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A note from Scottf14

So, yeah.. This chapter happened.

The darkness that fell upon the world when someone was well beyond the light pollution of city life could be profound. A better word might be omnipresent. Scott simply considered it to be dark as hell.

"Damn, what I wouldn't give for a proper flashlight," groused Scott as he sat in the boughs of a tree. He'd tied himself off so that he would not fall to his death in the night. His stomach rumbled slightly, the demands of a hot meal were upon him once more. However, he was not going to untie himself and start a fire. There would be more to worry about in the woods than the occasional nosy bear or wolf, he was certain of it.

Sounds of the nocturnal forest continued to play in the background. Skittering sounds, the creak and scrape of branches in the slight breeze, each of these things haunted his imagination and prevented true slumber.

Every so often a loud shrieking noise, or the hoot of an owl would awaken him if the world though that he'd become too restful.

The night was long. It was hard. It was dark. Still, much like a newly minted adult actress experiencing her first interracial boy-girl scene, in the end he made it through like a champ.

Scott lowered his tired ass from his treetop perch and set about his business. After a sumptuous feast of hard jerky with biscuits, and a rousing game of bury the evidence was played featuring his poop as a guest star, he set out for glorious adventure.

The solid earthen floor of the forest soon gave way to the squishier footing of a swamp. Large insects, and even larger snakes, appeared frequently. So far he'd avoided locating this world's version of an alligator and he hoped to keep it that way.

Various lizards, and strangely designed turtles moved away from him quickly as he strode through the mud and the filth of the swamp. Solid footing became hard to find over time, and soon every step that he took made a sucking sound reminiscent of someone plunging a toilet.

Every so often he took his map out to make certain that he was going in the proper direction, but the slow movement through the swamp only made it seem as though he'd made little to no progress.

"Is this map not to scale?" asked Scott in annoyance. He'd already slogged through the swamp for the better part of the morning, but did not feel as though he'd gained much ground according to the map.

He put the map away and sought out something that resembled dry ground. A large tree in the distance offered what he sought, but the closer he came to it the stranger he felt. Something was off about the area. While the tree seemed to be nothing more than a common weeping willow tree, the small island it sat upon was not home to any other plants or animals. Even insects seemed to avoid it.

Was it nothing more than his imagination, or was something wrong there? He looked around briefly and spied a long stick. "Good bit of weight to it," he said with a nod.

Scott hurled the stick toward the distant tree with all the strength he could muster. For a brief moment he thought that he was being overly cautious and nothing would happen. His eyes snapped wide and he choked a little when the muddy water near the little island bubbled. Roots shot up out of the water and snatched the stick out of the air. Quick as a flash it was down into the mud, fate unknown.

"So... Yeah," said Scott. "That just happened..."

Deciding that the tree was not the best place to have lunch, Scott turned away from the island and looked for some of the odd wildlife. He saw a reasonably fat snake a good distance away and decided to go in that direction. It slithered away as he approached, always a good sign as far as he was concerned.

Most of the animal life in the swamp avoided him. The insects considered him an all-you-can-eat buffet, but that was to be expected really.

Scott grinned like an idiot when a fat little rat with a mohawk hairstyle leapt from a nearby tree. It spread its legs out and glided through the air like a flying squirrel. It lacked the tail of such a creature, but it was still fun to watch.

Life in the swamp followed simple rules. Animals kept to themselves and avoided monsters. Monsters kept to themselves and avoid each other while trying to lure in or hunt down the animals. So far everything seemed interested in avoiding Scott, but he'd developed a hypothesis regarding that factor.

One false move in the swamp could lead to death. He was an outside element, a foreign species of creature. The animals were wary of anything out of the ordinary, and the monsters capable of reasonable thought processes were wary of anything that caused undue caution in their prey. So far, only the occasional tree or plant bothered to attack him, or showed signs of wanting to attack him.

It was not like a videogame. Every creature in the swamp did not immediately converge on him as the main player character. They continued to live their lives in wary observation of his passing.

After checking his map once more, he nodded and continued his journey. Soon, he found that the footing improved. The ground became more stable and solid underfoot. Not long after that, he saw something in the distance.

A partial ruin of what once must have been an important building waited for him. A wide stream of putrid mud separated it from the swamp, like a natural boundary.

"So, that's it, huh?" asked Scott. He eyeballed the ruin for a moment then looked around for a way to cross the stream. It was easy to spot a series of moss covered rocks, on one side of him, and what appeared to be a rotting log bridge in the distance.

