January 13, 2023 at 11:14 am #6373
An immersive AI-assisted novel with links & AI-generated images
(no flood – quality content & limit of 4-5 pics per comment)
January 23, 2023 at 1:27 pm #6451
The progress on the quest in the Land of the Quirks was too tantalizing; Xavier made himself a quick sandwich and jumped back on it during his lunch break.
The jungle had an oppressing quality… Maybe it has to do with the shrieks of the apes tearing the silence apart.
It was time for a slight adjustment of his avatar.
Xavimunk opened his bag of tricks, something that the wise owl had suggested he looked into. Few items from the AIorium Emporium had been supplied. They tended to shift and disappear if you didn’t focus, but his intention was set on the task at hand. At the bottom of the bag, there was a small vial with a golden liquid with a tag written in ornate handwriting “MJ remix: for when words elude and shapes confuse at your own peril”.
He gulped the potion without thinking too much. He felt himself shrink, and his arms elongate a little. There, he thought. Imp-munk’s more suited to the mission. Hope the effects will be temporary…
As Xavier mustered the courage to enter through the front gate, monkeys started to become silent. He couldn’t say if it was an ominous sign, or maybe an effect of his adaptation. The temple’s light inside was gorgeous, but nothing seemed to be there.
He gestured around, to make the menu appear. He looked again at the instructions on his screen overlay:
As for possible characters to engage, you may come across a sly fox who claims to know the location of the fruit but will only reveal it in exchange for a favor, or a brave adventurer who has been searching for the Golden Banana for years and may be willing to team up with you.
Suddenly a loud monkey honking noise came from outside, distracting him.
What the?… Had to be one of Zara’s remixes. He saw the three dots bleeping on the screen.
Here’s the Banana bus, hope it helps! Envoy! bugger Enjoy!
Suddenly, as the Banana bus parked in front of the Temple, a horde of Italien speaking tourists started to flock in and snap pictures around. The monkeys didn’t know what to do and seemed to build growing and noisy interest in their assortiment of colorful shoes, flip-flops, boots and all.
Focus, thought Xavimunk… What did the wise owl say? Look for a guide…
Only the huge colorful bus seemed to take the space now… But wait… what if?
He walked to the parking spot under the shades of the huge banyan tree next to the temple’s entrance, under which the bus driver had parked it. The driver was still there, napping under a newspaper, his legs on the wheel.
“Whatcha lookin’ at?” he said chewing his gum loudly. “Never seen a fox drive a banana bus before?”
Xavier smiled. “Any chance you can guide me to the location of the Golden Banana?”
“For a price… maybe.” The fox had jumped closely and was considering the strange avatar from head to toe.
“Ain’t no usual stuff that got you into this? Got any left? That would be a nice price.”
“As it happens…” Xavier smiled.
The quest seemed back on track. Xavier looked at the time. Blimmey! already late again. And I promised Brytta to get some Chinese snacks for dinner.January 23, 2023 at 4:14 pm #6453
Each group of people sharing the jeeps spent some time cleaning the jeeps from the sand, outside and inside. While cleaning the hood, Youssef noted that the storm had cleaned the eagles droppings. Soon, the young intern told them, avoiding their eyes, that the boss needed her to plan the shooting with the Lama. She said Kyle would take her place.
“Phew, the yak I shared the yurt with yesterday smelled better,” he said to the guys when he arrived.
Soon enough, Miss Tartiflate was going from jeep to jeep, her fiery hair half tied in a bun on top of her head, hurrying people to move faster as they needed to catch the shaman before he got away again. She carried her orange backpack at all time, as if she feared someone would steal its content. Rumour had it that it was THE NOTEBOOK where she wrote the blog entries in advance.
“No need to waste more time! We’ll have breakfast at the Oasis!” she shouted as she walked toward Youssef’s jeep. When she spotted him, she left her right index finger as if she just remembered something and turned the other way.
“Dunno what you did to her, but it seems Miss Yeti is avoiding you,” said Kyle with a wry smile.
Youssef grunted. Yeti was the nickname given to Miss Tartiflate by one of her former lover during a trip to Himalaya. First an affectionate nickname based on her first name, Henrietty, it soon started to spread among the production team when the love affair turned sour. It sticked and became widespread in the milieu. Everybody knew, but nobody ever dared say it to her face.
