The Quest for the Holy GRail

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OrangeRKN
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PostThe Quest for the Holy GRail
by OrangeRKN » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:33 pm

In early 2019 an eleven strong group of GRcadians took part in a quest to find the Holy GRail. For the greater reading pleasure of the forum at large, here is just the story, in full, by those who told it.

Stick with it for a journey through GRcade history, including several old familiar faces and a ton of old and outdated forum memes! Not only does the story go places, but despite the odds it comes together for a satisfying and mostly coherent conclusion. Enjoy!

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OrangeRKN
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PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by OrangeRKN » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:34 pm

The Holy GRail. The world's most famous and sought after relic, spoken of in forum legend since time immemorial. Most people concluded it was exactly that - a legend. Despite countless theories of its nature and location, no verfiable proof of the GRail's existence has ever been ascertained.

That is, until now.

Four days ago, in the land of GRcade, an ancient text was uncovered, happened upon by chance in the early posts of a bot-bumped thread. Its content was cryptic, but it undisputably spoke of the Holy GRail, and in no uncertain terms made out that the GRail was real.

Eleven GRcadians were convinced enough by this new discovery that they decided to set out together on a journey. A journey to find the Holy GRail...

*

It is the morning of departure. Having said their goodbyes, the eleven strong group has gathered at the gates of GRcade, ready to set out on their journey together.

The huge doors swing open, revealing the rolling hills of the surrounding country in the bright morning sun, and the group walk out onto the road... only to be almost immediately stopped by a cloaked figure stood waiting for them.

"Greetings," says the man, "I had heard some people were setting out on a journey to find the Holy GRail. I must warn you that such a quest is a waste of time, for the GRail certainly cannot be found, and you should all turn around and return home right now."

"However," he continues, "Should you press on regardless, there are some things about the GRail you should know. I represent an organisation with a vested interested in matters relating to the GRail, and the information we hold would surely prove useful on your journey."

"There is a church not far from here, just along the road. Send one member of you party there, and make sure they come alone. Then and only then will you find out more. Farewell!"

The man turns away from the group and begins walking away.

A chance of information about the GRail is too good an opportunity to pass up. The man however did seem a little more than slightly suspicious. The group should choose one person to go to the church alone, as instructed, and one person to covertly follow the man to see where he goes.

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OrangeRKN
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PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by OrangeRKN » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:34 pm

DarkRula waits until the man is some distance away along the road, and then sets off in stealthy pursuit. ​Karl follows some distance again behind and walking in the open, his destination instead the church. Before long the man has turned off the road and disappeared into the surrounding country, and ​DarkRula with him, leaving ​Karl alone as instructed as he approaches the stone chapel.

A small building in the Norman style, the wooden doors swing freely open. Inside the church is empty bar one person sitting on the second row pew. ​Karl recognises him as the man from before.

"How did you-"

"Get here so quick?" ventures the man, rising to his feet. "The organisation I work for grants its representatives many useful abilities. It comes with the nature of our work. For example, I know you had me followed."

The man's eyes narrow and he points to the ceiling. ​Karl looks up to see ​DarkRula suspended from the rafters, frozen in some kind of blue crystal, eyes captured wide open in shock and surprise.

"I had hoped we might work together, your group and mine, but you have proven yourself untrusworthy. I was going to tell you about R.E.L.I.C, and our quest for the Holy GRail, and how our extensive research has narrowed down its location to the Kingdom of Grailtopia, far to the west of here. But I'm not going to tell you any of that. Instead I'm going to kill you."

From his cloak the man pulls a handgun and aims it directly at ​Karl.

"I'm sorry it had to end this way."

The man fires, the bullet piercing straight through ​Karl's heart, killing him instantly. At the same time the cross above the altar glows with an unearthly light and the man cries out in pain, dropping the handgun to the flagstone floor as it glows red hot.

"Ah, to kill in a Church, I had forgotten the rules..." he grimaces.

The man reaches into his pocket with his unburned hand and pulls out a small wax idol, muttering some words over it. With a crackle of electricity a shimmering portal appears in front of him. He steps through into the void, the portal closing shut behind him, leaving ​DarkRula suspended in crystal above ​Karl's stilled body.

Some time passes, and hearing nothing the rest of the group arrive at the church. After the initial shock of finding ​Karl's corpse pooled in blood, someone spots ​DarkRula suspended from the ceiling, and with careful effort he is lowered to the ground. The crystallisation appears to be wearing off, first around ​DarkRula's head, reviving him and allowing him to recount what happened in the church below. He probably won't be back to normal for a full day, but at least he's alive.

Now the group had a destination - Grailtopia. They couldn't have wished for a better start to their journey!

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PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by Clarkman » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:35 pm

“Should we bury him?”

The group have propped Karl’s corpse against the Church wall – his head slumped forward in what might be mistaken for prayer.

“There’s no time,” says DarkRula, his voice weak. “We have to move. We have to head west immediately.”

“You’re being heartless,” Drumstick says. “Does the legend of the GRail mean nothing to you? The GRail is supposed to unite us – it is supposed to represent the values we once shared.”

“That murdering bastard must have a very different sense of values,” says Ironhide, fury in his eyes. “Do we trust what he says about Grailtopia? It could be a trap. It seems too easy.”

“He spoke of rules,” DarkRula says. “He was not supposed to shoot in the Church. There must be others – his kind must have a weakness.”

“We have no other leads,” says Hulohot. “We won’t make the same mistakes again. Perhaps we could head to the Great Library – there are surely answers there, and it is west of here anyway, by the Lake of Strawberry Float. We could make it there before sundown.”

The group reluctantly agrees to leave Karl’s corpse behind, and head on, towards the Great Library. Jenuall leads a prayer in the Old Language of GRcade in memory of their fallen champion.

There are no wolves among us,
No fools of gooseberry hue.
We rip in peace and heartache,
In memory of you.

So better seven than eight,
What goes on toast does stay.
To ten more years of trolling,
Let Scotty point the way.


By the time the group reaches the lake, it is dark and the waters are choppy. A candle light flickers in the library entrance window.

“It is late,” says Somebody Else’s Problem. “We can’t all head in – it would be too suspicious, and our mission must remain secret. Clearly, we have enemies. Our most scholarly member of the party should head inside to research through the night while the rest of us find shelter.”

“And what about tomorrow?” says Mic. “We’ll need to cross the lake in the morning if we are to eventually reach Grailtopia. Someone will need to find us a boat.”

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PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by Clarkman » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:35 pm

Hulohot approaches the grand, oak doors of the Great Library and confidently lifts the door knocker. He raps down on the wood twice, three times, then twice more in quick succession.

A stirring can be heard inside. A voice comes from behind the door.

“The secret knock is a sign of power,
Who dares to disturb us at this late hour?”

“Baron, it’s me, Hulohot, you old fool. Open the door and let me in.”

The door opens an inch, exposing a shadowed face. It is the keeper of the library, The Baron of Rhymes. Upon seeing the familiar face of his old friend, he opens the door, smiling, pulling Hulohot inside by the hand.

“It has been some time since I shook this hand,
how is your child, your wife, your land?”

“The kingdom of GRcade is suffering, Baron. Our membership is falling, and Lagamorph still posts in the Pics and Gifs thread. But there is hope - a long forgotten thread was bumped last week by the divine bots. There was ancient text, talking of the fabled GRail. We have ventured forth to find the GRail and unite the forum once more.”

“The GRail?” says the Baron, his face suddenly drained of colour.

“You know of the GRail? You must help me old friend!”

“Be careful, friend, of this grave quest,
the GRail is bound by rules and tests.”

“There was another man who spoke of rules – he murdered one of our party in cold blood and froze another. He said he was part of an organisation called RELIC. You must come with us to help on our journey!”

“No, no,” says the Baron, taking a step back into the library. “I have the wisdom only of books and tales,
The legends of Grailtopia and those who failed.
The one you met, the wandering knight,
The was a Mod, that devil blight.
They seek only to derail and and ban,
To quiet every daring man.
You poor shot friend – an IP block,
Your frozen friend – a classic lock.
RELIC stands for
To challenge Mods is not in vogue,
But there’s one who can – the Mod of Rogue!
He is a traitor and a sneak,
But holds the keys for what you seek.
The Rogue will help you pass the test,
For he knows their ways by far the best.
You’ll find him at the Inn of Nood,
Across the lake – they serve good food!
Just greet him with a humble rhyme,
He’ll know I sent you, and spare you time.”

“Thank you, old friend,” says Hulohot. “A thousand thanks! May I bring my party inside?”

“Libraries are public, and I’m not controlling!
Stick around, and we’ll go bowling.”

-----------

By the lake, Somebody Else’s Problem walks the shoreline. A distance away, he sees a moored rowboat bobbing on the wake, tied loosely to a pole in the ground. The vessel is painted in Red and Yellow stripes. Up close, Somebody Else’s Problem can read a name painted on the hull: the SS Puyol.

There is no sign of human life for as far as Somebody Else’s Problem can see. He approaches the boat and begins to untangle the ship from its harness.

But as he fights with the rope, the water stirs. A figure rises from the depths – in a full Barcelona kit, holding a pint of Larger in one hand, and a sword in the other.

“What the Strawberry Float do you think you’re doing with my boat, you tool? I’m Dblock of the Lake. I could toast you right here just for touching my property.”

“I mean no harm, great spirit,” Somebody Else’s Problem says, cowering. “I wish only safe passage for my party. We are headed west, towards Grailtopia.”

“Yeah, I hear that. But champions like me don’t let Stawberry Floaters float without a toll. I don’t put up with it from those RELIC losers and I won’t put up with it from you.”

“What does RELIC stand for, spirit?”

“They’re the Regulatory Enforcers of Lawful Imposed Control – the Mods. Wastemen. And you look like one of them.”

“I assure you I am not. What are your demands, spirit?”

“I demand that you get Christen Eriksen to sign for Barcelona in the Summer Transfer Window. Either than or human sacrifice. It’s all good, bruv.”

“But spirit, Daniel Levy will never let the Dane go!”

“Then your choice is made, innit. For the good of the team and that.”

“Do I have your word spirit, that my sacrifice will ensure the safety of my comrades.”

“I swear on Messi’s left foot. Now step forth into my domain. I’m going to pick the flesh from your batty little bones.”

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Dannie Lennox
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PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by Dannie Lennox » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:39 pm

The party - OrangeRKN, Jenuall, Drumstick, DarkRula, Quantum Name, Clarkman, Ironhide, mic and Hulohot - spent the night in the Great Library, learning all they can from its many books on myths and legends of the Forum continent.

"Friends, it's late, and I grow weary;
Mind is slow and eyes are bleary.
The time has come to rest my head
I urge you, travellers; off to bed!"

"What about Somebody Else's Problem?" asked Clarkman.
"Well, that's somebody else's problem, isn't it?" chuckled Quantum Name. The rest of the group was unimpressed, but all were exhausted, and soon accepted the Baron's kind offer of a warm bed and a hearty breakfast.

*

The next day, the adventurers - well-rested and well-informed - left the library and headed lakeside. They came across a red-and-yellow boat, but SEP was nowhere to be found. The group split up and spent an hour searching the shoreline and surrounding area.

"Maybe there was another boat, and he's gone ahead."
"Maybe he turned back?"
"Perhaps he's somewhere in the library and just got lost."
"Whatever he's done, we can't delay forever. We have to push west!"

