On the way back through Meltdown Jungle, I made sure to avoid the sort of creature that had attacked me before.
That wasn’t too difficult for the most part. At one point, I began to hear a faint beat.
ba-dum ba-dum ba-dum
But I knew well enough to avoid the area. Carefully made my way around the source of the beat, circumventing the monster entirely.
It made my heart race a bit, but also made for a much easier journey.
Fighting monsters for XP was important, no doubt. But some monsters were easier to kill than others, and the XP reward wasn’t worth dealing with that…
I was satisfied with having avoided the monster. Nearly made it out of the jungle, and felt like I was safe when danger.
That’s when it happened.
I was waiting for a crazy animal to attack — if I couldn’t see it, at least I figured it’d be something I could hear.
No such luck.
My foot stepped on what I assumed to be solid ground. But when I tried pulling the foot back up, it sank a little deeper. My heart sank with it.
Fuck, I thought. I looked down.
It wasn’t an incredibly quick motion, but still I could feel the way the ground was engulfing my foot, pulling it down slowly.
Never ran into quicksand in the real world. It’d seemed so dumb, the way I’d thought so much about quicksand as a kid. In my defense, didn’t a lot of kids think about quicksand?
But you never ran into it in the real world — all the stuff they tell you about quicksand, it’s just to keep you interested. Because it’s fun. Useless information.
Of course, the information wasn’t useless here. That was the thing.
I took in slow, deep breaths. In fact, the breaths were slower than the sand, which was pulling me in.
It wasn’t really sand, though, it was dirt. Did that make it a sinkhole?
I had no idea, but I hoped the same rule applied: the more you moved, the more quickly the ground would suck you in. No way to get out, at a certain point.
So that meant no thrashing.
As calmly and coolly as I could, I grabbed onto a vine that was hanging from one of the tall trees above. It’d be a way to keep at least my head above water, if nothing else.
Kept my free foot firmly planted on solid ground — last thing I needed was both feet getting caught in the earth.
With the free foot planted firmly on the ground, I tried pulling on the vine to get out.
The foot didn’t budge. It didn’t sink any worse, but it didn’t budge either. Everything below my ankle was trapped.
I kept one hand held firmly on the vine. Then arched my back, slowly letting my hand slide down the vine. Carefully, I set my butt down on firm ground.
Making sure not to wiggle the foot, I still tried to carefully pull it out.
No dice. My calf began sinking.
The sword at my side gave me a stupid idea.
Gave me a very stupid idea.
After all, one of the main ways you solved problems in this game was by fighting, right? Wasn’t that the conflict resolution system you could always count on?
So, while being all too well aware as to the ways it could go wrong, I pulled my sword out of its scabbard.
Raised the sword in the air, then brought it down onto the area of the dirt that had my leg.
The ground didn’t let go of my leg, and in fact my entire calf had been submerged.
Had to be careful, but also had to work fast.
I tried pulling the sword out, but it was to no avail. It started sinking again, too.
Twisted the sword in the ground, but that didn’t take and HP off of it.
Had to work even faster, now.
Sword was sinking. Couldn’t lose that. No sword would put me at a major disadvantage in every fight, until I could get a new one.
Heart began to race.
I pulled myself up with the vine. Went a little too quickly, put some pressure on the submerged leg.
It was past my knee.
Raised the fist with the gauntlet had and smashed it into the ground.
That was a decent HP take, but hitting with the dragon gauntlet was also one of my best moves.
The gauntlet hand began to sink.
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
I raised my non-gauntlet hand.
Let the thorns grow.
Too much pressure on the ground. My groin was getting submerged — a highly unpleasant sensation.
I thorn punched the ground.
FUCK! The thought roared through my head.
That essentially put me out of moves, unless I could get my lightning eyes to work.
I concentrated on the energy in my head, imagined it channeling through my eyes.
Heart was racing.
What caused my lightning eyes to work? Why couldn’t they be used on command, like my other powers?
Was hip deep in the ground at this point.
It only had one HP point.
Only had one goddamn point, and I was out of moves.
I took a deep breath, ground rising — had to do something.
I smashed my head into the ground.
For a few seconds, the ground sucked me in. That’s when I knew I was dead, that I’d lost, that I had to go back to the temple.
But much to my surprise, I didn’t die.
Couldn’t see the ground’s updated HP, but it stopped moving. And when I pulled my head away, I got it unstuck.
The green letters floated above the ground, which I’d defeated. An odd thing, defeating the ground.
My sword came out of the ground, as did the lower half of my body.
Took me about five minutes to dig myself out.
I brushed off and went on my way.
With only 10% HP left, I had to be very careful. Luckily, that was the last monster to try and attack me on the way back to the wall.