Youssef knew it wouldn’t last. He had heard that there was wifi at the oasis. He took a snack in his own backpack to quiet his stomach.
It took them two hours to arrive as sand dunes had moved on the trail during the storm. Kyle had talked most of the time, boring them to death with detailed accounts of his life back in Boston. He didn’t seem to notice that nobody cared about his love rejection stories or his tips to talk to women.
They parked outside the oasis among buses and vans. Kyle was following Youssef everywhere as if they were friends. Despite his unending flow of words, the guy managed to be funny.
Miss Tartiflate seemed unusually nervous, pulling on a strand of her orange hair and pushing back her glasses up her nose every two minutes. She was bossing everyone around to take the cameras and the lighting gear to the market where the shaman was apparently performing a rain dance. She didn’t want to miss it. When everybody was ready, she came right to Youssef. When she pushed back her glasses on her nose, he noticed her fingers were the colour of her hair. Her mouth was twitching nervously. She told him to find the wifi and restore THE BLOG or he could find another job.
“Phew! said Kyle. I don’t want to be near you when that happens.” He waved and left and joined the rest of the team.
Youssef smiled, happy to be alone at last, he took his backpack containing his laptop and his phone and followed everyone to the market in the luscious oasis.
At the center, near the lake, a crowd of tourists was gathered around a man wearing a colorful attire. Half his teeth and one eye were missing. The one that was left rolled furiously in his socket at the sound of a drum. He danced and jumped around like a monkey, and each of his movements were punctuated by the bells attached to the hem of his costume.
Youssef was glad he was not part of the shooting team, they looked miserable as they assembled the gears under a deluge of orders. As he walked toward the market, the scents of spicy food made his stomach growled. The vendors were looking at the crowd and exchanging comments and laughs. They were certainly waiting for the performance to end and the tourists to flood the place in search of trinkets and spices. Youssef spotted a food stall tucked away on the edge. It seemed too shabby to interest anyone, which was perfect for him.
The taciturn vendor, who looked caucasian, wore a yellow jacket and a bonnet oddly reminiscent of a llama’s scalp and ears. The dish he was preparing made Youssef drool.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“This is Lorgh Drülp, said the vendor. Ancient recipe from the silk road. Very rare. Very tasty.”
He smiled when Youssef ordered a full plate with a side of tsampa. He told him to sit and wait on a stool beside an old and wobbly table.January 24, 2023 at 10:29 am #6455
Zara decided she may as well spend the hour wandering around the game before going back to the church to see the ghost of Isaac when she was sure her host Bertie was asleep. It was a warm night but a gentle breeze wafted through the open window and Zara was comfortable and content. Not just one but three new adventures had her tingling with delicious anticipation, even if she was a little anxious about not getting confused with the game. Talking to ghosts in old churches wasn’t unfamiliar, nor was a holiday in a strange hotel off the beaten track, but the game was still a bit of a mystery to her. Yeah, I know it’s just a game, she whispered to the parrot who made a soft clicking noise by way of response.
Zara found her game character, also (somewhat confusingly) named Zara, standing in the woods. Not entirely sure how it had happened, she was rather pleased to see that the cargo pants and tank top in red had changed to a more pleasing hippyish red skirt ensemble. A bit less Tomb Looter, and a bit more fairy tale looking which was more to her taste.
The woods were strangely silent and still. Zara made a 360 degree turn on the spot to see in all directions. The scene looked the same whichever way she turned, and Zara didn’t know which way to go. Then a faint path appeared to the left, and she set off in that direction. Before long she came to a round green pool.
She stopped to look but carried on walking past it, not sure what it signified. She came upon another glowing green pool before long, which looked like an entrance to a tunnel.
I bet those are portals or something, Zara realized. I wonder if I’m supposed to step into it?
“Go for it”, said Pretty Girl, “It’s only a game.”
“Ok, well here goes!” replied Zara, mentally bracing herself for a plunge into the unknown.
Zara stepped into the circle of glowing green.
“Like when Alice went down the rabbit hole!” Zara whispered to the parrot. “I’m falling, falling…oh!”
Zara emerged from the green pool onto a wide walled path. She was now in some kind of inhabited area, or at least not in the deep woods with no sign of human occupation.
“I guess that green pool is the portal back to the woods.”
“By George, she’s getting it,” replied Pretty Girl.