They decided to leave a letter for Somebody Else's Problem at the library, explaining what had happened, and carry on with their journey. It was far from an ideal solution, they concluded, but then it was a far from ideal situation, and they departured in the hope that SEP would meet up with them somehow later. Jenuall and IronHide took the first rowing shift.

*

The land of GRcade, with its picturesque hills, lycanthropic forests and infamous bowling alleys, was but a distant memory now as the group of nine continued their journey west, to Grailtopia, in their distinct rowing boat. The lake was vast, and the heavens had opened some hours earlier; though the rain had subsided somewhat, and the group no longer had to desperately scoop up water with buckets to prevent the boat from becoming submerged, the wind was still bitterly cold.

Huddled together, those not currently rowing speculated as to what the GRail meant.
"I heard it grants immunity from bannings," said one.
"I heard it allows you to resurrect fallen mothers through the sacrificial use of PSPs," said another.
"I heard it's just a folder of Lizzy Vaid pics," a third voice whispered quietly.

After a long while, the vessel had reached the edge of the lake.
"There it is!" exclaimed Hulohot, pointing to a fallen bridge. Railway sleepers hung from its broken edge.

Hulohot showed the group the map he'd hurriedly sketched in the Great Library. It clearly indicated the major points of reference for the vast continent: the walled nation of GRcade in the east; the notorious Cohaagen Airbase in the centre-south of the landmass; the jagged coastline at its north, with its contrasting east-and-westmost points, the pirate port of Jhee-ar-Khade and the mysterious Quiet Ewe Cove, clearly marked. It was well-known that the continent of Bas-Ler awaited those that would cross at the North, and not since a particularly legendary crew had destroyed themselves from within, convinced a wolf was among them, had a sailing vessel been lost at sea. But the West was an unknown quantity, with less known about what might await beyond Cash Mountain.

"From what I could tell from the atlas, to find the inn, we follow the tracks," explained Hulohot. "Get on the trainline, and just walk. After a while, we'll get to the station we need. It'll be abandoned now, but the sign should be intact. And then it's just a little while from there to the inn."

The party followed the track for several miles, their progress only halted hours later when they came upon the decimated ruins of a train. Piled in with the debris were various gold-copper limbs, as if formerly belonging to an ancient, giant cyborg. Like many a thread, it appeared to have ultimately been derailed by a massive brass neck.

"The GRcade Express," DarkRula read aloud from the side of what was once a carriage.

"It won't be far now," Drumstick advised. "One of the books said that train was destroyed by R.E.L.I.C."

"They destroy trains?" shouted Quantum Name from atop the wreckage. "Crikey. How do they help us get to Grailtopia again? I thought we were looking for this Rogue Mod chap?"

"We are," explained Hulohot. "We need him to establish exactly where Grailtopia is. Four days ago none of us knew of its existence, and the lore isn't consistent as to its location. But not only will the Rogue tell us how to get there - if the Baron is right, he'll have the key to get us in."

No-one spoke. The group trudged on. Maybe half an hour later, mic broke the silence, pointing at a vast building site to their south.

"Hulohot, is that anything to do with where we're going?" asked mic.

"I've no idea," Hulohot confessed.

"I think I've heard of that place," IronHide chimed in. "I read somewhere that they're building a giant foundry there, but the project keeps getting delayed and the completion date gets put back. Some sort of future-tech, I think. It'll be decades before it's built, I reckon. I think they said it was all nano-"

"We're there!" shouted Hulohot. Distracted by the distant foundry, they'd not realised the station was now in sight. "Come on!"

An excited Hulohot sped up as he led the way. They wound their way through the long-forgotten train station, out of its building and into the adjacent town. An old sign informed them of their whereabouts:

WROPONT
TWINNED WITH ZWEISELBERG


"I don't feel great about this place," said Jenuall. "It doesn't look like anyone's been here in years."

The party followed Hulohot down empty streets past dilapidated buildings. Foliage had begun to reclaim the land from its concrete oppressors and the whole area had an otherworldly feel, like a real jungle slowly invading an urban one. Yet the town was only small, and it wasn't long until they were at its outskirts again, at another side. A woodland was within their sight, as was an old single structure at its outset.

"Pub, then, chaps?" joked OrangeRKN.

It was indeed an inn. Its sign was faded, but clear:

ASK THE FORUM

However, it was the wall underneath that bore the building's true sign, messily scrawled on in red spraypaint:

NOOD WAS HERE

Inside, amidst the cobwebs and dusty tables, was an old bar. Half-filled glasses attracted dead flies. From the pegs on the walls were hung blue hats.

"Right then," mic chuckled, "who's for a pint?" He lifted the hinge on the bar and walked round, assuming the role of innkeeper. Suddenly able to see the whole pub, his smile quickly vanished. Noticing his horrified expression, the group turned.

Laid rigid on a table at the back of the room was the cloaked figure that had killed Karl. They approached his corpse; there was no smell.

"He's not been dead long," surmised Clarkman.

"Do we think he was the Rogue Mod?" asked IronHide.

"Nah, it seems to me he came looking for him, but someone else caught up to him," reckoned Clarkman. "Besides, the Baron said he thought he was part of R.E.L.I.C."

A crashing noise startled them all. It seemed to come from further within the pub, inside a wall without a door. Wordlessly the group surveyed the scene, scanning for clues, until -

"Look! Below the dartboard!"

DarkRula was pointing at the wall; there were a number of stray darts hanging from the wall beneath the target but, surely enough, one was clearly different.

"It's a key," Drumstick realised, as OrangeRKN approached the wall. Indeed, the mismatched dart had been placed in a secret lock, and its door was slightly ajar. The nine GRail hunters moved swiftly inside. It was a relatively large room, perhaps the side of a couple of generous hotel bedrooms, with a desk, a central round table with padded chairs, and cork boards mounted on the walls. Pinned to these were countless scrawlings, sketches, photos and notes.

"The findings of the Wropont Ecclesiastic Lore Investigative Council," IronHide read. "So that's-"

"WR.E.L.I.C.?" said mic.

"This doesn't make any sense," said Hulohot. "Why-"

"Aaaaaargh!"

Quantum Name stumbled backward into a Hulohot, terrified. From behind a pile of old cardboard boxes, the figure of a man had emerged. He walked towards mic, though his movement seemed somehow irregular, as if gliding hesitantly. As it approached, the dim light revealed the figure's familiar face.

"Karl?!"

But as soon as it spoke, it was clear it wasn't Karl.

You fools. They told you not to come here. You know not for what you search, and you will soon wonder why also.

The adventurers were dumbfounded. Sensing their terror, the figure began to emit a manic, high-pitched cackle. When it spoke again, its voice was different.

They don't get it, do they? Oh, how delightful. I like the slow ones. Their faces are just that bit more... entertaining.


"What are you?" stammered DarkRula. The figure laughed again.

Oh, you really don't know anything, do you?


It began to sing.

Row, row, to Wropont
Blood begins to stream
Verily verily verily verily
Drown amongst the screams


The deep voice returned.

You've come all this way yet not realised what it is you've done? You've walked the path, crossed the lake and followed the tracks, and yet the connection evades you.

Ooh, let me. You got the other one!


No. I shall end them. I've no sympathy for GRail hunters who can't even spot a link.

The figure began to glow. As it did so, a ghostly hourglass appeared in the air beside it. The hourglass turned and the grains within began to fall.

"Look!" screeched Jenuall, pointing at a wooden mallet strewn on the floor.

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Dannie Lennox
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PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by Dannie Lennox » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:40 pm

Drumstick lunged for the hourglass.

You cannot make another post so soon after your last.

"Aaaaaargh!"

The glass firmly in his grasp, Drumstick began to shake violently. Steam rose from his body as if simmering. His skin wrinkled rapidly and his hair whitened. Within seconds he let go of the hourglass and collapsed to the floor, impossibly aged, and dead. The others looked on, aghast.

"Noooo!"

IronHide had claimed the mallet. In manic fury, he swung at Karl. The spirit creature barely flinched as the wood connected with the head that was once their friend's.

The spirit laughed in its deep voice.

"Tomorrow, we ride for Cash Mountain."

The spirit's expression went swiftly from amusement to shock. The party looked around, bewildered. The voice they'd heard was not one of their own.

Maybe they do know the rules after all.

Oh come on, that was a lucky guess!


You know our code. We cannot touch them now...

A bizarre noise filled the room, then vanished. Karl's lifeless body fell to the floor. The spirit was gone.

"What on earth?" said Clarkman.

There was a moment of devastated silence. Then, again, the mystery voice spoke:

"Is it safe now?"

OrangeRKN carried Karl and IronHide carried Drumstick out from the side room as the group headed back into the bar area. Jenuall called back to the voice: "Who are you?"

"My name's James," the voice called back. "Has that thing gone?"

"It's gone," said mic. The bodies of the fallen were laid on the table alongside the cloaked figure.

The sound of footsteps on a wooden stairway could be heard. Then, surprisingly, another hidden door swung open, from behind the bar. A small, elderly man walked out.

"You're James?"

James smiled. "That's me. James Radar. Pleased to make your acquaintance."

"Are you the Rogue Mod?" asked Quantum Name.

James chuckled. "I have been known by that name in my time, yes."

James' smile dissipated when he spied Karl's body.

"I knew this man," he explained. "He was once a prodigious child who associated with the R.E.L.I.C.s. Was he travelling with you?"

"He was," IronHide said. "We're a group from GRcade and we're seeking the GRail."

"I am sorry for your loss. I don't know your older friend, though," James said, indicating Drumstick's lifeless body.

"What about this guy?" asked DarkRula, pointing at the cloaked figure. James stepped towards the body, then chuckled in recognition.

"Ah, I know this one too. He was known as Gandalf."

"The grey?"
"The white?"

"The beyond pale," James advised. "He is a R.E.L.I.C. from the very old days."

"He shot Karl in a church," Hulohot said bitterly.

James chuckled again. "He never did think the rules applied to him."

"What are these rules?" OrangeRKN demanded. "We've already seen two of our friends die on this search and despite all our research, we're none the wiser. The Baron of Rhymes told us at the Great Library that you could help us find the GRail before R.E.L.I.C. do, but it turns out you're part of a different RELIC. What's going on? Can you help us, or not?"

The room went awkwardly quiet. James walked through the room and back behind the bar. He rested his hands on the counter and spoke firmly, addressing the group.

"The other RELICs," he began, "exist because the true identity of the real group is well-concealed - so well concealed that others form, convinced that they don't exist, are only legend. There's R.E.L.L.I.C. in Jhee-ar-Khade, there's a R.E.L.I.K. operating out of the Forest of Vamps, there are countless others I do and don't know about. My group existed purely so I could exploit local knowledge to keep an eye on the activities of the true group. And the true group encourage the fakers because it helps maintain their anonymity."

"So you knew the mods?" asked DarkRula.

"Oh, yes," James replied. "After the revolution, when the Kingdom of Radar Nation fell, my family lost everything. Those you call "mods" were once only the Enlisted Lieutenants Implementing Control of the new Republic of GRcade. But when they seized control and became something else, it was no longer safe for my family in your country."

"So what makes you a Rogue Mod?" asked mic.

