All right. It’s been a while since I’ve run an adventure and, honestly, I’ve missed it! I’m a strange soul=) So welcome back for a whole new adventure.
White capped and jagged, the mountain’s a local challenge meant to test the metal of a person. Every one from town’s got to climb it at least once, if not more times just to brag about it.
The day’s perfect. After months of not getting out, you’ve finally managed to steal a day away to concur the mountain. It’s what the locals like to term a 14er. It’s 14,000 feet of sheer vertical with a breath taking summit.
Resting on a rock, you watch the sun rise over the saddle between the 14er you’re climbing and the smaller mountain next to it. The dawn gilds the ridge-line in golden light and you breathe a sigh.
As you shove to your feet, you shoulder your pack and continue upward on the path. Rounding the bend, you stop short. A rockslide’s taken out the trail for the next hundred yards like a giant spilled his marbles.
Farther to your left the rockslide stops because of a strand of pine trees. Luckily, you’re not above tree line or the slide might have taken out more of the trail.
Accepting the detour, you head left to skirt under the rockslide. You don’t really want to go over it because it looks rather unstable and you’d rather not get caught with a bunch of rocks tumbling under your feet.
Once you enter the strand of trees, you swing to your right to follow the bottom half of the slide until you can head back up to the trail. The ground’s soft with needles beneath your feet, so you don’t immediately notice when it goes from soft to spongy. With your next step, the ground sags. You go to step back but the dirt gives way and you fall, not down the mountain, but straight down into the ground.
Catching yourself on a tree root, you glance at your dangling feet and realize it’s an old mine shaft. Then the ground gives more and the root slips from your grasp. You fall head long into darkness.
Your whole body aches but you don’t remember hitting the bottom of the mine. With a groan, you open your eyes and blink. You’re not surrounded by an old mine. Instead, high above your head rises an arched ceiling of dark marble. Sunlight filters in through windows to your right, and the floor beneath you is cold.
As you push to sit up a soft swishing reaches your ears.
“Oh, you must be the surprise guest!” Exclaims a high-pitched voice. A lady dressed in a deep blue Victorian ball gown glides toward you down the hall.
“The King said we’d never guess who the last guest would be! And now I get to walk in with you. Oh, how exciting!” she grasps your hands and helps you to your feet with more strength than you would have guessed her to have.
“Shall we head to dinner?” she asks, pulling at your hand.
You’ve no idea who she is or where you are.
A. Go with her?
B. Excuse yourself?
Time Mine Option A: Go with Her
The lady seems nice enough and she hasn’t reacted to your hiking clothes, so perhaps your attire isn’t all that strange.
“I’d love to join you for dinner,” you tell her.
She beams and threads her arm through yours. Thankfully, this helps you appear like you know where you’re going.
She leads you down the hall and around the corner where a large set of doors are opened wide.
As you turn to enter, you almost stumble in shock. The dining hall’s the size of a barn, perhaps even bigger. Plus there’s a table spanning the entire length of the hall seated for more seats than you can easily count.
At the far end sits a snowy haired man wearing a golden crown. He sees you and your companion and gestures for you to join him at some open seats down on his right.
You follow the woman’s lead as you traverse the hall and take the seat the woman leaves you at.
The man to your left leans in as you sit and says “Lovely day for a picnic, isn’t it.”
“Sure,” you respond, not entirely sure what he means by picnic.
The young woman to your right snorts with a disparaging look at your attire.
“They’ll let anyone in these days,” she mutters.
You almost retort back but the man grabs your arm and exclaims, “Look at the roasted duck! Isn’t it delightful.”
What’s set before you isn’t roasted duck. In fact, it looks a lot like shrimp.
You don’t focus on it too long though because, as you look up, you realize you’re the only one being served a plate.
Confused, you look around until you meet the King’s eyes. Unsure how to approach him, you lower your eyes in what you hope looks like deference.
“So wonderful of you to arrive the night of my formal dinner,” the King says.
“Of course, your Majesty,” you say.
“As my new taste tester,” he continues, “please try the shrimp.”
New taste tester?
The young lady beside you mutters, “Hopefully you’ll last longer than the last taste tester. He died on his second meal.”
“Turned purple!” says the man to your left.
