures, surrounded by robots... And who knew how few people.
I looked at the robot, and flashed a grin.
"Where do I start?"