"I was there from the very start of the Republic's existence. I was only a young man and they didn't see me sneak into the mod room and grant myself control. I never sought to take back power - I only wanted to know of their actions, so that I could keep the other Radars safe."

"I only shared this power once before," James continued. "The one called Nood sought me out. I had no idea he and his allies wanted to hurt people. They found them and banned him. Regretting my decision, I fled here. Nood sought revenge, and he found me, but it was the last thing he did - he's somewhere under the train rubble you passed now. I am not to be messed with, you see. I may look like something from the past, but I once represented Future, and the power that came with it."

The group looked at each other uneasily.

"I will help you," James announced, "because if R.E.L.I.C. are after the GRail too, then it'll soon be found, and I would far rather its power was yours than theirs. But first, you need to know what they do. Let me explain the rules to you."

*

"There are things that must not be done. These things sometimes apply to all - so to make a post in death is always forbidden, for example - and some are rules that apply specifically between groups - so no member of R.E.L.I.C. may ban or harm another.

But it isn't just the forbidden things that govern their code. These particular individuals are used to a different time. Back in their day, when they were dominant, they were bound by structure. Now the republic is different, they yearn for the structure, the rigidity of days gone by.

It was once so that everything that occurred had to occur a certain way. Discussion of games had to be appropriately categorised. If you wished to put a question before the Forum Elders, it had to take place at an inn such as this one. Any conversation regarding anything creative, or particularly ancient, or just somehow off-topic, was bound by the code to take place within a specific context, else it would be moved, or shut down.

But R.E.L.I.C. are also bound by their code not to intervene in matters they don't fully understand, until they have fully played themselves out. If you know a thing to be mistakenly categorised, you can fix that; but if you don't comprehend exactly what it is a thing is, then how can you pass judgement? Such matters are left to a higher power - and this power punishes them for any violations. This makes them wary in unfamiliar situations.

For example: you travelled a lake once man-made for sailing, by rowing across it. Such an act is inconceivable to the ancient mind of a R.E.L.I.C. Likewise, you followed a railroad built for a locomotive without any such engine. Why? How? To not allow an event like this to conclude, and thus then draw conclusions, would be anathema to the R.E.L.I.C. code.

So when I saw through the gaps in my floorboard upstairs that IronHide had clutched at an old polo mallet, I seized my chance. By tricking the spirit - the likes of which I've never come across before, by the way - into thinking we would ride a long way on a sports horse, I forced it to wait before it would intervene."

The party sat in silence for a while, considering James' words. OrangeRKN broke the silence.

"So they do weird stuff when they consider stuff to be weird, then?"

*

"You have as much folklore and rumour now as you'll ever find in this world on the GRail," James advised. "All I can tell you is exactly where to find Grailtopia."

"Is it far?" asked mic.

"It's not near. You'll have to pass Cash Mountain somehow - over it, around, through, I know not.
The source of the river Gnamer is on its southwest side. From there, follow the river to the foothills of another mountain."

"I've never heard of any other mountain in that part of the continent", said Hulohot.

"It's called Sonmountain. Grailtopia is there at its foothills. It's so far west of GRcade, and R.E.L.I.C. have their allies work to conceal its existence, that its no surprise you've not heard of it."

James moved towards the dartboard. He pulled the dart from the bullseye.

"Once you're there," he continued, passing the dart to Jenuall, "you'll need to locate wherever the Mod Room is these days. You'll need this key and a password."

"Great," replied DarkRula, taking the dart-key. "What's the password?"

"Beefburgers."

DarkRula nodded.

"Will you depart straightaway?" James asked.

"Not quite," replied OrangeRKN. "There's something we need to do first; a mistake we're probably best not making again."

*

Later, outside, the group huddled round a small fire. A rudimentary carved headstone marked the grave they'd recently dug for their fallen comrades. A short way away, Gandalf too was buried.

Clarkman led the group in their prayer.

There are no wolves among us,
No fools of gooseberry hue.
We rip in peace and heartache,
In memory of you.


"Not you, though, Gandalf, you git," muttered Quantum Name.

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Hulohot
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Joined in 2008
AKA: dan_e1990
Location: Hampshire
Contact:

PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by Hulohot » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:42 pm

The fire had begun to fade.

Feeling the chill of the nights air, Jenuall opened his eyes.

A distant flicker, moving closer.

A void, darker than the night moved gently through the rudimentary camp, disturbing no one.

A single brilliant candle flickered atop the phantom mass of darkness where the head should have been. Jenuall could not move, could not cry for help. The figure moved closer and lowered itself down as if to whisper in jenualls ear. The heat of the candle seared his cheek.

Moments passed, and nothing was said. Questions raced through jenualls mind. Is this real? Who are you?

The void whispered, "I am the Candle man, I lead R.E.L.I.C. Your must abandon your search for the GRail. The mountain is a lie. You may not see me again."

The candle flickered out, and the void dispersed into the natural darkness as Jenuall drifted to sleep.

_______________

A sharp, bitter breeze was blowing that morning ias the adventurers set off towards cash mountain down windy forest path to the west.

As the hours passed, they all agreed that a break was in order soon.

Through the trees, billowing smoke. It was a house, a familiar house.

A driveway littered with household junk, an orange vintage camper van. Bedside the camper van against the fence line was a collection of Halloween themed carved pumpkins, and a merrily carved log reindeer.

"I know this place..." Clarkman spoke.

At the end of the drive, a messy garage filled to the brim with old furniture, ancient DIY tools and a giant milk churn. The garage comically being filled with the smoke from the barbecue.

Emerging from the back, a large man in a blue jacket, donning a colourful beanie hat stepped into the cold and took seat on a large stool.

Image

"I know of this legend " Clarkman continued. It is Stool Guy, he spends his days sat on his stool, reading newspapers. Braving the cold for no reason, he is like... a neighborhood warden."

DarkRula nodded enthusiastically. " I read tales of this from an old scholar named Vermilion. They say he has a stool granny, and
a prick sometimes stood next to him who was Vermillions' actual degenerate neighbour AKA the Jeremy Kyle fodder with his massive beer gut, feral kids, howling dog, and a face so ugly it would turn milk into cheese."

"Yes," OrangeRKN said. "It is fitting this guy would be guarding the road to the GRail."

Stool Guy spotted the adventurers and put down his newspaper, never leaving his stool.

"Oi, do you know who I am. Get oot of here ya pricks you not allowed past here. I guard the road to Cash Mountain. What are ye doing here?"

Ironhide stepped forward. " We seek the GRail."

"Do ye even know what the GRail is? I was put here by R.E.L.I.C to stop any would be Indiana joneses' from getting to Cash Mountain."

"Can you tell us what the GRail is?" Asked Quantum Name.

Angrily, yet without leaving his stool the Stool Guy began to bellow. "The GRail is whatever the winner decides it to be! You're all in just some big game, being played. No one understands the true nature of the GRail yet, not even R.E.L.I.C. "

Stool Guy rose from his stool, a shocking act, and grabbed the milk churn, launching it at the heroes. Thet avoided the exploding churn, mouldy milk covering them.

"Whatever it is, it's my job to stop you. We will fight in combat to the death. If you win maybe I'll tell you a shortcut to sneak past Cash Mountain if you so choose. Now face me."

Stool Guy turned to old rusty washing machine and reached inside.

"What is he getting?" Hulohot asked.
"Whatever it is, that washing machine has seen better days." DarkRula replied.
"Must have belonged to Cal." OrangeRKN sniggered.
"We all know washing machines live longer with Cal gone." Joked Quantum name.

Clarkman gathered the heroes behind the campervan as all manner of rusty tools and newspapers came flying towards them.

"I think I know his weakness" Clarkman declared. "Someone must fight him one on one, the other must use this camera to take secret candid photographs of him, this will weaken him in battle!."

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Hulohot
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Location: Hampshire
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PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by Hulohot » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:43 pm

OrangeRKN ducked into the shrubbery, leaping over the fence into what appeared to be a ran down neighbours house. Armed with his camera, he crept up the stairs, trying to get a good vantage point. Satisfied with his view, he prepared to snap.

____

Jenuall stepped from cover, dodging some airborne rusty spoons. "I will fight you."

Stool Guy stepped towards Jenuall, a battle of the ages about to commence.

A sudden flash, and then a scream. More rapid flashes. "It's that bloody internet posting stalker again!" Stool Guy screamed, now distracted.
Jenuall went for the kill, but as he did a dark void appeared before him. "You did not heed my words before, you shall not harm my Stool Guy." A candle flickered to life from the black void. "You will fight me instead. The GRail must be left alone." From the darkness grew two muscular limbs. In one hand, a butchers knife and in the other, a metallic blow up sex doll with knives for hands.

"Stool Guy," The Candle-Man spoke, "Head inside and sit with Towel Guy. I will deal with these trespassers."

____

Upstairs, OrangeRKN was spamming the camera when he heard a noise from behind.
"Oi who the goosberry fool are you? You're that strawberry float who keeps posting pictures of my Stool Guy on the internet aren't you!" It was the Jeremy Kyle fodder, Vermilion's overweight degenerate neighbour. He was holding a shotgun.

____

Jenuall dropped to the ground, narrowly avoiding the cleaver-sex doll combo. Mic tossed him the mallet, which Jenuall promptly dropped. Scrambling for his only weapon, Jenuall sensed death.

____

Being a made for trash TV British slob, the nasty neighbour didn't actually know how to use the shotgun. OrangeRKN on sensing this, threw the camera as hard as he could at the mans face, then followed it up with a running shove. The man stumbled to the floor, but was surprisingly agile at getting back up. Orange found himself suddenly wrestling against Slob Guy, who had tremendous strength. His neck wrung, and losing his footing, Orange found himself moving towards the shattered window, and shards of jagged glass.

____

With only a fingertip to the mallet, the Candle-Man's cleaver came down on his leg. He felt no pain and grasped the mallet hard, swinging it at the dark void. Nothing happened, but his swinging momentum allowed him to Dark Souls roll away from another Sex-Doll swipe. Finding his footing, Jenuall grabbed Stool Guy's Stool, which was now a make shift shield. Jenuall knew this was his best chance, and charged.

____


Orange struggled as hard as he could, throwing Slob Guy off balance. Reaching out, ignoring the searing pain, he grasped a blade of glass from the shattered window frame and rammed it into his opponents chest. Screaming, the man lifted Orange, a sudden outburst of strength, carried him out to the landing then threw him down the stairs. Orange landed awkwardly in the main foyer of the house, probably suffering broken bones. He struggled to move as Slob Guy slowly descended the stairs, blade of glass in hand.

____

The cleaver struck the stool and the two wrestled briefly for footing. The sex doll swiped at Jenuall's stomach, and he couldn't tell if he was hit or not. Suddenly overpowered, our hero was knocked to the floor, the stool clattering away. He swiped madly at Candle-Man with the mallet, but knew it was pointless. Candle-Man knelt over Jenuall, pinning him down with immense force. It was over. "Remember, the mountain is a lie."

____

Slob Guy was now stood over Orange. The mans foot holding him to the ground. Orange closed his eyes, waiting for the end.
Slob Guys attention was drawn away at the sudden sound of a screeching tyres, and before either of them knew what had happened, a car crashed through the front of the house, annihilating both Slob Guy and Orange into bloody, tyre grinded chunks.
Inside the car, a elderly couple. "I thought you said this was the drive-thru."
"No you stupid man, I said the drive-thru was on the left, not the right."