Zara walked along the path which led to an old deserted ancient looking village with alleyways and steps.
“This is heaps more interesting than those woods, look how pretty it all is! I love this place.”
“Weren’t you supposed to be looking for a hermit in the woods though,” said Pretty Girl.
“Or a lost traveler, and the lost traveler may be here, after falling in one of those green pools in the woods,” replied Zara tartly, not wanting to leave the enchanting scene she found her avatar in.January 24, 2023 at 11:34 am #6457
“Look, Pretty Girl! That must be the lost traveler walking up those steps!”
Zara followed the mysterious man in red robes up the steps. She lost sight of him and wondered which way he’d gone in the many side alleys. She wandered up a few of them but they all came to a dead end in a courtyard with closed doors. Eventually she saw him disappearing into a manhole that looked like a labyrinth.
Zara followed him, and stepped onto the labyrinth manhole that the man in the red robes had disappeared into.
“That must be another portal,” Zara said to the parrot. “I wonder where we’ll end up now.”
The labyrinth manhole led Zara to another portal, this time a round hole in the wall. She knew she should follow the man, who must be the lost traveler, but she couldn’t resist exploring the starlit night scene first.
She found herself in a castle, its sand coloured walls glowing in the moonlight. There was another round green pool inside the castle. Should she jump into the pool, or go back and follow the man in red through the hole in the wall? Zara walked around the castle first, exploring the many courtyards and stairs and the enchanting views from the parapets. She noticed that there were several green pools and wondered if they each led to different places.January 24, 2023 at 12:40 pm #6458
“I’m going to have to jump in this pool, Pretty Girl, look at this one! It reminds me of something…”
Zara came to a green pool that was different from the others, and walked into it.
She emerged into a new scene, with what appeared to be a floating portal, but a square one this time.
“May as well step onto it and see where it goes!” Zara told the parrot, who was taking a keen interest in the screen, somewhat strangely for a bird. “I like having you here, Pretty Girl, it’s nice to have someone to talk to.”
Zara stepped onto the floating tile portal.
“Hey, wasn’t my quest to find a wooden tile?” Zara suddenly remembered. She’d forgotten her quest while she was wandering around the enchanting castle.
“Yes, but that doesn’t look like the tile you were supposed to find though,” replied the parrot.
“It might lead me to it,” snapped Zara who didn’t really want to leave the pretty castle scenes anyway. It felt magical and somehow familiar, like she’d been there before, a long long time ago.
After stepping onto the floating tile portal, Zara encountered another tile portal. This time it was upright, with a circular portal in the centre. By now it seemed clear that the thing to do was to walk through it. She wandered around the scene first as if she was a tourist simply taking in the new sights before taking the plunge.
“Oh my god, look! It’s my tile!” Zara said excitedly to the parrot, just as the words flashed up on her screen:
Congratulations! You have reached the first goal of your first quest!
“Oh bugger! Look at the time, it’s already starting to get light outside. I completely forgot about going to that church to see Isaac’s ghost, and now I haven’t had a wink of sleep all night.”
“Time well spent,” said the parrot sagely, “You can go and see Isaac tomorrow night, and he may be all the more willing to talk since you kept him waiting.”January 24, 2023 at 11:59 pm #6459
It was pretty late, but Xavier remembered he had to book his flight (and his holidays, even if he could still mix the trip with his job… it would depend if Brytta would be able to join or not; if such were the case, he’d definitely would book time off).
At the hotel where he was staying for the 2-days business trip he had to attend for his job, he’d noticed the strange decor, with little people in costumes in odd sceneries patterned on the “Toile de Jouy” curtains and some others in the most curious framed paintings, many of them looked like actual monkeys. Curiously, there wasn’t any golden banana, or banana bus, but it made him wonder if there was something more to be looked at the Inn that Zara wanted them to go to.
Yasmin, a step ahead of him, had already looked at the reviews on MadjourneyAdvisor, and they were rave… in a fashion…
“The lady behind the bar is nearly 90 years old and believe me, she could out-work many much younger than her.”
“Old bird behind the bar is a lovely lady drop in for a chat and a beer or two – don’t mess with her or you will end up down a mine shaft”
Well… better not to overthink it. He started to look at the flights, and last minute offers.
Still no word from Youssef either.