The stones were closer. He went toward them and picked up a few rocks and sticks in the process. He spent quite some time throwing his gathered missile to see if anything happened. No matter how many times he smacked a stone with a stick or rock, nothing changed.

"Guess it's worth a shot," he said quietly.

Scott hopped and skipped along the stones. As he did so, the muddy stream behind him began to move strangely. Never realizing the danger he was in, Scott reached the halfway point just as mud-soaked finger bones rose up from the muck. Blackened by age and rot, the hand moved to grip the stone nearby. A skeletal head rose up from the mire, a long dead minnow rotting within the confines of its left eye socket.

Soon a dozen more skeletal figures began to rise quietly from the muck. Scott became alerted to their presence after a few more hopes when the scrape of bone on rock caught his attention. He looked back just in time to see a rotting black skeletal figure leer at him. An old corroded helmet on its head, and pieces of badly decayed armor completed its unholy ensemble.

Scott's eyes widened. It took a moment to process what was happening as he'd never seen something like it before in his life, at least not outside of a movie.

The skeletal figure's mouth opened wide then fell sideways as its rotting jaw finally gave way. Scott blinked slowly then snickered. "Damn, you were scary for a moment, huh?"

He looked back to where he was going and proceeded to keep hopping along the stones. As he moved along, more skeletal soldiers rose up from the muck. However, their movements were slow and lacked slightly in the danger department.

Scott reached the other side of the stream and glanced back. Two of the soldiers managed to make it onto the stones, only to have one fall over sideways into the stream when it lost its footing. His laugh rang out loud and clear, "Gotta watch that first step, fella!" before he trotted off toward his goal.

He considered waiting for the rotting skeletal bastards to climb out of the muck, but he thought better of it. He might get experience, but what if they most granted him the chance to experience exotic new diseases? They were rotting corpses with chunks of flesh and armor barely clinging to their bones. There's no way that touching those things would be healthy. One good whiff of them up close might give him swamp aids or something.

As he left the immediate area, the skeletons lost interest and sank back down into the muck. Sure, he'd have to go back through the skeletons when it was time to leave, but for now he could put off getting the local equivalent of a blood test for skeleton STDs, or whatever disease he'd pick up from the rotten bastards.

"Is it weird that I found that shit funny?" asked Scott rhetorically as he trotted up toward the entrance to the ruin. After the rape beast in the forest, goofy skeletons with poor balance weren't as much of an issue to him.

Upon arrival at the entrance, Scott pulled out his shield. He tested both it and his manly sword for a moment. "Hmm, little hard to use it one-handed," said Scott after experimenting. Not only was it unwieldy due to its size, but the weight of it made it harder to use.

"Ah well, I'll make due for now," he said after a moment. "Can just put the shield away if I need more to, I guess."

He stopped trying to reason with himself, or rather he stopped procrastinating, and headed into the ruin. Upon entering, he received his first message screen in a while.

 

[Tomb of the Forgotten Blade]

Within these unholy halls lies a forgotten blade forged in ancient times. The restless dead, drawn by her beautiful light, have made this ruin their home. Beware, they do not like to be reminded of what they lost, and will seek out any living being who trespasses and disturbs their slumber.

[--]

 

[Quest!]

Optional: Seek out the forgotten blade, and discover the truth lost to history.

Reward: 1000 EXP

[--]

"Well, that's certainly interesting," said Scott. "Quests are a thing..."

He entered the tomb and began to search the area. The first room was a ramshackle of broken masonry and ransacked coffins. Wood and other debris littered the area. Centuries of rot, neglect, and constant raiders left their mark on the place.

Deeper inside, he entered a long corridor lined with coffins. Bones, and shards of bones, were scattered all around the area. Ancient dust and dim-lighting, provided by cracks and holes in the ceiling of the ruin, played tricks on his eyes.

"Probably don't need a torch," said Scott. He saw weird little images out of the corners of his eyes, but could not tell if they were images of true movement or just slightly blurred stationary objects.

A low moan echoed through the area once he made it through the corridor. Scott's eyes darted left and right. Was it the wind, or was it the dead?

He entered a large central chamber that offered the view of a strange faded statue, and dozens of sarcophagi lining the walls. Some made of wood, some of stone, all were in various states of destruction or disarray. Looters picked the place clean over the years; that much was obvious.

No rattling bones or scraping swords caught his attention. Were all of the dead outside the tomb itself? Why would Admi Nistrata announce their presence if that was the case? Confused, Scott pressed onward toward the center of the tomb.