____

As the Butchers knife was about to come down, Jenuall did the only thing he could think of in that moment. He blew out the Candle-Mans candle. The void dissipated.
Stool Guy emerged from the garage, a man in a towel peeking through the door at the action.
"Well I guess you won Jenuall. As promised, I'll tell you a shortcut. If you cross the road and go through the drive-thru, follow the road out back and it will take you safely around Cash Mountain. You'll find it a much quicker, but probably more dangerous route to Grailtopia. Also, you can keep my stool as a reward, i'm certain it will be very, very useful on your journey."

Jenuall and the gang thanked Stool Guy, who turned out to be a pretty cool dude in the end. But we all knew that really, didn't we?

A quick search for Orange turned up nothing other than bloodied chunks of meat, but surely that wasn't related to Orange, right? Assuming he must have left, they decided to keep an eye out for him on the road.

Facing the drive-thru, the group contemplated their next move.

"Do we take the dangerous shortcut? Or do we head straight for Cash Mountain?"

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Dannie Lennox
Go for it, Danmon!
Joined in 2008
Location: Peach Mountain

PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by Dannie Lennox » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:44 pm

Before first light, the travellers, having taken stool guy at his word, navigated the Drive-Thru and began the walk southwest, around Cash Mountain, and on to whatever was to follow.

The party - Jenuall, DarkRula, Quantum Name, Clarkman, Ironhide, mic and Hulohot - were weary, and the sun, having risen, was unrelenting as they made their way along the open road that cut through the vast continent, evading the mountain as it swerved west.

A brief midmorning stop to shelter from the rays and eat something only made the mood sourer, as the group realised just how depleted their inventory was (save for a heavy stool, which they'd taken turns to carry). By early afternoon they were exhausted, having not slept in some time.

"I'm exhausted," confirmed Quantum Name. "I don't even have the energy to log on to the No Context thread and talk about our heavy stool."

"Look," said mic, "there's a village up ahead. We can restock there and find a bed for the night."

And so the party stopped in the tiny trading post of Pilalgevor. It wasn't long before they'd found an inn. It wasn't a huge building, but it had a tall chimney at its east side, and an even taller clock tower on its west.

Upon entering, the group were greeted by a friendly elderly lady at the reception desk.

"Welcome to the Pilalgevor Rest Stop. What can we do for you?"

"There are seven of us," explained Clarkman. "Do you have beds for us all? We can pay."

"Let me see..." the woman replied as she moved her spectacles further down her nose to better scrutinise her bookings list. "I have a couple of double rooms... one could fit three at a push. And then two singles which, it so happens, are the cheapest rooms we have!"

"Great!" mic replied cheerily, reaching for his wallet.

"Wait," interjected Jenuall. "Why are they the cheapest?"

"Well," explained the woman, "one is a small room atop the clock tower, and one is our basement room."

"In the clock tower?" said Hulohot. "Won't we be woken by the, well, clock?"

"Oh, no, dear," said the woman. "There's no danger of that. The clock hasn't worked for a little while now. It doesn't even tick, let alone chime."

"And what about the basement?" enquired DarkRula.

"Well, it's too cold for my old bones, I grant you," advised the receptionist. "But there are extra blankets and pillows to make it feel all cosy and safe for whichever of you draws the short straw."

The group looked at one another. Though it didn't sound pleasant, they were all shattered, and none the wiser as to whether they had any other options.

"We'll stay the night."

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Dannie Lennox
Go for it, Danmon!
Joined in 2008
Location: Peach Mountain

PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by Dannie Lennox » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:45 pm

Their decisions made, the group retired early to their beds to catch up on as much sleep as possible.

Unfortunately for the majority of them, a large man and a couple of nuns were staying in the room sandwiched directly between their double and triple suites. The thin walls made for a uncomfortable and oft-interrupted night's rest.

IronHide had previously made his way warily down the old stairwell. Everything surrounding him was made of old, damp stone, and there was very little light. Eventually he came across a massive oak door in a narrow archway. It looked like it could survive anything, though it opened with ease when he turned the key.

The room inside was bare, and initially underwhelming. There wasn't much inside, though the bed was large and, as the woman had indicated, covered in extra layers.

"What's that odd noise?" IronHide wondered aloud to himself.

It took him a moment to realise that it was... silence.

Away from the bustle of his comrades, IronHide realised that for the first time in days, he was truly at peace. He immersed himself in the comfortable bed, and fell instantly, blissfully, asleep.

*

IronHide woke relatively early on the sixth day, feeling absolutely magnificent from his night of uninterrupted rest. He washed himself, got dressed, and headed back upstairs.

However, upon reaching the reception area, there was nobody to be seen. He heard a commotion outside, so followed the sound.

Bleary-eyed and in shock, the rest of the party stood in the road, staring aghast at the charred remains of the fallen clock tower.

"Oh, flipping Garth," cursed IronHide, jogging over to join the throng. The others noticed him.

"Blimey, IronHide, thank goodness you're alright," said Clarkman, visibly relieved. "We honestly wondered where you were at too when we heard the explosion. At least the six of us survived the bloody night."

"Did you... sleep through the noise?" asked Jenuall.

"I suppose so. I guess the basement is much deeper into the ground than we realised," said IronHide.

The elderly receptionist appeared, ashen-faced, and addressed the group.

"I'm so sorry for your loss," she consoled them.

"What do you think happened?" asked Hulohot.

"It'll be another terrorist attack," said the woman. "There's been lots recently. People keep saying they see hooded, cloaked figures before they happen, but the police force here is so small, they're yet to catch anyone."

"That'll be the danger that Stool Guy warned us about," surmised Quantum Name. "This is ridiculous. So that's three dead, two vanished, probably dead-"

"One vanished", said mic.

"Eh?"

"We don't know where OrangeRKN is, aye. But look!"

mic pointed at a familiar figure approaching them from down the road.

"Miss me, suckers?" the figure announced brashly, as if glowing in the morning sun.

"Somebody Else's Problem!"

The group hugged SEP in triumphant reunion.

"What happened?" asked Clarkman.

"Ended up fighting some badman, didn't I? Wasted that fool, though," replied Somebody Else's Problem.

Clarkman smiled awkwardly at SEP's bizarre choice of words, but thought nothing more of it.

"Shall we get going, lads?" asked Hulohot. "There's nothing of DarkRula to bury, and if we stay much longer who knows what'll happen to the rest of us. I don't fancy getting blown up in a chip shop or chopped up by some maniac at the pub. Let's just get out of here."

So, as the sun reached the top of the sky, they left the village of Pilalgevor, sadly without DarkRula. As they walked out of the village gates, IronHide spoke.

"Somebody Else's Problem, is that a... Barcelona shirt you're wearing?"

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Clarkman
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PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by Clarkman » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:47 pm

Previously, on STORYTELLERS

Following the Baron’s advice, the gang met the Rogue Mod at the Inn of Nood – he revealed himself to be James Radar, a survivor of the fallen Kingdom of Radar Nation.

James set the group’s path – they would have to navigate around or through Cash Mountain, heading down the Gnamer River, to the foothills of Sonmountain, where the Kingdom of Grailtopia awaited. Upon arrival, they would have to access the Mod Room with a simple password: ‘Beefburgers’.

Along their way to Cash Mountain, the group fought a fierce battle with the Stool Bloke and Slob Man – in defeat, they gifted the group with a useful but heavy stool. Then after narrowly dodging a RELIC terrorist attack, they were rejoined by the strangely changed presence of Somebody Else’s Problem.

The six survivors are approaching a critical stage in their quest. They are still no clearer about the true nature of the GRail…

-------

WELCOME TO FABULOUS CASH MOUNTAIN – a flashing neon sign greets the group. There is a faint smell of bacon in the air.

Jenuall sets down the stool with a weary sigh. “We finally made it. Now what do we do?”

“If there’s cash to be had, it’s mine. That’s all I’m saying, innit,” says Somebody Else’s Problem.

Suddenly, the group hear a great roar.

“WELCOME CONTESTANTS,” the voice says. “TO FABULOUS CASH MOUNTAIN. NOW WELCOME YOUR HOST, THE ONE AND ONLY, LIZIMBAAAAAA.”

A large, male lion springs on top of the sign, bearing its teeth. The lion is wearing a dinner jacket and sunglasses.

“The jackpot stands at 128k – who will be our first contestant.”

“That cash is mine, muthafucka,” says the Spirit of Dblock, stepping forward.

“Be careful, Somebody Else’s Problem!” says Clarkman. “We have no idea what the rules are.”

“The rules are simple,” says the lion. “Make the right choices, and you’ll bypass the mountain. With your winnings, you can purchase my very own Lionboat, which will take you down the rapids of Gnamer river, leading down to the foothills of Sonmountain.”

“How convenient,” says Hulohot.

“But lose, and you’ll be vaporised,” says the Lion.

“Let's get on with it, battyboi,” says the Spirit of Dblock. “Show me what you got.”

“You start the game with 15k, but no life.”

“Who you calling a low life?”

“You are in an Orange Room with eight doors – behind one of the doors is a key. Choose your door wisely.”

“I choose Xavi – door number 6,” says the Spirit of Dblock, heading to the door and using the key.

“You have chosen a question room! Answer the question correctly to progress. You may confer with your team. The question is: Who is Real Madrid’s leading all time goalscorer.”

“I refuse to answer that question,” says Dblock.

“Somebody Else’s Problem, you’ll get vaporised!” says Ironhide. “Just tell him the answer!”

“TIME UP,” roars the lion, whipping a buzzer-like device out the dinner jacket, and pointing it at the body of Somebody Else’s Problem. Instantly, the Spirit of Dblock is exposed.

“Muthafuuuuu….” screams the spirit in agony, before sizzling into vapour. The smell of burned bacon sears the air.

“Who will be our next,” starts the lion, but just then, an alarm sounds. “Ooooh, you know what that means contestants! It is a buddy round. Two of you must enter CASH MOUNTAIN at the same time! For the buddy round, one of you will be equipped with a Remote Control, and one of you with a Wild Card.”

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Clarkman
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PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by Clarkman » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:47 pm

“Who was that spirit, Lizzimba?” asks Hulohot. “What has happened to Somebody Else’s Problem?”

“I cannot answer your questions during the game, contestant,” purrs the lion. “We are in playtesting, and I will maul all contestants who do not willingly participate.”

“You could at least explain the rules,” says Clarkman nervously, guarding himself with the stool.

“That awful Spirit has stunk out the Orange zone, so to reach CASH MOUNTAIN, you must navigate through just six zones! Each zone has a decreasing number of doors, and behind one of those doors is a key, granting access to the next. To afford my Lionboat, you will need to win the jackpot.”

“I don’t see a way around this,” says Quantum Name, grabbing the Wild Card.

“We’ve come this far together,” says Hulohot. “I’ll buddy up and take the Remote Control.”

“Your party may follow us,” says the lion, “but contestants get the final word on all questions and tasks. Now welcome back to CASH MOUNTAIN!”

“Follow them where? I only see two doors,” says Mic.

“That's the Gold zone. We are in beta, shut up,” says the lion. “Contestants, you must choose a door each.”

With seven doors to pick from, Quantum Name chooses door one, gaining a Free Life, and Hulohot chooses door two, which contains the key!

