I was supposed to post this yesterday but I didn't manage to get to it. I apologize for the delay, but am happy to present the next round of our HeroMachine Freestyle Story! Our winning continuation came from Gero, with a new illustration by Skybandit. Our story thus far:
The cobwebs were thick upon the intricately carved altar, throwing odd shadows from the guttering candle in your hand. Your uncle had never installed electricity in the basement of the ancient mansion that he had left you in his will. Opening the crumbling book to the page he had marked before his horribly bloody death, you fulfilled the only proviso to gain the full inheritance by reading out the words on the crumbling parchment, stumbling over the strange words.
Perhaps you should have been more careful with your pronunciation, for in a flash and with a rumble like a Californian quake, there appeared:
a terrifying apparition! It has the form of a human woman, but wrong; it is rail-thin, with yellowing, parchment-like skin stretched over its bones. Its face is that of a demonic beast, all sharp, nashing teeth and red, staring eyes. It rises up from the center binding of the ancient tome on a trail of etheral smoke, its long shock of white hair blowing behind it in the sudden vortex of wind seeming to come from the book itself. The specter looks around, seeming to search the dusty room for some unknown thing, then locks eyes with you. You are unable to look away as the creature suddenly shrieks and begins to slowly glide towards you…
Your challenge this week is one of two things (or both, if you fancy a challenge):
- Write the next short section of our ongoing adventure using the seed in blockquotes above and what is depicted in the winning image, below. The text should be written in second-person point of view ("You are a young warrior of the Wu Tang Clan") and should be gender-neutral. The section should end with an open-ended statement making it easy for the next person to hook on their section, something like "You turn the corner and see ..." or "Leaping from the cliff, your wild hands scrabble along the rocks and encounter ..." or "Heat vision blasting, out of the corner of your eye you see descending from the clouds a ...", that kind of thing. The goal is to make it easy for the next person to know where to jump off.
- If writing isn't your thing, you can post a link to an image you've created in HeroMachine that the next person will have to incorporate into their scene. It might be a human character of some sort, or an animal, or an item, or a scene, or whatever you like.
If you choose to write the next segment, here's the image you must somehow incorporate into the story, courtesy of Skybandit:
Torches light spontaneously on either side of the altar. The altar itself opens like a drawbridge. Behind this new gate is a glowing red portal. The phantom extends her hand, inviting you to walk into the light.
“I am the guardian of this portal which separates the living from the dead. Your uncle tricked you into opening it. He must have the key. If you refuse, or cannot recover the key, you will take my place for eternity!”
The witch seems overly anxious. She motions for you to step into the portal yet her eyes nervously scan the grimoire and the pages strewn about the floor. You insist that she tell you what else she knows about its contents. “No time, go!”
The staircase to the portal lifts slightly with an upward motion of her hand. You reach for the book. She lifts her hand higher. You could not trust your uncle. Now this ghost wants you to trust her? The wizard or the witch… you decide to confront:
Yay, I won! Congrats to Skybandit for their second win, and good luck to everyone this week!
After your last two challenges, you feel like dropping to the ground and dying. First you have defeated 500 Samurai warriors with just a wooden shield and your bare fists. Then you went on to defeat the great ‘Yung Khin’. A genius Emperor with the aid of the Gods on his side, beating him at his own game of power.
Now, you are welcomed into the Palace of Immense Power. Although the torches burn at a warming temperature, you feel cold inside. You haven’t enough strength to complete any challenge put up for you. This is the end. There isn’t another way out of this except death, but you are already dead inside.
You take one last deep breath, close your eyes, and take the next step forwards. Your heart is racing and yet you have no emotion. You aren’t nervous, excited or thrilled by the mystery of what might happen next. This is because you already know. Death is the only thing left for you. You aren’t scared. You shall just embrace it.
Through the door to another dimension and another challenge, you see yourself standing right there. A reflection of who you may become. It shows…