He placed an option on a flight, and decided he’d wait for everyone to confirm the dates for the rendez-vous.January 26, 2023 at 12:16 am #6460
The vendor was preparing the Lorgh Drülp with the dexterity of a Japanese sushi chef. A piece of yak, tons of spices, minced vegetables, and some other ingredients that Youssef couldn’t recognise. He turned his attention to the shaman’s performance. The team was trying to follow the man’s erratic moves under Miss Tartiflate’s supervision. Youssef could hear her shouting to Kyle to get closer shots. It reminded him that he had to get an internet connection.
“Is there a wifi?” asked Youssef to the vendor. The man bobbed his head and pointed at the table with a knife just as big as a machete. Impressed by the size of the blade, Youssef almost didn’t see the tattoo on the vendor’s forearm. The man resumed his cooking swiftly and his long yellow sleeve hid the tattoo. Youssef touched his screen to look at his exchange with Xavier. He searched for the screenshot he had taken of the Thi Gang’s message. There it was. The mummy skull with Darth Vador’s helmet. The same as the man’s tattoo. Xavier’s last message was about the translation being an ancient silk road recipe. They had thought it a fluke in AL’s algorithm. Youssef glanced at the vendor and his knife. Could he be part of Thi Gang?
Youssef didn’t have time to think of a plan when the vendor put a tray with the Lorgh Drülp and little balls of tsampa on the table. The man pointed with his finger at the menu on the table, uncovering his forearm, it was the same as the Thi Gang logo.
“Wifi on menu,” the man said. “Tsampa, good for you…”
A commotion at the market place interrupted them. Apparently Kyle had gone too close and the shaman had crashed into him and the rest of the team. The man was cursing every one of them and Miss Tartiflate was apparently trying to calm him down by offering him snack bars. But the shaman kept brandishing an ugly sceptre that looked like a giant chicken foot covered in greasy fur, while cursing them with broken english. The tourists were all brandishing their phones, not missing a thing, ready to send their videos on TrickTruck. The shaman left angrily, ignoring all attempts at conciliation. There would be no reportage.
“Hahaha, tourists, they believe anything they see,” said the vendor before returning to his stove and his knife.
Despite his hunger, Youssef thought he’d better hurry with the wifi, now that the crew was out of work, he would be the target of Miss Tartiflate’s frustration. Furthermore, he wanted to lay low and not attract the vendor’s attention.
3235 messages from his friends. How would he ever catch up?
Among them, messages from Xavier. Youssef sighed of relief when he read that his friend had regained full access of the website and updated the system to fix a security flaw that allowed Thi Gang to gain access in the first place. But he growled when his friend continued with the bad news. There was some damage done to the content of THE BLOG.
To console himself, Youssef started to eat a ball of tsampa. It was sweet and tasted like rose. He took a second and spit it out almost immediately. There was a piece of paper inside. He smoothed it and discovered a series of five pictograms.
The first one was like a hologram and kept changing into six horizontal bars. The second one, looking like a tako bell, kept reversing side. Youssef raised his head to call the vendor and nobody was there. He got up and looked for the guy, Thi Gang or not, he needed some answers. Voices came from behind the curtain at the back of the stall. Youssef walked around the stall and saw the shaman and the vendor exchanging clothes. The caucasian man was now wearing the colourful costume and the drum. When he saw Youssef, he smiled and waved his hand, making the bells from the hem ring. Then he turned around and left, whistling an air that sounded strangely like the music of the Game. Youssef was about to run after him when a hand grasped his shirt.
“Please! Tell me at least that THE BLOG is up and running!” said an angry voice.January 28, 2023 at 11:15 am #6462
The emoji of the pirate face jumped at Xavier, as he was musing the next steps on the game. Avast ye! it seemed to hint at him, while Xavier’s thoughts were reeling from all the activity of the week. He didn’t have much time to make any progress in the Land of the Quirks game, and hardly managed to stay afloat on the stuff he had to deliver.
AL seemed to hint at a more out-of-the-box approach… Without thinking, he clicked on the emoji.
The fox bus driver indications were to follow the river until he found a junk ship moored there, which was in effect a secret floating casino. Against his best instincts, Xavimunk decided to follow the trail and after a while on the road, he could see the fully battened black sails at the horizon. Lights were glimmering in the dusk, and mist started to rise from the banks of the river. There seemed to be some unusual activity around the boat, and as Xavier arrived close, he could see a variety of quirky characters as if they were some sorts of 1920s fashionable pirates at a resort station.
