GaMe Week #14 xking595x - Tales of an Annoying Quest-Giver - KillerRabbitsFTW Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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GaMe Week #14 xking595x - Tales of an Annoying Quest-Giver

Okay, I'll be the first to admit that my entry is absurdly long. But I just got so into it, and I got kinda carried away. I should also tell you that xking595x is NOT a homicidal jerk who gives adventurers stupid quests. I just took a little artistic liberty with this. Enjoy!

 

            As the sun steadily rose into the sky, the ruined city stood eerily still. The fallen buildings and wrecked cars meshed with the red spikes from Hell protruding from the earth. A large, lone figure walked stoically through the dust-ridden streets. It was War, the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

            For a man with the title ‘Horseman’, I sure spend a lot of time walking. So thought War as he trudged bitterly through the dead city.

            At that moment, a group of undead crawled out of several nearby cars surrounding War. Bah! I’ve had enough of these things! War put his hand on the hilt of his sword, ready to fight, when suddenly-

            Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

            In a few short seconds, the undead hordes erupted in a splatter of blood and gore. War suddenly found himself surrounded by the corpses of the- well, corpses. He turned to see who had made such short work of the beasts and found himself facing an old soldier armed to the teeth with guns. This soldier had long white hair and a bushy white mustache. He wore a gray bandana and had an eye patch over his left eye.

            “Welcome to our little patch of paradise.” the soldier said gruffly. “What business do you have here?”

            “I received a message telling me that I could find an ally here to help me in my battle against Heaven and Hell.” War answered.

            “That message was from my employer. Follow me.”

            The old soldier walked off towards a large, dark castle in the distance. War followed behind, obediently.

            “So who is your employer? What is he doing here, in the fallen Kingdom of Man?” War asked.

            “He calls himself the X-King, and he is a very powerful overlord who spends his time recruiting video game heroes such as yourself. There was a real estate issue while he was looking for a place to build his giant fortress of doom, so he built it right here, in the forgettable post-apocalyptic setting of Darksiders. So far, no one has objected.”

            “Fair enough. But I’m not exactly what you would call a video game hero.” said War. “I always considered myself sort of an anti-hero.”

            “Anti-hero, huh? Have you considered that maybe you are a hero- but that you’re just a really unlikable hero?”

            “I… what?” War muttered, confused.

            “Look, I’ve met a lot of protagonists passing through here, and after a while I’ve started to notice a lot of tropes. What are you? You’re a large, violent man who fights giant supernatural entities. It’s almost as if you’re trying to imitate the style of a certain Ghost of Sparta. What else do you do? You run around in dungeons and use a boomerang, kind of like that kid with the weird green hat. Is that a giant sword on you’re back? I can list ten characters off the top of my head that carry around giant swords on their backs. Look, I’m sorry if I’m hurting your pride here, War. But you’ve just become so routine.”

            War looked down at the ground. He was feeling a strange, painful feeling in his chest. What emotion was this? Rage? No, it wasn’t rage. Was it brooding? No, it wasn’t brooding either. But what else could it be? Those were the only two emotions that War knew!

            “Well, here we are.” said Snake- I mean, the soldier.

            War looked up. He stood before a fortress that must have been twice as large as the entire city. The tower had been painted various shades of black, white, and red, which gave it a sort of angsty teen-rock vibe. War now understood why the fortress had to be built in area populated only by dead people. Had it been built within 100 miles of any living person, a homeowner’s association would have foreclosed it.

            “Just walk along the red carpet and it’ll lead you to the throne room.” the soldier instructed.

            War nodded, then kicked the large oak doors open, as he did with all large doors. He walked into the fortress, and was halfway through the main corridor when he heard the old man mutter “God help you” before the oak doors slid shut abruptly, sending a loud echo through the room.

            War soon made it to the throne room, where he saw the X-King sitting upon a large, extravagant throne. The king’s eyes and hair were covered by a black helm with a red X marked across the forehead. He wore a fancy black tunic that was fitted tightly at the torso to show off his manly chest and abs. On his shoulder sat an orange squirrel with a cigar in its mouth, and at the side of the throne was a huge, jet-black shotgun adorned with white skulls.