He stood before the statue and briefly looked it over. The ancient sculpture looked surprisingly new, like it had just been carved. It featured a naked woman kneeling on her hands and knees. Her eyes were wide, and her face wore an expression of extraordinary pain. He mouth hung open, her lips frozen in an anguished scream. A stray hair across her face gave the statue the appearance of some semblance of life.

"Damn, I'd probably look like this too if it was me," said Scott. Behind the kneeling woman, the golden handle of a sword protruded from between her ass cheeks. It was positioned in such a way that the blade would be buried inside the body of the statue, though upon closer inspection there was a hint of metal protruding from the space between her breasts.

Dozens of scratches and deep gouges were evident in the stone around the statue, but none were to be seen on the statue itself. Even the point where the sword penetrated her admittedly curvaceous backside was free of scrapes and gouges. Despite what must have been thousands of attempts, her ass remained pristine. It had not been ruin by the machinations of thieves and looters.

"The wind didn't do that," said Scott a sour expression on his lips. "How'd the sword get in there? Was it made that way?"

"Damned tomb raiders," said Scott a moment later. The rest of the room seemed empty at a glance. There might be nothing here worth seeing other than this poor woman's memory.

Whatever this ridiculous and disturbing statue represented, it was meant to tell a story. Somehow that story remained to be told despite centuries of looting and neglect.

Scott stood before the golden handle of the blade. Buried to the hilt in stone, it was no wonder that people found it impossible to move. Scott put his hand to the handle of the blade and pulled. Nothing happened.

He snorted then put both hands to the handle and pulled harder. It still refused to budge.

Not one to be easily swayed, and partially due to the fact that he did not want to leave empty handed after slogging through the swamp. Scott hopped up onto her back, like a cowboy facing the wrong way, and pulled it forward.

When that didn't work, he got off of her and gripped the sword tight in both hands once more. He planted one foot on her ass and pulled with everything he had. Eventually, his other foot rose up and he held himself aloft while using both hands to pull, and both feet pushed against the rotund glory that was her ancient stone booty. Every ounce of his strength was put into the pull, but the blade still refused to move.

He continued to try for several long minutes. Eventually, he realized that he was not the man of legend who would pull the sword from the stone.

"You know, no one even knows who you are anymore," said Scott to the statue after a silent moment passed. Whether it was because he felt slighted by the sword, or because he wanted to apologize for looking foolish in front of the statue, it was hard to say.

"All we know is that there is a sword here. Hell, I don't even know if it's really a sword and not just an ornament."

Scott let those words settle in for a moment. Nothing stirred in the ancient tomb, nothing but his own breathing. Now that the most basic attempt was over, he could not help but wonder if he'd done something wrong. If this world truly was a game, then the legendary hero would be able to pull the sword from the stone. It was like, a rule, or something.

In truth, the entire situation made little sense. There was a golden handle sticking out of a slab of stone. Wouldn't someone have just broken the handle off years ago and sold it for exotic hooker money? They'd obviously tried at one point, yet the statue was still in one piece. How was that even possible?

He reached for the handle once more, but then stopped. The rumors that he'd heard, and the words that Amelie spoke rose to the forefront of his mind. Mitsuki's words joined them a moment later.

"A sword no one's ever been able to pull out, but only the strongest man can do it," said Scott. It was typical fantasy game plot nonsense. It made sense as a means to an end, but not in reality.

"So, why didn't the strongest guy before me do it?" he asked after a moment. "I mean, even if men can't gain levels anymore, does that really make sense? Some other guy was strongest before I came around."

"You're some kind of sword woman, right?" Scott asked the statue. His assumption was that the statue was of the so-called sword goddess forgotten by time. That much of the story at least made sense.

Scott frowned. It made no sense. Why would a sword goddess, rather a woman of renowned swordsmanship be waiting around for only the right man to pull her sword? Shouldn't she want a legacy, another woman to carry on in her stead?

Several minutes passed as he thought the situation over. He could just grab the handle and give it a tug. If it didn't come out, that was the end of it. Still, just like with the tree in the swamp, this situation seemed a little off.

Scott thought of what Amelie told him, of Mistuki. He tried to recall what he'd just seen on the message screen. "Amelie and Mitsuki mentioned the fact that no one could draw the sword, but the message didn't mention drawing it at all."

There was something to that last bit. Scott thought it over briefly and repeated what he could remember. "Here lies a forgotten blade forged in ancient times..."

"The restless dead, drawn by her light—" began Scott, only to stop part of the way into the line. "Wait, her light?"