“The perfect start! You move on to the Green Room. You have two lives, a Wild Card and a Remote Control in play. The Green Room contains six doors.”

“How long will this game last?” asks Clarkman. “It seems very luck based.”

“YOU WILL NOT QUESTION THE GAMESMASTER,” roars the lion.

“u ok hun? xx” says Ironhide.

“I’ll choose door five,” says Hulohot.

“Door five is a question room! Answer correctly or be vaporised. You must fill the blank in this headline: I’VE BEEN POSTING MY LETTERS IN THE [BLANK] FOR TWO YEARS.”

But Hulohot is smiling – he looks confident. “Dog poo box, final answer.”

“A winner is you!” roars the lion.

“Well, I’ll choose door six then,” says Quantum Name – instantly he collapses to the floor, writhing and clawing at his eyes.

“What’s happening to him?!” asks Jenuall, panicking at a distance.

“He now has AIDS of the face,” says the lion. “That has cost you your spare life. And once again, a single mistake could kill either of you.”

Quantum Name picks himself up off the floor. “I’m okay guys. That hurt like absolute lordieth though. I’ll just pick door three.”

“You found the key!” says the lion. “Survive this next zone and you’ll make it to the bonus round. The Indigo zone contains just four doors.”

“I’ll use my Wild Card,” says Quantum Name – I don’t think I can suffer like that again."

“The Wild Card allows you to look behind two doors,” explains the lion.

“I’ll look behind doors two and three please.”

“Doors two and three both contain questions – meaning the other two doors are safe! Which question door will you take?”

“Two, I guess.”

“Which footballer can be credited with this famous quote: ‘Who the strawberry float is Tony Adams?’”

Quantum Name turns nervously back to the group – they shake their heads, confused and scared.

“VAPORISED!” roars the lion, clawing the remote from buzzer from his dinner jacket once more and crisping Quantum Name on the spot.

“Nooo!” scream Jenuall, Clarkman, mic and Ironhide in unison.

“I don't think I can do this on my own guys,” says Hulohot.

“You must!” says Mic, composing himself. “We have to fight on in memory of Quantum Name!”

“I’ll choose door one then,” says Hulohot.

“You win a Skip!” says the lion. “Meaning the key is behind door four, and you’ve made it to the bonus round! For the bonus round, you must face off against my minion – a true scoundrel: Britain’s Worst Teenager.”

From behind the CASH MOUNTAIN sign, a pale, gurning child lurches forth, a Wavebird in one hand.

“What are we supposed to do?” says mic.

“The contestants must kill him,” says the lion, bearing his teeth.

“Are you serious?!” says Clarkman. “You’re sick.”

“This is his punishment for cheating in GGGC.”

“I’ll use my Skip,” says Hulohot. “I don’t think I can murder someone.”

“Very well,” says the Lion, clearly annoyed. “But you lose the bonus! Here's what you could have had: The detective powers of Rapper.”

A simple creature in a forensics coat and mask appears from behind the sign, taking the teenager’s hand and leading him away. "I are so damn sxy," Rapper says, skulking back behind the sign.

Hulohot guesses his way through the next two zones, and the team find themselves at the final zone: the Gold room - the two actual doors either side of the sign. Behind one lies CASH MOUNTAIN.

“Maybe you should use the Remote,” Mic suggests, taking a seat on the stool.

“Good idea!” says Hulohot. “I’ll use my Remote please, Lizzimba.”

“The Remote allows you to challenge the host. You get to ask me one question. You must ask me a question I cannot answer. But be warned, I am almost all knowing. If you manage to stump me, you will gain immediate passage to CASH MOUNTAIN."

The five remaining pilgrims gather around the stool and conspire in whispers. After some time, Hulohot turns back with his question.

“What’s an anagram for ‘Alien’?”

Immediately, tears spring up in the Lion’s eyes. He claws at the floor, arches his back and hisses. He turns away from the group and charges though one of the doors, mewling in anguish. Through the broken door, they can see CASH MOUNTAIN and the rapid river below.

“Did we win?” says Clarkman. "Do we get the money?"

“Who cares?” says Jenuall. “The game was stupid. And anyway, look! There’s the Lionboat on the Gnamer river. We’re nearly there! We’ve nearly made it to Grailtopia!”

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Jenuall
Member
Joined in 2008
Location: 40 light-years outside of the buttermilk nebula

PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by Jenuall » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:48 pm

Fresh from their victory over Lizimba at cash mountain the group set off to collect their prize, the famed Lionboat.

"What's so special about this boat anyway?" Asked Hulohot, "Why is this such an impressive prize that people would enter a competition where they might literally be vaporised just for a chance to win it!?"

"Good point Hulohot," mic chimed in, "the idea seems about as plausible a concept for a successful gameshow as Kilroy-Silk's Shafted"

Clarkman turned to his friends, "It is the boat that has been spoken of in the ancient legends of GRcadia since before records began, it is a rare artifact, said to have special powers and is truly a worthy prize. Also," he added after a brief pause, "Shafted is no way as bad a show as Golden Balls, now that was some real gooseberry fool right there"

"I hear it is said to allow a man to travel to any destination just by wishing it." said Jenuall, recalling his own knowledge of the legend.

"I hear it is able to speak to its owner and haul sunken treasure from the depths of the ocean", added Ironhide.

"I hear it grants one the ability to have a rational and constructive discussion with Dblock about any topic, even the moon landings or 9/11!" spoke Clarkman, the sentence coming out almost as whisper as if his own mouth could barely comprehend the audacity of the words which it was uttering.

The group paused, attempting to process this latest statement, however their silence did not last long. A loud bang in the distance shook everyone back to attention.

"What the hell was that!" mic shouted, looking toward the source of the sound. It had come from the direction of the river.

The group ran toward the location where just moments ago the Lionboat had been sitting proudly on the shores of the Gnamer river. All that was left were a few shards of wood, charred and in some cases still smoldering as if a large explosion had split the Lionboat into pieces.

"I don't understand, how can this have happened?!" cried Ironhide, looking to the rest of the group for any hope of an understanding. "The boat was fine seconds ago!"

"I can explain", the voice came from a small man, hunched under a blanket at the side of the river.

"Who are you? What happened to our boat?" mic ran up to the man, who the group could now see was soaking wet, demanding an answer to the groups latest setback.

"It is a tragedy. We are all the victims of disgusting... dangerous behaviour!" The man cried back at them, his voice conveying an anger that suggested he may storm off at any moment.

"Please explain, what happened?" Clarkman pressed the man.

"My name is N1FFF, I was here today to take part in what should have been a fun, friendly raft race. An event that could have brought joy to many people in the land." N1FFF was visibly shaking as he told the group his tale of woe, it was hard to tell if this was because he was soaked through with river water or whether his internal rage was causing the shakes. "The Lionboat was the finish line for the race, we had been having a good, clean, fun time and everyone was happy when... it happened."

"What, what happened?!" Jenuall demanded.

"We were near the finish and... another team swam over and they, they...." N1FFF stalled, struggling to get the words to come.

"Out with it man, what happened!?" Clarkman bellowed, the group were losing patience.

"They tried to capsize our raft! We told them stop but they didn't listen!" N1FFF had thrown the blanket off his back, arms held aloft, eyes gleaming with the fires of eternal injustice. "We ended up IN THE WATER! Two of our team got stuck under the raft! I even swallowed some of the water!"

The group shared a glance with one another, their non-verbal exchange quickly forming a consensus among them. "O...kay," said mic, "I mean, that sounds bad and all but y'know not exactly the end of the world right?"

"You don't understand Gnamer river is filthy! I swallowed that water and people have seen condoms in there!" N1FFF could barely contain his anger, "I have every right to be this angry and I'm going to talk to the people in charge"

"In charge of what," Hulohot interjected, "the river?"

"Whoever! The police if I have to! I don't care, it is not acceptable and it's dangerous and I'm going to get them banned!" N1FFF continued, not wishing to be derailed from his crusade.

Sensing that the group were losing control of the situation Clarkman tried to steer the conversation back on topic. "What does this have to do with the Lionboat, how can a bit of aquatic high jinks end up with an exploding boat?"

"This was not high jinks, this was a despicable act of aggression!" N1FFF seemed to be heading off again but managed to take a breath and collect himself, "You have heard that the Lionboat which was moored here is a Rare boat yes?"

"Well yes, we know it's rare - there's only one of them right?" Hulohot replied impatiently.

"No you do not understand, it is not a rare boat but a Rare boat, it was designed by the legendary Stamper brothers." N1FFF explained, "Everything designed by Rare is an impressive creation but has one significant flaw."

"Ah" said Clarkman, "I think I understand. Just like their crates, books, barrels, and well, everything, things designed by Rare are prone to explode into a damaging fireball after suffering even just a mild amount of damage!"

N1FFF nodded, "Correct. The wave caused by the vicious and unprecedented criminal attack which I suffered in the water was enough to cause the boat to explode." N1FFF lowered his head, seemingly realising that he was not the only one who had suffered on this day. "I am sorry friends, this legendary boat is no more... But that pales into insignificance compared to the hideous act of amphibious aggression which I have suffered, this nautical nightmare, this oceanic ordeal, inflicted upon me by some maritime mercenaries!"

With that it was clear that the group needed to move on, the boat was lost and so was N1FFF, he would spend the remainder of his days at the riverside, searching for someone to complain to, always ready to tell the tale of the day he got a bit wet whilst river rafting.

*

After wandering along the side of the river for some time, for what else were they to do without a boat, night fell. The team found a place to setup camp and collected themselves after their latest ordeal. Looking at one another across the firelight each member in turn felt a blow to their spirits as it dawned on them just how low their situation was and how many of their comrades had been lost on the journey so far. They had endured much on their quest but what had they to show for it? Bruises, bumps, some mild psychological scarring (thanks DBlock), and a stool that seemed to offer no benefit beyond its possible high value if sold to a member of the SDF (Stool-Bloke Defence Force). They were no closer to understanding the nature of R.E.L.I.C and the GRail still felt so far out of reach; an intangible legend, like a puff of hot air from the lips of a ghost in the shadow of a unicorns dream.

"What do we do now?" asked Clarkman, looking up to the stars as if hoping they would offer some guidance.

"Should we turn back? Has this all really been worth the losses we have suffered? What does the GRail offer us that makes this sacrifice worth it? We still don't even know for sure if the damned thing is even REAL!" Jenuall blurted, exhausted by events.

"He's right, this is all pointless!" Ironhide agreed, "None of us knew what we were getting ourselves into and over half of our number has been lost already." Despondent, Ironhide dropped to floor to mourn his friends, "Think of who we have lost; Drumstick, Darkrula, Quantum, Somebody Else's Problem, pillars of our community! Even OR is no more, he may have joined us as but refugee from the fallen lands of Sonumia but the guy could bake a mean sponge cake!"

The others kept their eyes to the floor, unsure of what to say in response to Ironhide's outpouring of grief. They all felt the same loss and yet did not know how to comfort one another.

"And Karl, poor innocent Karl," Ironhide continued his lament, "Some of us are more advanced in years and can count the blessings of a longer life if we are to be lost, but Karl was but a child!"

Clarkman chimed in, "True, what was he like 12 or something?"