The indications on the overlay screen started to shift:
It sounds like you’re making progress on your quest. The clues you received from the fox busdriver are definitely leading you in the right direction. Keep following the trail and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Remember, the golden banana is a metaphor for your cheeky and also soft nature, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
🦊💰🛳️ Explore the floating casino and see if the fox busdriver’s clues lead you to the golden banana. Don’t be afraid to take risks and think outside the box, as the golden banana may not be what it seems. Keep an open mind and pay attention to any symbols or clues that you come across.
“Yooohoooo 👉” a message bumped on the screen.
Glimmer_Gbl is trying to make contact: ➡️ACCEPT <> ➡️DENY ❓January 29, 2023 at 12:01 pm #6465
Given the new scenery unfolding in front of him, it was time for a change into more appropriate garments.
Luckily, the portal he’d clicked on came with some interesting new goodies. Xavier skimmed over some of the available options, until he found an interesting pair of old boots.
Looking at the old worn leather boots that had appeared in Xavier’s bag, he felt they would be quite appropriate, and put them on.
The changes were subtle, but Xavier already felt more in character with the place.
Suddenly a capuchin monkey jumped on his shoulder and started to pull his ear to make it to the casino boat.
The too friendly, potentially mischievous pickpocketing monkey seemed a bit of a trope, but Xavier found the creature endearing.
“Let’s go then! Seems like this party is waiting for us.” he said to the excited monkey.
He jumped into one of the dinghy doing the rounds to the boat with some of the customers.
“Ahoy there, matey!” a rather small man with a piercing blue eye and massive top hat said, giving Xavier a sideways glance. He had an eerie presence and seemed very imposing for such a small frame. “The name’s Sproink, and ye be a first-timer, I see.” he said as a casual matter of introduction.
“Nice to meet you sir” Xavier said distractedly, as he was taking in all the details in the curious boat lit by lanterns dangling in the soft wind.
“Yer too polite for these parts, me friend,” Sproink guffawed. “But have no fear, Sproink’s got yer back.” He winked at the capuchin, Xavier couldn’t help but notice, and suddenly realised that the monkey truly belonged to Sproink.
“No need to check yer pockets, matey” Sproink smiled “I have me sights set on far more interesting game than yer trinkets.” He handed him back some of the stuff that the capuchin had managed to spirit away unnoticed. “But watch yerself, matey. Not all the folk here be what they seem.”
“Point taken!” Xavimunk was indeed a bit too naive, but if anything, that’d often managed to keep him out of trouble. As the small wiry guy left with his bag of tricks in a springy gait, he turned to check his shoulder, and the monkey had disappeared somewhere on the boat too. Xavier was left wondering if he’d see more of him later.
“Welcome, welcome, me hearties!” a buxom girl of large stature with a baroque assortment of feathers and garish colours was a the entrance chewing on a straw, and looking as though the place belonged to her. But there was something else, she was too playing a part, and didn’t seem from here.
She leaned conspiratorially towards Xavier, and dragged him in a corner.
“Yer a naughty monkey, ignoring me prompts,” she said. “Was I too discrete, or what?”
“Wait, what?” Xavier was confused. Then he remembered the strange message. “Wait a minute… you’re Glimble… something, with unicorns shit or something?” He didn’t have time to entertain the young geek gamers, they were too immature, and well… a lot more invested in the game than he was, they would often turn seriously creepy.
“Oi, come on now!” she raised her hands and shook herself violently. She had turned into a different version of herself. “Now, is it better? It’s true, them avatars easily turn into ava-tarts if you ask me. But you can’t deny a lady a bit o’ comfort with a wrinkle filter. They went a bit overboard with this one, if you ask me.”
“Let’s start again. Glimmer Gambol, and nice to meet you young man.”January 29, 2023 at 1:50 pm #6466
Xavier couldn’t help but give Glimmer a quizzical look as she’d suddenly transformed before his eyes — her accent and mannerisms shifting in an instant. She swayed lightly on her feet, in an airy manner, as if not fully aware of her surroundings, but she quickly laughed it off. “You’ve got me curious about this golden banana business, I tell ya,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.
