Jonathan's Numenera Game

Giving Up is (Not) an Option

Leanna returns to the crossroads and walks down the the dim path leading off into the distance. As she takes her first step, something deep inside tells her that the path is known as the Path of Shadow and Fear, and after a few more steps, she is greeted by her first vision. The vision shows Delin, Ignus, Lloyd, and Headmaster Bassam in the labyrinth of pipes deep underneath Jyrek, having a heated argument with the Nagaian Matron, Devola. Although Leanna cannot understand their conversation, the usually calm and calculating matron appears uncharacteristically upset at the party. It quickly becomes obvious that negotiations have broken down, and as Devola rears up and sends her tentacles flying towards the party like spears, the vision ends, leaving their fate unclear. Leanna steps through the vision to continue further down the path, and a sharp sense of loss erupts from deep inside her.

The next vision shows the party deep inside an ancient cavern. It is unclear how far underground they are, but what is evident is the fact that the interior of the cave is not natural. Instead of rough and dark, the rock walls are a dull kaleidoscope of various colors, swirling around and flowing together like syrup. As the four make their way deeper into the cavern, Leanna notices that each of them appears to be incredibly fatigued, Bassam in particular seems to have taken their travels particularly hard, and has his arm over Delin for support. A supernatural darkness in the cave surrounds them, dimming the radius of their light sources to a paltry few inches, and forcing them to feel their way through the twisted and swirling cave. Although they have no choice but to continue, it is unclear whether or not they will live to see the cavern’s end. Although she desperately wishes to help them, Leanna understands that the vision is simply that. a glimpse into what may be, and steps through it, feeling her grief grow and stick in her throat.

As the third vision displays itself before Leanna, the first thing she notices is that only Delin, Ignus, and Lloyd are present. Whether Bassam perished during their travels or is simply not visible is unclear, but all that Leanna sees is the three of them around a small campfire in a dense, dark forest. Delin and Ignus are sleeping, propped up with their backs against a large, purple tree, and Lloyd’s tiredness is visible as he solemnly keeps watch over the other two. His eyes dart back and forth, trying to take in even the smallest change around him, and Leanna notices that he is not simply watching for predators who may stumble across their campsite. They are being hunted by an unknown enemy, one evidently so strong that it requires Lloyd to push himself to the edge of exhaustion to protect the others two. Suddenly, an arrow flies out of the darkness, and Lloyd vanishes in a burst of lightning, reappearing next to Delin an instant later with the arrow firmly in his grasp. Delin and Ignus awaken instantly, and another battle begins as yet more arrows fly out from behind the trees. Leanna chooses not to watch the end of the vision, instead stepping forward and trying to keep the sadness inside from overwhelming her.

A fourth vision shows Delin, Ignus, and Lloyd standing resolutely on top of a fortress with tall, thick metal walls, its smooth surface broken every few feet by a streak of red synth. They are joined by other adventurers and warriors from far and wide, each wielding a weapon of some kind, Along the horizon, the enemy forces charges towards the fortress, seemingly unconcerned for their own safety. Each of them humanoid in shape, but easily dwarfing an average man, with heavy plate armor covering every inch of their bodies and large metallic cylinders belching green fire in their arms. The armor around their spines bulges outward, as if their backs were warped and bloated, and Leanna instinctively touches her back where the parasitic creature she carried with her ought to be. As the armored men quickly close with the fortress walls, a hail of projectiles, bolts of lightning, and blazing hot fireballs explode out from the fortress to meet them, and the ground underneath their feet rises up, causing many to lose their footing. Still the enemy continues advancing over the bodies of their fallen, and as green fire erupts from their weapons and strikes the walls, sections of it begin to melt away. Several of the enemy fighters launch themselves off or the ground and onto the walls, meeting the adventurers stationed there head-on, and as more and more of them follow, the party soon finds themselves struggling to hold back the crashing tide of enemies. Leanna continues onwards, desperately hoping for the party’s victory, but somehow knowing deep inside what the mural at the end of the path would show her.

The final mural confirmed Leanna’s worst fears, as it showed the bodies of Delin, Ignus, and Lloyd, as well as dozens of other adventurers, being crushed underneath the heavy metal boots of the enemy fighters. Their limbs twisted, skulls cracked open, spines bent backwards, each member of the party had been mangled and dismembered in a truly gruesome fashion. Unflinchingly, the enemy continued onward towards a new battle, and a new victory, and as the Leanna stuck her arm through the mural, she was surprised to see that when she pulled it back, everything above the elbow had simply vanished. Although her arm returned a few seconds later, she already knew that she could not accept what the mural had shown her, and turned back yet again towards the crossroads.

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