"Can any of us stand to see further losses in this foolish quest?" Ironhide slumped back down and looked to his companions for a response, his tone was bleak but the group could sense that at his core Ironhide wanted a reason to continue, as they all did.

"No. We can't give up now, we haven't even reached the end of the Gnamer river yet or begun to tackle Sonmountain. We must continue." replied mic, saddened by his friends' distress.

Hulohot chimed in, "Yeah, come on. Even Lord Jawa, holder of the sacred +1 Shield of QuestAbandonment wouldn't give up this early!" Feeling emboldened Hulohot stood up to address the group. "We all saw the ancient texts before we set out, the Holy GRail is real! Would we have faced so much resistance if we weren't on to something? Friends, we must be brave and fight on! Remember we do not pursue the GRail for our own glory. We take on this task in the name of all GRcadians, to honour our fallen friends, and in the sure hope that with the power of the GRail in our hands at least one of us may survive long enough in this world to see Jawa finally reach Kakariko Village! "

Hulohot's rousing speech was met with a raucous cheer from the rest of the group, their souls restored thanks to his inspiring words (though every one of them knew in their hearts that to believe Jawa would ever make such progress in Zelda was but folly!)

"So, what is our next move then?" mic asked keenly, "The Lion said we should take the river to Sonmountain, seems like as good a plan as any."

The group agreed that following the Gnamer river was their best bet for getting back on course to retrieve the GRail before suffering any more interference from R.E.L.I.C.

*

After travelling no more than a few kilometres the river bent away from the path they were following and the team were unable to follow it directly. Deciding to follow the path rather than risk being swept away in the waters the team pressed on. Then mic suddenly stopped, "Wait! what is that..." he said ominously, pointing at a building off to their right. In the distance stood what appeared to be a house, however on further inspection they could see that whilst it may once have been an ordinary family dwelling at some point it had been grotesquely extended to include an additional structure alongside with a passageway covered by a uPVC conservatory style roof connecting the two spaces. The secondary structure had clearly been constructed by a twisted mind and appeared to be designed as a kind of a cage or prison for some unfortunate soul. "I don't like the look of this." mic voiced a concern that the rest of the group shared.

The building stood between the group and the Gnamer river, now just visible in the distance. The rising morning light revealed a large wall to the left of the building and an impassible cliff to the right, if they were to rejoin the river the group would have no choice but to find a path through the disturbing edifice that lay before them.

The group slowly approached the building and as they grew closer began to hear banging and the sound of a deep, constant, vibration coming from the extension. Someone, or some thing, had been trapped inside and was clearly trying to break free.

As the group pressed on Clarkman spotted an ageing sign hanging awkwardly on the wall of the extension building:

"Mum Bunker"

"Wait!" Clarkman suddenly spoke up, "I think I know this place, this is the dwelling of the legend known as Errkal!"

"Errkal! Truly? But how can you be sure?" Jenuall asked.

"I'm not, I mean the layout of it certainly matches the sketches which I have seen before, and look at this," Clarkman pointed to the sign, "The legends spoke of a Bunker where the Mother of Errkal was banished when she was no longer sanctioned to live in a nearby caravan!"

Whilst the rest of the group continued to debate whether or not they had really found the legendary home of Errkal, Hulohot had spotted something else: a small, weathered notebook half covered beneath a pile of blue dust outside the bunker. Hulo knelt down and retrieved the book, it was old and had clearly seen much use, it's pages well worn and showing signs of almost daily use over many years. Turning it over and looking at the title of the tome Hulohot read aloud:

"Noise Log (2016- 201..." The remaining text was indecipherable. "Guys, what do you make of this?" Hulohot called the rest of the group over to inspect his find.

"Wait, surely it can't be!" exclaimed Clarkman, once again showing himself to be the groups chief scholar of ancient lore, "That's the mythical noise log, it was written many, many years ago by Lord Jawa."

"You mean when he was young!" mic interjected with a wry smile.

Clarkman continued, "It tells of the long nights Lord Jawa spent enduring the 'Trials of Neighbour-bloke', a grueling challenge which no fellow GRcadian would ever wish to subject themselves to."

"Hold on," Jenuall interjected, "if this is Errkal's home then why is a book belonging to Lord Jawa here?"

Almost as if responding to Jenuall's words the banging from the nearby bunker suddenly ceased. In its absence the vibrations seemed to grow even louder, the group were now surrounded by a deafening buzzing noise.

"What's going on!" called Hulohot, his voice almost inaudible over the thunderous sonic assault.

"I think I've just worked out why Lord Jawa had traveled to this place," mic screamed above the buzzing, "and what that is for." mic was pointing toward what appeared to be a large projectile weapon loaded with a capsule containing a thick blue substance, it was leaning against the wall of Errkal's house.

"The fabled Blu-Tac Splattershot Jr!" Exclaimed the group in unison.

Suddenly the buzzing sound reached a crescendo and with a colossal crash a giant wasp-like creature finally penetrated the layers of Blu-Tac that had held it prisoner and burst free from the mum bunker.

I WILL DESTROY THOSE WHO HAVE KEPT ME PRISONER ALL THESE YEARS!
screamed the creature.

"But we didn't capture you, it was another of our kind!" Hulohot called out, hoping to reason with the beast.

ALL GRCADIANS WILL BE JUDGED THE SAME FOR THE ACTIONS OF YOUR ELDER!
the creature replied, showing all the tact of a riled up Liam Neeson.

"The Splattershot, it's our only hope, if we can bind the creature with Blu-Tac we may yet escape" cried mic identifying what seemed like the teams only hope.

"Wait, there is something else that may help." Ironhide shouted out, "The legends speak of Lord Jawa drawing power from his own writings, how he would gain an internal strength by simply reciting the words of his noise log to himself when faced with adversity. The Splattershot is surely useless without it!"

DYING TIME!

With the Wasp Beast bearing down upon them the team had to act fast.

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Jenuall
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PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by Jenuall » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:49 pm

mic dived for the Splattershot, snatching it into his grasp and immediately turning to let off a volley of gooey Blu-Tac in the direction of the giant Wasp beast. Seeing his friend taking on the creature single handed Ironhide opened the Noise Log to read, determined to do all he could to provide support.

As there were no further weapons with which to combat the creature in the vicinity and sensing there was little else they could do to offer support the remainder of the group sought shelter inside the bunker. There they could remain safe whilst also monitoring the battle. Though their attention was of course fully focused on the battle they each did take every effort not to touch anything within the bunker, because who knows what Errkal's Mum had been up to in there!

mic's initial shots had struck the beast on the abdomen, but this seemed to have little effect other than to enrage it further. Its antennae twitched in fury as its glistening mandibles opened to speak:

HAH, THE LAST OF YOUR KIND TO FACE ME COULD DO NOTHING BUT PESTER ME WITH THAT FEEBLE CONTRAPTION AND IT LOOKS LIKE YOU TOO ARE EQUALLY PATHETIC!


mic dived for cover as the beast swooped down, its gigantic stinger poised ready to strike. Meanwhile Ironhide had found a good vantage point from which to consult the noise log, picking a page that looked particularly well worn he read aloud:

"June 1st 2016," As Ironhide read the words on the page began to glow blue, "peace is among us within the halls of Jawa-dom. The horror that dwells beneath has been quelled, but only temporarily I fear, for the hag hath banished the madman. The younglings are still rowdy but they have yet to learn many of the wiles of their forebear and I can suffer their intrusion much more gladly!" The whole page now shone a bright, brilliant blue light that shot out of the book and toward the battle, then as quickly as the light had appeared it faded - leaving the page which had been read blank.

The words of Lord Jawa contained a power that few understood, the frustration of the downtrodden mixed with a seemingly eternal optimism was a potent combination. Responding to the recital the Blu-Tac which had struck the Wasp beast seemed to glow, as if some power within had been awoken.

"It's working!" Cried mic, dodging another thrust from the beasts stinger and letting off a further expulsion from the Splattershot, "Keep it up Ironhide!"

Ironhide gripped the log tight and flicked through the pages searching for another powerful entry:

"October 9th 2016, An eve of much sorrow I have endured once again, the hag and the madman are cast at one anothers throats once again. Harsh tongues doth lick from the pair as their seemingly eternal sparring rages night after night. In search of solace I turned to my otic insulators and waged my own wars of the imagination"

As Ironhide read this latest entry mic managed to catch the beast directly on the face with the full power of the Blu-Tac. "Haha! Taste my blue justice!" mic screamed in triumph"

The beast recoiled, the searing hot blue substance burning a hole deep into its head. It seemed dazed for a moment and the turned back toward mic and screamed:

NO! HOW HAS THIS POWER FOUND ITS WAY TO YOU? THOSE THAT AWOKE ME PROMISED YOU WOULD BE EASY FODDER!


Both Ironhide and mic paused, it seemed that it was not just chance that had set the wasp against them, was this another act of sabotage by R.E.L.I.C?

Though unprepared for the true power of the Splattershot the beast was not yet ready to give up the fight and several more rounds of battle were exchanged. mic suffering a number of blows but managing to just barely avoid death each time, Ironhide continuing to read aloud from the log to provide support to his friend.

The beast began to grow weary, sensing it did not have long to live it began to taunt our heroes:

YOU WILL NEVER REACH YOUR PRIZE! AT GRAILTOPIA YOU WILL FACE THREE IMPOSSIBLE CHALLENGES!


THE FIRST CHALLENGE, THE BREATH OF STEVE


mic fired another shot, Ironhide bellowing out support with all the gusto of Brian Blessed.

THE SECOND CHALLENGE, THE WORD OF GECKO


Ironhide nearly took a full blow of the stinger to the gut, just managing to roll away at the last second.

AND THE THIRD, THE PATH OF SCOTTICUS


"Why are you telling us this?" mic cried, failing to see why the beast would share such clues.

BECAUSE ... EVEN IF YOU DECIPHER THE CHALLENGES YOU CANNOT WIN. THE WHOLE THING ... IS RIGGED, JUST .... LIKE IT WAS .... THE LAST TIME!
the beast spluttered, clearly close to death.

mic didn't understand, what did the beast mean - what was rigged? And what was the last time? Distracted, mic did not spot the beasts last ditch attack and was forced to the ground, the impact nearly knocking him unconscious. "Ironhide, help! Quickly I need the power of the noise log now!"

Ironhide rifled through the book, struggling to find a page which had not already expired in the battle. "I can't find another entry, I've looked back to front and all that is left is a number of pages ranting about how Fallout 76 is secretly brilliant and how everyone is wrong and needs to stop ganging up on defenseless game developers!"

"Damn you Jawa, and damn you Jawa's neighbour!" mic screamed as the beast pierced him with its stinger, instantly draining all the life from his body and leaving our hero but a withered husk in the dirt. Spent the wasp beast collapsed alongside, though expired its body continued to twitch in that way that all dead wasps seem to do after you whack them with a newspaper.

"NO!" came the scream of the entire group from within the bunker, running out to see their fallen comrade. They had lost another member, but perhaps in the dying words of the Wasp they had learned something which may help them finally end their quest for the GRail.



Or alternatively it may just all have been complete nonsense! ;)

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PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by Clarkman » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:50 pm

The twists and turns of Gnamer river ease into a narrow strait. In the distance, the baby blue glow of Sonmountain. The four surviving pilgrims smile for the first time in what feels like days.