            A man in black armor that looked like a space marine stood in front of the throne, facing the X-King. The king looked down on the man with a bored expression on his face. The man kept rambling on about something called a “reaper” until the X-King cut him off, saying “Listen, Commander. I understand why you’re so popular and respected, but whenever I spend time with you I’m bored out of my mind. You want to talk about politics? Try conversing with my shotgun.”

            The king lifted his weapon off the floor and pointed it at the Commander. Suddenly, a dialogue wheel appeared between the gun and the Commander. It had three choices on it:

1) Do what you know is right, Shotgun!

2) You don’t really want to talk, do you Shotgun?

3) Hello, Shotgun. Meet Mr. Grenade Launcher!

            The Commander chose the third option, pulled out a grenade launcher, and fired it at the X-King. However, it landed right inside the barrel of the king’s shotgun. X-King fired his weapon, sending the Commander’s own grenade back at him. The Commander exploded in a glorious display of lasers and gore.

            The X-King placed his weapon back on the ground. “Now that was a satisfying end to the Commander’s story!” The squirrel on the king’s shoulder let out a bad-tempered chirp. Then, as if in response, the king added, “Well, it was for me anyway”.

            X-King noticed War in the room and said, “Oh, are you the next one? Great! Come forward and tell me what your heart desires”.

            A bit uncomfortable, War approached X-King and said; “The message told me that you could assist me in my quest to restore balance between good and evil”.

            “Well, if you prove yourself to be worthy in my eyes, then sure. I’ll help you win all the ideological battles you want. But be warned: you will have to act as my errand boy for a long time and do a lot of quests that serve no real purpose.”

            “I’m pretty accustomed to that sort of thing.”

            “I’m sure you are. All right. You’re first quest is to find the demonic merchant named Vulgrim, who is wandering around somewhere east of here. Tell him that you’re looking for an item that can ‘foretell the end times’. Make sure you use those exact words, because it’s a code. He’ll sell you a package without telling you what’s inside. Bring that package to me.”

            So War set off on a long, difficult journey through the wasteland. Many demonic hordes attacked him as he searched for Vulgrim, and he had to fight hundreds of the undead. When he finally found Vulgrim, things went as the X-King said they would, although War had to pay an outrageous fee for the package. Battle-worn and weary, War returned to X-King’s throne room with the package in his hands.

            When War entered the room, a man dressed in a white outfit stood before the king. X-King sat on the throne, reading a long scroll. “You’ve done some pretty impressive things, Assassin. Not only are you adept at climbing over buildings and blending in with crowds, but you are also a shrewd real estate investor. I could really use someone like you around here.”

            The X-King lowered the scroll, smiling. But as soon as he got a clear look at the Assassin in front of him, he frowned. “You aren’t the same assassin that was here last time. Where is that guy?”

            The Assassin answered, “You’re referring to my predecessor. He died a long time ago.”

            “What is this crap?” the king yelled, enraged. “You can’t replace that guy! I’m not hiring some womanizer-assassin with an Italian accent; I want a cold-blooded killer! It doesn’t matter if you have two hidden blades. You’ll never be half as cool as the old guy.”

X-King then let out a whistle that sounded a lot like a bird chirping. Immediately after, the old soldier with the eye patch fell from the ceiling and stabbed the Assassin in the abdomen. He then flung the Assassin’s corpse over his shoulder and walked out of the room without a word.

The X-King leaned over in his throne and said, “Well, it looks like this assassin…” (He then quickly donned a pair of sunglasses) “…just got desynchronized”. He sat there for a moment, smiling to himself, then put his sunglasses away and motioned for War to come forward.

            War walked over to the throne and laid the package at the king’s feet. X-King unwrapped it and pulled out a large, expensive-looking cigar. The squirrel on his shoulder chirped with delight. “Great work, War. I don’t know how much longer we could’ve held out without these.” He held out one of the cigars for War to take. “You want to try one out?” War held out his hand to take it, but X-King yanked it back and said, “Well, you can’t. We’re saving it for a special occasion. Now on to you’re next quest: go into the main corridor of this castle and Snake will give you the info.”

            In the main corridor, War found several large piles of crystals and wires. The old soldier named Snake stood in the middle of it all, holding what looked like a large textbook. “These are the pieces of a very big, heavy, and expensive chandelier that the king wants to be hung in this corridor.” Snake said. “You’re uh… ‘quest’ is to put it together and hang it up.”