Xavier’s suspicious expression softened as she spoke. “I’m not the one you’re looking for if you’re after information, but it sounds like a right thrilling adventure.” Glimmer grinned, “Mind if I tag along for a bit and show you around the casino boat? I know all the best games and I’ve met all sorts of pirate-talking characters here.”
With a cheeky grin, Xavier replied, “I’ll take your word for it, love.”
Glimmer’s enthusiasm for the game and eagerness to show him around the casino boat was contagious. Xavier followed her as she bounced through the crowd, pointing out different games and introducing him to the various pirate-talking characters that populated the boat.
“Watch yer back ’round ‘im,” Glimmer warned, nodding towards a tall, scruffy-looking man with a patch over one eye. ” ‘E’s a bit of a card shark, and ‘e’s known to cheat.”
As they walked, Glimmer regaled Xavier with tales of her adventures in the land and the colourful characters she had encountered. Xavier couldn’t help but feel a bit envious of her level of immersion and her enjoyment of the game.
Suddenly, the boat began to move, and Xavier realised that it was no longer anchored to the dock. Glimmer’s face lit up with excitement, “Oooh, it looks like we’re on a journey now! I’ve heard rumours of secret locations along the river that the boat takes players to. I can’t wait to see where we’re headed!”
Xavier couldn’t help but feel a sense of adventure and wonder and he followed Glimmer to the deck, watching as the boat sailed away from the dock along the river and into the unknown. He was terribly curious and looking forward to seeing where the boat would take him and what other surprises this adventure had in store.January 29, 2023 at 3:15 pm #6468
At the former Chinggis Khaan International Airport which was now called the New Ulaanbaatar International Airport, the young intern sat next to Youssef, making the seats tremble like a frail suspended bridge in the Andes. Youssef had been considering connecting to the game and start his quest to meet with his grumpy quirk, but the girl seemed pissed, almost on the brink of crying. So Youssef turned off his phone and asked her what had happened, without thinking about the consequences, and because he thought it was a nice opportunity to engage the conversation with her at last, and in doing so appear to be nice to care so that she might like him in return.
Natalie, because he had finally learned her name, started with all the bullying she had to endure from Miss Tartiflate during the trip, all the dismissal about her brilliant ideas, and how the Yeti only needed her to bring her coffee and pencils, and go fetch someone her boss needed to talk to, and how many time she would get no thanks, just a short: “you’re still here?”
After some time, Youssef even knew more about her parents and her sisters and their broken family dynamics than he would have cared to ask, even to be polite. At some point he was starting to feel grumpy and realised he hadn’t eaten since they arrived at the airport. But if he told Natalie he wanted to go get some food, she might follow him and get some too. His stomach growled like an angry bear. He stood more quickly than he wanted and his phone fell on the ground. The screen lit up and he could just catch a glimpse of a desert emoji in a notification before Natalie let out a squeal. Youssef looked around, people were glancing at him as if he might have been torturing her.
“Oh! Sorry, said Youssef. I just need to go to the bathroom before we board.”
“But the boarding is only in one hour!”
“Well I can’t wait one hour.”
“In that case I’m coming with you, I need to go there too anyway.”
“But someone needs to stay here for our bags,” said Youssef. He could have carried his own bag easily, but she had a small suitcase, a handbag and a backpack, and a few paper bags of products she bought at one of the two the duty free shops.
Natalie called Kyle and asked him to keep a close watch on her precious things. She might have been complaining about the boss, but she certainly had caught on a few traits of her.
Youssef was glad when the men’s bathroom door shut behind him and his ears could have some respite. A small Chinese business man was washing his hands at one of the sinks. He looked up at Youssef and seemed impressed by his height and muscles. The man asked for a selfie together so that he could show his friends how cool he was to have met such a big stranger in the airport bathroom. Youssef had learned it was easier to oblige them than having them follow him and insist.
When the man left, Youssef saw Natalie standing outside waiting for him. He thought it would have taken her longer. He only wanted to go get some food. Maybe if he took his time, she would go.
He remembered the game notification and turned on his phone. The icon was odd and kept shifting between four different landscapes, each barren and empty, with sand dunes stretching as far as the eye could see. One with a six legged camel was already intriguing, in the second one a strange arrowhead that seemed to be getting out of the desert sand reminded him of something that he couldn’t quite remember. The fourth one intrigued him the most, with that car in the middle of the desert and a boat coming out of a giant dune.