“We’ve nearly there,” Clarkman says. “The promised land.”

“Do you think R.E.L.I.C. will know we’re here?” Jenuall asks.

“They seem to have agents everywhere. They must surely be keeping track of us,” says Hulohot.

“Well,” Ironhide says, “We know from the Rogue Mod that R.E.L.I.C. are confused if we do something unstructured. They would have been expecting us to navigate Gnamer river on the Lionboat, so perhaps we’ve thrown them off by simply wading upstream.”

“Well how could we sneak into the Mod Room in an unstructured way?” says Clarkman. “And how will we even find it?”

The group debate their options as they press forwards up the river, into the foothills of Sonmountain.

“What’s that?” asks Hulohot, pointing to a small creature, wandering aimlessly by the riverbank.

“STEEEEEVE?” cries the creature, its fans whirring. “Where are you Steve?”

“Is that an Xbox 360?” asks Clarkman. "I haven't seen one of those in years."

The Xbox wanders towards the pilgrims – its red ring flashing weakly.

“Are any of you Steve? Steve sent me away for repair, and Lord Gates fixed me, but I never made it home. It's been so long - I've forgotten his User ID - I have no idea what he even looks like! I need to make it back to the Mod Room before the next gen starts.”

“Umm,” says Jenuall. “It may be too late little guy.”

“What?!” whirrs the Xbox, panicked. “But, but – Gears of War 2 must be out any day now! Steve will be waiting to play!”

“Quiet guys,” Clarkman says, whispering to the rest of the group. “This could be our ticket inside the Mod Room.”

“Of course we’ll help you little guy,” says Ironhide, sitting the Xbox down on top of the stool. “You’re safe with us.”

“Hurray!” says the Xbox. “I’ll be back online in no time! I can’t wait to see if Castle Crashers is on LIVE Arcade yet!”

In the horizon, Hulohot spots a great spire, adorned with intricate stone carvings of Pacman and a Space Invader.

“Look!” exclaims Hulohot. “There it is! As was foretold by James Radar! That must be Grailtopia!”

The group pick up pace, Ironhide leading the way, stool and Xbox in hand.

As they approach, they see the spire sits atop a grand castle. Closer, the pilgrims see two entrances, marked FEEDBACK and TRADING POST.

“I don’t see The Mod Room,” says Clarkman.

“I guess that makes sense,” says Jenuall. “It would be invisible to us. We don’t have their powers.”

“Well, I guess should split up and meet inside,” says Ironhide. “It would probably make sense for me to take the Xbox to the TRADING POST and ask around for Steve.”

“And I’ll go to FEEDBACK to check if anyone’s achieved more than me in the last year,” says Clarkman.

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PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by Clarkman » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:51 pm

“I’ll join you, Clarkman,” says Jenuall. “Let’s do this.”

The doors of FEEDBACK swing open with a rusty creak. An engulfing darkness lays ahead of the pair.

“We have to be brave,” says Clarkman. “For the good of GRcade. To honour the memory of our lost friends.”

A meek voice calls to them from the darkness. “Lost friends? We have lost yet more friends?”

As they step beyond the threshold, lights slowly trigger on – what lays ahead of them is unmistakable. FEEDBACK is a graveyard. There are hundreds, maybe thousand of headstones, stretching back as far as the eye can see.

“Is there someone in here?” calls out Jenuall. “Reveal yourself.”

“Down here,” comes the voice.

Clarkman and Jenuall look down to see a small, green lizard darting around the floor, from tombstone to tombstone. It seems to be making repairs – doing maintenance.

“Who are you?” asks Clarkman. “What are you doing?”

“I am Gecko – saviour of this place. I preserve the memories of those who we have lost. This is where we honour and remember those who are Missing In Action, and track those who change their identity.”

Clarkman and Jenuall look at the headstones more closely. Among the nearest, they recognise the names of their fallen comrades: Karl, Drumstick, OrangeRKN, Somebody Else’s Problem... Clarkman is overcome with emotion - upon seeing the grave of Gandalf, a tear comes to his eye.

“The Wasp creature foretold of a challenge,” whispers Jenuall to his partner. “The Word of Gecko – she said it would be impossible – that is was rigged.”

“Gecko,” says Clarkman. “We honour your work and give you great thanks for this most sacred place.”

“Are you saying you’d like to make a donation?!” says the Gecko, pausing for a moment and looking at the pilgrims hopefully.

“Not right now, but maybe next month,” says Jenuall, causing the Gecko to lose interest and recommence scurrying from tombstone to tombstone.

“We have come to find the GRail,” Jenuall continues. “To save the kingdom of GRcade and unite us once more.”

“Then you must pass my test – The Word of Gecko. Pass and I will appoint you both as Moderators. Only then may you enter the Mod Room where the GRail is kept.”

“Perfect! What is your test?” ask Clarkman and Jenuall in unison.

“One of your party – the one you knew as Quantum Name. You must find his one true resting place.”

“That sounds simple enough,” says Clarkman. “We’ll just look for the gravestone marked ‘Quantum Name’.”

“If only it were so easy – for your friend had quite fantastic powers. He could change his name by will. He is responsible for 90% of the Gravestones here. I could cut my work down significantly if we could just find his one true resting place.”

“This is impossible!” says Jenuall. “Just as the wasp forewarned. It would take forever to go through every name here.”

“Wait – I remember something,” says Clarkman. “Days ago, back when Karl was among us – didn’t he call Quantum Name something different?”

“You know the fallen Promised Child?” says the Gecko, scuttling up to them. “Karl was my finest lieutenant. He had a system to do the maintenance here automatically. Since Karl died, I’ve been doing this all manually. Karl held the kind of wisdom only a child can possess – he knew things by their true name!”

“Karl called Quantum Name ‘Dan’!” says Jenuall. “

“Dan!” squeaks the Gecko. “So simple! A thousand thanks! I appoint you both Moderators.”

Jenuall and Clarkman both feel a surge of power rush through them. Reaching into their pockets, they find a lock and a mallet – from the ceiling of the Graveyard, a heavenly staircase descends.

“Take these extra two Guest Passes for your friends,” says the lizard, handing two extra Locks to the pilgrims. “The Mod Room is up there – at the top of the Path of Scotticus – do you know the password?”

“Beefburgers,” the pilgrims say, smiling.

“Oh no!” says the Gecko. “That hasn’t been the password in years. Not since the Rogue Mod hacked the servers. We changed it immediately afterwards. To pass the Path of Scotticus and gain access to the Mod Room, you must know a much more ancient password. A password that may have been with you all along. But go forth! The GRail awaits you!”

“Not yet,” says Clarkman. “We need Ironhide and Hulohot to join us. Let’s go find them.”

-------

Ironhide and Hulohot knock at the doors of the Trading Post. The Xbox whirrs to itself, attempting to connect to the wifi.

“Hello? We have a delivery for Steve! Is anyone there?”

The door cracks open a notch and a strange man steps out. The man wears a bowler hat and is wrapped in a Union Flag, worn like a toga.

“I am Richard,” says the creature. “I am the guardian of Somnmountain and Lord of the Trading Post. The one you call Steve does not take kindly to being disturbed.”

“We have found his Xbox,” says Ironhide. “We must return it to him.”

“Okay then,” says Richard. “But don’t say I didn’t warn you. The Breath of Steve is a mighty test to survive.”

Richard leads the pilgrims to a dark corner of the Feedback Thread, where a hunched creature sits, refreshing an eBay listing for a PS3.

“…external hard-drive…,” the creature mumbles. As it speaks, a smell of rotten fish and eggs wafts towards them.

“Steve,” says Richard, touching the creature’s shoulder.

“I DON’T WANT NO PSPs, Fanboy,” snaps the creature, aggressively brushing off Richard’s hand.

“It’s me, Richard – I have some guests. They say they’ve found something of yours.”

“We have found an Xbox 360, Steve,” says Ironhide. “It thinks it belongs to you.”

“STEVE!” whirrs the Xbox in joy. “I am home!”

Steve looks over his shoulder at the Xbox.

“I don’t care about that any more,” he grunts, grabbing the 360 off the stool and flinging it against the wall.

The Xbox screams a sad wail and whirrs its last – the Red Rings of death fading to grey.

“How could you be so heartless?” Hulohot says.

“HEARTLESS?” roars Steve, rising to his feet. He is a giant – his arms tattooed with the Pacman and Space Invader Symbols from the spire of the castle. “I AM THE REASON YOU ARE HERE. YOU DARE TO CALL ME HEARTLESS? DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? I AM THE CREATOR OF THIS PLACE. I DID THIS OUT OF MY LOVE FOR YOU. I GAVE MY HEART TO THE FORUM, BUT IT ALL FALLS APART ANYWAY.”

Steve reaches one mighty arm out and grabs Hulohot by the neck, throwing him across to the same wall as the Xbox. He hits the wall with a hard thud and falls to the floor in a heavy heap.

Ironhide takes a step back, holding up the stool to defend himself.

“Please Steve, we love the kingdom of GRcade also! We have come to save it by finding the GRail and bringing peace to the forum.”

“PEACE?” roars Steve. “Only a fool would want peace in GRcade. In peaceful times, a forum dies. When there is peace, there is no argument. And argument is the spine of the kingdom. The nature of the community is dependent on disagreement – on different opinions. The GRail must be locked away for the forum to survive!”

“Well, R.E.L.I.C. are trying to…”

“R.E.L.I.C. work for me!” says Steve. “They keep order. They are loyal. Not like those who abandoned us. Who fill out the graveyard next door. I will keep everyone locked inside, and everything will be like it always was!”

“Ironhide!” call familiar voices from the entrance to the TRADING POST. It is Clarkman and Jenuall, beckoning to their friend. "We've found the way to the Mod Room! Come quickly."

Ironhide throws the stool at Steve’s head, knocking him back and stunning him for a moment.

“RUN!” yells Richard. “I will lock the door behind you. Save yourself!”

“But what about Hulohot,” says Ironhide. “My friend!”

Hulohot raises himself from the floor on one arm. “Go on without me, Ironhide. Save yourself, join the others. Complete the mission.”

Ironhide hesitates for a moment, then turns and runs to the door, joining Clarkman and Jenuall. With a great slam, Richard shuts the door behind them. As they turn away to face the Path of Scotticus to the Mod Room, they are left with the sounds of Hulohot’s screams.

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PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by Clarkman » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:52 pm

“Here’s your pass,” Clarkman says to Ironhide, handing over the extra Lock as they step onto The Way of Scotticus.

Immediately, the staircase begins moving automatically upwards, with the steps disappearing behind them, leaving a sheer drop back into the graveyard below.

“I guess there’s no turning back now,” says Jenuall. “The Gecko said that the password to the Mod Room was something ancient – something that had been with us all along.”

“And Steve warned that the GRail was the only thing keeping the kingdom active,” says Ironhide. “He suggested that the peace it would bring could ruin everything.”

“Look, I think we’re nearly at the top,” says Clarkman.

At the top of the escalator, the group was see a magnificent golden gate, adorned with a giant crest of arms – the familiar Pacman and Space Invader, and at the centre, a round, serious face, with an outstretched finger, pointing.

“That symbol,” says Jenuall. “I recognise it. It was in the prophesy from the bumped thread. The message which led us on our journey.”