He was no master gamer, but he'd played enough games and read enough fantasy novels to recognize a clue when he heard one. Scott eyed the worn, but life-like statue. "It's not this sword is it?"

Scott pointed at the statue, "You're the forgotten blade, aren't you?"

The revelation did not cause any sort of change in the statue or the room, but Scott felt confident that he was right. This statue was some sort of commemoration of a time when this woman had a sword shoved up her ass. What did it mean? What was the truth?

"Maybe there are some clues in here, somewhere?" he asked. It was a long shot. The place was wrecked due to the ravages of time and looters.

He began to search the area. Time passed as he looked in every sarcophagus, and poked every pile of dusty old bones. There was nothing. If a clue ever existed in this place it was long since lost.

Scott realized that there were no clues. He sighed softly and acknowledged his defeat. There was no way to know who this woman used to be, or why someone made a statue of her with a sword shoved in its ass.

He started to leave, but stopped after a few steps were taken. Scott sighed heavily. "This just isn't right."

The statue was damned disturbing, also a little hilarious. Still, the statue remained neglected for quite some time. Though the stone was pristinely undamaged, it was quite dirty. He took out a few bandages and some water then sat about cleaning the statue off. He took special care to clean her ass, since he'd had his feet all over it.

Eventually, he wrapped some of the bandages around the woman's chest and back-end to provide a little feminine modesty. Why did he do it? Even he was not certain. It just didn't feel right to leave the statue the way it was, especially since it held such life-like detail. If nothing else came of this trip, he could at least feel better about himself for taking care of such a ridiculous, but well-crafted, cultural artifact.

"Sorry, but that's all I know to do for you," said Scott. "Maybe someday I'll find out why you have a sword up your ass, but at least you're not a dirty girl anymore."

He turned and began to walk away once more, but stopped suddenly when he heard a soft voice whisper, "Thank you..."

"Eh? You're welcome," he said. Had he imagined it? Who knows? In a world like this it could be anything, really.

Scott started to leave again, but the voice gasped and spoke again, "Thou can hear me?"

"Uh, yeah..." Scott turned back toward the statue. This was starting to get a little creepy, even by the standards of being in a room where a statue has a sword rammed up its ass. "Are you just my imagination? I'd rather not be going crazy."

"Thou can really hear me? It's not possible," said the voice.

"Look, random voice-over woman, I can hear you," said Scott. "Are you like the long dead soul of the statue chick with a sword up her ass?"

"Ah, yes... It is as thou sayeth. Though, thy mannerisms are most strange and many of thy words are nonsensical," said the voice, a hint of annoyance in her tone.

"It's what I do," said Scott with a shrug. He'd met a bonafide goddess. What was one more voice in his head? Still, it was weird to have the voice in his head refer to his words as nonsense when she spoke like someone who once saw a Shakespearean play.

 "I... see..." she said after a brief moment.

Silence reigned for a time. Neither spoke. Only Scott's breathing offered any sort of noise worthy of being heard.

"So, anyway... How'd that sword end up in there, and is there any way to get it out?" asked Scott.

"It is a long, and sad tale that ends in treachery and betrayal," she said softly.

"I've got plenty of time," said Scott.

"Thou wouldst listen to my tragedy?" she asked curiously.

"I wouldst," said Scott before walking over to the statue. "Mind if I sit on your back? It's the only clean place."

"Thou would sit upon my corpse? Have thee no shame?"

"There's no shame in my game," said Scott before hopping onto the statue's back. He wiggled his ass and became comfortable.

"Thou art a beast..." said the voice petulantly.

"Maybe, but I'm a beast who's willing to hear about your exposition heavy backstory," said Scott without missing a beat.

"Heavy backstory? Was that another joke about my backside..." she asked.

"That ass is no joke. It's the truth!" said Scott before smacking the statue on the rear.

"I... do not wish to speak with thee further..." said the voice in a disgusted tone.

"Hasn't it been at least a thousand years since you had a conversation?" asked Scott.

There was no answer. Scott waited a few minutes then said, "Look, I know I'm weird. All I was doing was trying to lighten the mood. It's obvious you've been here alone and forgotten for a long time."

"My mood would be lightened considerably if thou removed thyself from my back," she said.

Scott stood up and dusted her back off. "No problem."

"So, anyway. What's your name?" asked Scott. "How'd you come to be like this?"

"I am the Celestial Guardian, Nova Ascarta," she said quietly. A moment later, she continued, "And this is the tale of my doom..."

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Scottf14

  • Dark Lord of Parody

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