            “Is this a joke?” War asked, gritting his teeth. “Why on earth are you having a Horseman of the Apocalypse hang up a chandelier?”

            “Look, you have super strength.” Snake answered calmly. “And this chandelier is super heavy. Here are the instructions.” Snake thrust the textbook into War’s arms. “Get to work.”

            It took War three hours to make sense of the instructions, four hours to put together the pieces of the chandelier, and about two more hours to assemble them all on the ceiling of the main corridor. When War finally completed this task, X-King strode into the room and admired the chandelier.

            “It looks fantastic!” the king exclaimed. “It’s so big! And it’s so expensive!” X-King pulled out his shotgun and fired at the chain that held the chandelier. It fell to the floor with an ear-shattering crash that seemed to shake the entire castle. “…and it’s so heavy! It’s perfect!”

            X-King turned towards War, who stared at the shattered pieces of the chandelier on the floor, dumbfounded. “I just needed to see how well it would crash on the floor. And it crashed very well.” X-King said. “But now I need you to hang it up again. So I guess that’ll be your third quest.”

            War glared at the king, attempting to communicate all the rage that filled his mind. He contorted his face into the most horrible scowl he could muster.

            “Come on…” X-King said. He then put both his hands on War’s face and pushed it upward in an attempt to create something that resembled a smile. The tension in War’s face lessened. This whole situation felt so alien to him. Usually, whenever he scowled at someone, they would scowl back at him in kind; this would usually culminate in a scowling contest that sometimes went on for hours until one of them got tired and withdrew. At no point in his immortal life had War ever had anyone try to make him smile. That was just silly.

            In this state of confusion, War spent another eight hours putting up the chandelier just as it had been before. He then returned to the throne room, where once again X-King had a video game protagonist standing before the throne. It was a large, muscular man wearing a dark black cape and a mask with two points on the top of the head.

            “Believe me, Dark Knight, I’m a huge fan of your exploits,” the king said. “But your recent activity has left me sorely disappointed. So you will not be leaving my castle.”

            “So you’re going to kill me, like all those other heroes?” the Dark Knight asked, his tone harsh.

            “No! I’m not going to kill you! What kind of a fan would I be if I did that?” X-King said, indignant. “I’m just going to lock you in my dungeon indefinitely so you can’t disappoint me anymore.” X-King pulled a lever by his throne. “Try rising from this, Dark Knight!”

            In a fraction of a second, the floor under the Dark Knight’s feet split open, making him through a trap door into a dark void. The trapdoor closed as quickly as it had opened, and the Dark Knight was gone.

            “Well War, it’s time for your final quest. I have a dungeon for you to explore.”

            That grabbed War’s attention. Finally! A quest that he could get excited about!

            “Due north of here, in the Charred Plains, there’s an abandoned mansion with a large, shiny emerald hidden in the basement. I need you to bring it to me.”

            “What is the significance of this emerald?”

            “Don’t worry about it. Just make sure you avoid the Groaner. It’s a huge, green monster that cannot be killed by conventional means. So don’t try to fight it. Just go in, grab the emerald, and bring it back.”

            “Are you sure? Usually whenever I’m about to leave a dungeon I kill the giant monster inside.”

            “Didn’t you hear what I just said? You can’t kill the Groaner by conventional means. That huge sword on your back qualifies as conventional means.”

            “But what if I find an item in the dungeon that allows me to defeat-”

            “It. Cannot. Be killed. By. Conventional. Means. Now go.”

            And he did go. War journeyed to the abandoned mansion, which proved to be a fairly stereotypical haunted mansion- filled with bats, howling wolves, and ghosts. Several stained glass windows tinted the inside of the house green, which made it a bit more interesting, but not by much. War had to spend several hours exploring an ugly series of tunnels underneath the mansion, where he could hear the Groaner snoring. Since he had been forbidden from attacking the Groaner, War simply snuck into a room, grabbed the emerald, and snuck out without waking the Groaner. There was no boss battle, and no climatic finish. The dungeon was fairly disappointing overall.

            When War returned to X-King’s castle, Snake stopped him at the main corridor. “The X-King is having a particularly tense moment with another video game protagonist. He would prefer to have you wait right here for the moment.” Snake then closed the double-doors, leaving War alone in the corridor.