“The Way of Scotticus,” ponders Ironhide, as they reach the gates. Through the bars they can see through to the other side – bathed in golden light, there’s a plinth in clear sight. Atop the plinth, what looks like a box, in Christmas wrapping paper. “Do you think – could it be? On the gate - could that be Captain Scotty himself? The Scotty of our ancient prayer?”

“The prayer! The prayer must be the password!” Clarkman says.

The three pilgrims hold hands and in one voice, say their prayer – remembering those who they have lost along the way:

There are no wolves among us,
No fools of gooseberry hue.
We rip in peace and heartache,
In memory of you.

So better seven than eight,
What goes on toast does stay.
To ten more years of trolling,
Let Scotty point the way.


The gates immediately swing open, without sound.

The pilgrims take a tentative step forward, into the Mod Room. There’s an eerie quiet. The room is almost empty, save for a pinboard on the far wall, and the plinth at the centre of the room.

On the pin board, the faces of the damned, with red crosses struck through them – the permanently banned members of GRcade, with reasons in small text beneath each.

“Jesus,” says Clarkman. “We really went through a big goatse phase.”

“And look!” says Ironhide. “There’s Vesp, that awful grinch.”

“Guys, I think we’re delaying the inevitable,” says Jenuall. “One of us is going to have to open that present. The GRail must be inside.”

“It must have something to do with Christmas,” says Ironhide. “Maybe the GRail guarantees you get Denster in Secret Santa!”

“Maybe it gifts you new Nintendo hardware before it automatically goes out of stock!” says Jenuall.

“If no body else is volunteering, then I will open it,” says Clarkman, stepping forwards, and hesitantly peeling back the wrapping paper.

“I’m nervous,” says Ironhide. “We’ve been through so much.”

As Clarkman lifts the lid of the package, a familiar booming voice fills the room: Yippee Ki-Yay mummy strawberry floater!

Inside the box, Clarkman finds a list of five numbers.

“Guys,” says Clarkman. “I think I know what this is. I think this is why Steve said it would kill the forum. These numbers – they’re the most important debate in the kingdom. I think these numbers at the true ranking of the Die Hard films.”

“Let’s have a look,” says Jenuall, taking the paper out of Clarkman’s hand. “Well this is clearly wrong. They’ve got the top two in the wrong order.”

“You’re an idiot,” Ironside says, looking over his shoulder. “It’s the second and third ones which are in the wrong order.”

“Don’t call me an idiot,” says Jenuall, shoving Ironhide backwards. “You’re the idiot.”

“You don’t want to mess with me,” Ironside says, grabbing fellow pilgrim by the neck and pulling him to the floor.

“Stop it, both of you!” shouts Clarkman, keeping his distance.

The two friends grapple on the floor, throwing punches and rolling around, creeping back towards the gates. Before either of them notice, they’re at the edge of the way of Scotticus, teetering.

“Be careful!” Clarkman begs, stood by the gates.

But it is too late. Jenuall and Ironhide slip over the edge, falling down to the graveyard below. Clarkman can only watch as they fall like Hans Gruber – a look of despair on both their faces.

Clarkman pulls himself away before he sees them hit the ground, and returns to the plinth, where the GRail lies crumpled on the ground.

“Steve was right,” Clarkman says to himself. “The GRail is too powerful. It would destroy us to share the one true order. I will remain here as its guardian, until such time a sixth film is released.”

THE END?

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Jenuall
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Joined in 2008
Location: 40 light-years outside of the buttermilk nebula

PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by Jenuall » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:54 pm

Alternate Ending 1:

Clarkman, Ironhide and Jenuall take a brief moment to gather themselves, the shock of losing another of their group so close to the end was another hard pill to swallow.

Looking up toward the heavenly staircase they steel themselves for what they know may be their toughest challenge yet. Clarkman gripping hard onto the lock and mallet within his pockets, as if trying to channel their power directly into himself, Ironhide briefly closes his eyes, lips moving silently as if reciting an ancient verse to lend him strength. Jenuall, the most intelligent, athletically built, and possessing of a beauty that none before or since would ever match, clenched his chiseled jaw as if to say "bring it on."

The group began their ascent. "Any thoughts on what the last challenge might involve, I'm petrified of what we might face!?" Clarkman asked, breaking the somewhat uncomfortable silence that had seemingly taken hold over the three friends.

"Hah, tis but the Path of Scotticus, an interesting name for a challenge no doubt but it holds no fear for one such as I" Jenuall responded with the confidence of a man truly without equal, "The Gecko mentioned it in connection with the password so a simple deduction indicates that must be the key to passing the test." Jenuall continued with astounding intuition, once again demonstrating his famed and unique skills at deducing simple solutions to complex problems.

"Good point Jen, I don't know what we would do without you!" Smiled Ironhide, almost in awe of his exemplary comrade.

"Fear not my friends, with me by your side we will see the GRail before the end of this day" Jenuall gave Clarkman and Ironhide a pat on the back, like a master patting his faithful pet dogs.

As the continued along the staircase they could see faded plaques on the wall, clearly put in place to commemorate great moments from the kingdoms past: "StayDead gets hay fever", "Gary Neville's Phone Number", "How much for the box?". Passing what would be the final plaque, "Towel Guy" the group reached the end of the stairs and walked out onto a small rectangular landing.

"Is this it?" Asked Clarkman looking to see if there was anything else at the top of the stairs, "A bit underwhelming after everything we have been through to get here isn't it". He was not wrong, before group stood a single, somewhat uninspiring looking wooden door. The words "Mod Room" were scratched into its surface, seemingly by means of a crude implement such as a screwdriver or perhaps a butter knife.

"Well Clarkman, sometimes things don't need to look impressive to be of value" responded Jenuall, looking down at his companion, "you of all people should know that! Also often when it comes down to it you have to accept that people don't have the time to make things as impressive as you might have wanted them to be, and that is nobody's fault - as I'm sure everyone will agree."

"Quiet! I hear something." Ironhide interjected as a shuffling noise could be heard from within the Mod Room and a small intercom built into the frame crackled to life.

"P....s...d p....e, y.. h..e th... at..s re..in..g" a muffled voice requested, the words of the speaker hard to determine through the low quality of the interface through which it was received.

"What was that supposed to be?" Clarkman asked, not understanding the voice from with the Mod Room. "I told them to upgrade the bloody software on this place years ago! As be spoke a giant glowing hammer emerged from the door and with a truly hideous act, squashed Clarkman on the spot!

"What the hell!" Cried Jenuall and Ironhide! "Clarkman!"

"Pa...sw..d ple..e, y.u h..e tw.. at..s re.ai..g" came the voice again, sounding more insistent this time.

"What do we do Jenuall, Clarkman was destroyed before our very eyes?!" Ironhide wailed, looking to his far braver and generally more impressive friend.

Before Jenuall could respond to his frail companion the hammer returned and sent Ironhide into oblivion.

The voice crackled thtough the intercom once again, this time slightly clearer, "Passw..d plea.e, you h.ve one at.mpt remai..ing".

It was a request for the Mod Room password, Jenuall had worked this out straight away, but he also knew that telling his friends would not have saved them. This was the final challenge, the Path of Scotticus and with his razor sharp intellect Jenuall had already deciphered its meaning from the moment he heard its name - there are some challenges that are tackled without others, some doors and thresholds which cannot be crossed with friends or colleagues by your side for support but which an individual must face alone. The final challenge is one which none of us can prepare for and which we must simply walk tall and enter into solo.

Jenuall closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

" strawberry float it " he whispered.

The door opened, an incredible light shone from within and Jenuall stepped inside.

Lights flashed, images bent and twisted all around Jenuall, explosions like fireworks could be seen everywhere he looked, it was big, bright and above all, impressive. Like the CGI budget of a whole phase of Marvel movies being blown all at once. A voice spoke in the darkness but its words were impossible to comprehend, each sound seeming to come at once.

No sooner had the images and voice entered then they disappeared, Jenuall found himself suddenly back in the heartland of GRcade, GRail in hand and crowds gathered cheering around him.

"HOORAY, THE GRAIL IS RETURNED!" The crowds chanted, lofting Jenuall into the air.

"But what happened to the others who set off with you?" A forumite asked.

"My fellow GRail hunters were lost on the journey, their sacrifice shall never be forgotten," Jenuall raised his voice to address the whole crowd, "Let all the people for GRcade never forget this day and the losses we suffered to return the GRail- OrangeRKN, Somebody Else's Problem, Drumstick, DarkRula, Quantum Name, Clarkman, Ironhide, Karl, mic, and Hulohot, legends all and names that shall be etched into GRcade lore for eternity. May each and every one of the RIP in peace."

The speech was incredible; touching, rousing and as perfectly pitched a piece of Oscar bait as you could ever conceive.

"But Master Jenuall, what does the GRail do, surely you must have learned this on the quest!?"

"A voice spoke to me when I crossed into the realm of the Mod Room, but though I know it passed great knowledge onto me and the keys to the mystery of the GRail were part of that, I cannot comprehend the all of what was said. Only two parts of the message is clear to me:"

The power of the GRail will only awaken in the chosen Era


"I sense this tells of a further quest required to unlock the GRails secrets and true potential. A quest that I shall not shirk the responsibility of" Jenuall continued.

"What was the second part of the message that you understood Master, what did that tell?"

"The second part was a warning, and why we will need some time to prepare for the quest:"

IT'S DANGEROUS TO GO ALONE!

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Ironhide
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Joined in 2008
Location: Autobot City

PostRe: The Quest for the Holy GRail
by Ironhide » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:55 pm

Alternate Ending 2:

Our three intrepid adventurers hurriedly climb the staircase leading to the Mod Room and are confronted by a huge steel door with a small electronic alphanumeric keypad mounted on the wall next to it.

"I guess we need to enter the password" mused Jenuall, "beefburgers?" said Ironhide, unaware of the fact that the password ha long been changed. "No" replied Clarkman, "the gecko said we needed to use a far older password to get in here". "he said it was something we would know" added Jenuall.

Minutes passed as the three wracked their brains trying to think of what the gecko might have changed the password to, when in eerily perfect unison, the trio uttered the words "Wally John Blacks", before bursting into laughter at the memory of the antics of the legendary Denster. Clarkman was the first to the keypad and began to type in the ancient phrase with a grin on his face.

"INCORRECT PASSWORD" boomed an unnecessarily loud voice, "sorry, had the capslock on" said a slightly embarrassed Clarkman as he re-entered the password. "ACCESS GRANTED" came the response as the vault door rumbled open and the trio stepped inside.

The mod room was an interesting sight indeed, the walls were covered in posters of anime schoolgirls, a bank of now broken monitors sat upon a large wooden desk and there were several display cases full of videogame memorabilia and figurines of yet more anime schoolgirls. "looks like Staydead's bedroom" muttered Ironhide under his breath.

In the far end of the room however, the decor was far different, ancient looking tapestries were hung either side of an equally ancient looking altar upon which stood a strangely familiar looking object.

The three adventurers approached the altar to get a closer look at what must surely be the object their long and arduous journey had led them to.

"What the actual strawberry float?" shouted a clearly angry Jenuall, "thats what we've literally been killing ourselves to find?" added a weary Ironhide Clarkman began to chuckle which gradually became maniacal laughter as he saw the object before him... Upon the pedestal stood a pint glass engraved with the words "Larger, as in the drink Larger".

The End.

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