You could go along with the King’s mistaken view of who you are but you might apparently be risking death. Or you could try to correct him. Although that may also be a risk to your life to correct the King in front of his subjects.
So do you…
Aa. Try the Shrimp?
Ab. Try to Correct the King?
Time Time Option Aa: Try the Shrimp
The King’s eyeing you, waiting for you to do as he says. There’s a glint in his eye that makes you feel like contradicting him would be an unwise decision. Like maybe he’ll have you beheaded or something horrible like that if you don’t do as he says.
Maybe the shrimp’ll be good.
So you pick up what you hope is the right fork and stab a shrimp. Taking a bite, you chew the morsel and barely keep from spitting the thing out. It’s rubbery and very fishy. But is that normal for here? Is doesn’t taste like poison as far as you can tell, not that you’ve tasted poison before. At least there’s no bitter taste to it or anything obvious like that.
Everyone watches as you continue to chew and eventually swallow the bite. You take a sip of water to wash it down.
The plate’s taken from in front of you and placed before the King but he continues to watch you.
“Tell me,” he says “where’d you come by such strange attire.”
You take another sip of water to stall as you consider your answer.
“My mother,” you finally respond. “She wanted to make sure I stayed warm.”
The woman beside you snorts again. “She must be blind. You look atrocious.” Her words are too soft for anyone else to hear.
“What a wonderful woman!” the man to your left exclaims at the top of his lunges. No one pays him any heed, so you assume his behavior is normal.
“Ah, what a motherly thing to do.” The King stabs a shrimp and eyes it, and then he smells it and looks back up at you. “You appear to be fine,” he states. “Don’t feel any strange side effects, do you?”
The taste of the fishy, rubbery shrimp is still in your mouth but other than that, you don’t feel any worse for wear.
“No Sire,” you say, “I feel perfectly fine.”
“No tingling, no blurred vision, no numbness in your hands or feet?”
Had all those things happened before? You begin to wonder who would wish harm on the King.
“No tingling, blurred vision or numbness…” you hesitate. Do you say something about the taste? It seems to be lingering and turning even sourer on your tongue. But maybe that’s normal?
“Anything else?” asks the King as your silence grows longer.
Aa1: Tell him about the taste?
Aa2: Remain quiet?
Time Mine Option Aa1: Tell Him about the Taste
“Well?” the King prompts.
“Well, I don’t feel any effects but honestly, the taste leaves a lot to be desired.” You make a face to emphasize your point.
“It’s bad.” The King hands the plate to the serving woman behind him and demands to have something else.
After another half hour or so, the serving woman returns with what might actually be roasted duck. She sets the plate before you.
“Ewww! Shrimp. How disgusting!” the man beside you exclaims.
After talking with him for the last half hour though, you’re pretty sure he’s just acting crazy, so you send him a half smile as you cut off a small chunk of duck.
Before you can get the bite to your mouth, your hands turn weak and the fork clatters to the floor.
You stare at your fingers as they lengthen and turn skinny, then take on a greenish hue.
The woman to your right screams. It’s an ear splitting sound. You try to cover your ears but it doesn’t work as other strange changes take over your body. Your vision goes topsy turvy and the table whooshes past your line of sight.
Suddenly, everything settles. You’re still on your chair but the table’s above your head. When you open your mouth to ask what’s happened, a large croak comes out.
“A frog!” shouts the lady to your right. She pulls her shoe off and you’re bunching your muscles to jump away when another set of hands picks you up.
“Now, now Lady Catrina. No need to go killing the poor thing. Give me some time and I might be able to turn the dear back.”
His face is much larger now but you’re sure it’s the man who sat to your left. He hands you off to a dainty pair of hands. After blinking several times to clear your sight, you realize the woman now holding you is the original lady who invited you to dinner.
“Glad I didn’t try the shrimp,” says the king as you’re carried from the hall.
There’s general laughter all around.
Over the next several weeks, you come to learn that the man you sat next to at dinner and the woman who invited you work together at an apothecary. They continue to feed you odd potions in hopes of returning you to human form.
One time, they succeed in changing you into a bird but the change doesn’t last and you become froggy again.
Although you can’t really communicate with them, they still tell you what they’re doing and you’ve high hopes that they won’t give up.