            A particularly tense moment? War thought. I saw the king kill a space commander with his own grenade and assassinate an assassin. What would he call those? Mildly tense moments?

            But War decided not to pry into matters that did not concern him, and waited patiently outside the throne room. After a bit of waiting, he thought he heard a distant roar. War thought nothing of it. Most likely it was an angry Hellhound in the city. A while later, he heard the roar a second time, only louder. Once again, War thought nothing of it. Causing unpleasant noise is common Hellhound behavior, for they are notoriously inconsiderate creatures. War allowed himself to daydream, and thought back to his childhood on the open pastures of Limbo. He remembered running over the hills with Ruin and the other Ponies of the Apocalypse that his family had domesticated. He remembered his father telling war stories to him and his brothers on their camping trips in the Forest of Skulls. And most longingly, he remembered brushing Ruin’s fiery mane up on their little house on the Prairie of Judgment.

            In an instant, the large oak doors at the other end of the corridor flew off their hinges as the Groaner, a huge scaly green monster with enormous, slender arms and eyes that glowed like fire, came crashing into the castle. It let out a long, gut-wrenching groan that seemed to reverberate off the walls, and then it said, “Why did you take it from me? The emerald… my precious emerald…”

            Its tiny black eyes scanned over the room until they found War, then it let out a piercing screech and bounded across the corridor towards him. War grabbed the hilt of his sword, ready to take on the beast.

            “Unconventional means, War. You have to use unconventional means.” Said the X-King, who had suddenly appeared behind War. When the Groaner was halfway across the corridor, X-King pointed his shotgun towards the ceiling and shot the chain that held up the heavy chandelier that War had painstakingly hung up. Just as it had before, the chandelier fell and filled the castle with a deafening crash. Only this time the Groaner’s cry of pain was added to the sound of the crash, for the chandelier landed on the monster’s head. The sound died out and the Groaner lay still on the floor of the main corridor.

            The X-King stepped forward and put his foot on the monster’s mangled corpse. In that pose, he pulled out a cigar (one of the cigars War had trekked across the wasteland to find), lit it, and smoked over his fallen enemy.

            War stood staring at the king, perplexed. “You had me do all these ridiculous quests so that you could kill the Groaner and smoke over its corpse?”

            “That’s right,” the king answered. “And I must say, you’ve done a fairly commendable job.”

            War pulled out the Groaner’s emerald. “Why did you have me steal this?” he asked. “Why did he want it back so badly?”

            “I don’t know,” the king answered. “Apparently the Groaner’s father gave it to him while he was on his deathbed. The point of having you steal it was to lure the Groaner into the castle, where I could smash it with the chandelier.”

            “Right. So how did you know the chandelier would work, anyway?”

            “I didn’t, honestly. I just knew that dropping chandeliers on monsters usually kills them. It’s worked all the other times I’ve done it.”

            War was silent for a moment, and then said, “So after all of this, have I proven myself worthy in your eyes?”

            “Oh, well about that…” the king said, sounding a bit guilty. “This is a bit awkward, but I’ve already given my favor to the Ghost of Sparta. And I can’t give my favor to two large men with anger-management problems. It would offset the balance of the thing.”

            X-King turned to face him. “But don’t let that get you down,” he said. “While he was here, the Ghost gave me this wonderful severed head as a gift. To show there are no hard feelings between us, I’ll let you have it. Think fast!

            The X-King threw the head of Medusa across the room, with its face facing War. As he looked upon Medusa’s face, War’s entire body became stone. He stood there, unmoving, and Medusa’s head landed in his outstretched arms.

            X-King walked over to the statue that was once War, carefully placed a cloth over Medusa’s head, and slung his arm across the shoulder of the statue. “Hey, Snake!” he yelled. “Brian Fargo was right! It looks like War…” (he slipped his hand into his pocket) “…never changes- Crap! I don’t have my sunglasses!”

            The king put his hand over his face, bemoaning his failure in what should have been the perfect one-liner. He stood there for a moment, ashamed. Then he stormed out of the room, taking a moment to look back and yell, “Snake, call that monster-stuffing service and have them make the Groaner’s corpse into a trophy for me.”

            X-King thought for a moment more, then yelled, “Also call the sculptor. Have him sculpt War’s remains into a statue of Kratos. We’ll send it to him as a birthday present.” Then he strode out of the room, his black cape flapping behind him.

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