Still hungrumpy he nonetheless clicked on the shapeshifting icon and was taken to a new area in the game, where the ground was covered in sand and the sky was a deep orange, as if the sun was setting. He could see a mysterious figure in the distance, standing at the top of a sand dune.
The bell at the top right of the screen wobbled, signalling a message from the game. There were two. He opened the first one.
We’re excited to hear about your real-life parallel quest. It sounds like you’re getting close to uncovering the mystery of the grumpy shaman. Keep working on your blog website and keep an eye out for any clues that Xavier and the Snoot may send your way. We believe that you’re on the right path.
What on earth was that ? How did the game know about his life and the shaman at the oasis ? After the Thi Gang mess with THE BLOG he was becoming suspicious of those strange occurrences. He thought he could wonder for a long time or just enjoy the benefits. Apparently he had been granted a substantial reward in gold coins for successfully managing his first quest, along with a green potion.
He looked at his avatar who was roaming the desert with his pet bear (quite hungrumpy too). The avatar’s body was perfect, even the hands looked normal for once, but the outfit had those two silver disks that made him look like he was wearing an iron bra.
He opened the second message.
Clue unlocked It sounds like you’re in a remote location and disconnected from the game. But, your real-life experiences seem to be converging with your quest. The grumpy shaman you met at the food booth may hold the key to unlocking the next steps in the game. Remember, the desert represents your ability to adapt and navigate through difficult situations.
🏜️🧭🧙♂️ Explore the desert and see if the grumpy shaman’s clues lead you to the next steps in the game. Keep an open mind and pay attention to any symbols or clues that may help you in your quest. Remember, the desert represents your ability to adapt and navigate through difficult situations.
Youssef recalled that strange paper given by the lama shaman, was it another of the clues he needed to solve that game? He didn’t have time to think about it because a message bumped onto his screen.
“Need help? Contact me 👉”
Sands_of_time is trying to make contact : ➡️ACCEPT <> ➡️DENY ❓January 29, 2023 at 5:15 pm #6469
The door opened and Youssef saw Natalie, still waiting for him. Indeed, he needed help. He decided to accept
sands_of_timecontact request, hopping it was not another Thi Gang trick.
Sands_of_time is trying to make contact : ✅ACCEPT <> ➡️DENY ❓
A princess on horse back emerged from the sand. The veil on her hair floated in a wind that soon cleared all the dust from her garment and her mount, revealing a princess with a delicate face and some prominent attributes that didn’t leave Youssef indifferent. She was smiling at him, and her horse, who had six legs and looked a bit like a camel, snorted at the bear.
“I love doing that, said the princess. At least I don’t get to spit sand afterward like when my sister’s grand-kids want to bury me in the sand at the beach…”
It broke the charm. It reminded Youssef it was all a game. That princess was an avatar. Was it even a girl on the other side ? And how old ? Youssef, despite his stature, felt as vulnerable as when his mother left him for the afternoon with an old aunt in Sudan when he was five and she kept wanting to dress him with colourful girl outfits. He shivered and the bear growled at the camel-horse, reminding Youssef how hungry he was.
sands_of_time?” he asked.
“Yes. I like this AI game. Makes me feel like I’m twenty again. Not as fun as a mushroom trip though, but… with less secondary effects. Anyway, I saw you needed help with that girl. A ‘reel’ nuisance if you ask me, sticky like a sea cucumber.”
“How do you know ? Did you plant bugs on my phone ? Are you with the Thi Gang ?”
The bear moved toward them and roared and the camel-horse did a strange sound. The princess appeased her mount with a touch of her hand.
“Oh! Boy, calm down your heat. Nothing so prosaic. I have other means, she said with a grin. Call me Sweet Sophie, I’m a real life reporter. Was just laying down on my dream couch looking for clues about a Dr Patelonus, the man’s mixed up in some monkey trafficking business, when I saw that strange llama dressed like a tibetan monk, except it was a bit too mayonnaise for a tibetan monk. Anyway, he led me to you and told me to contact you through this Quirk Quest Game, suggesting you might have some intel for me about that monkey business of mine. So I put on my VR helmet, which actually reminds me of a time at the hair salon, and a gorgeous beehive… but anyway you wouldn’t understand. So I had to accept one of those quests and find you in the game. Which was a lot less easier than RV I can tell you. The only thing, I couldn’t interact with you unless you accepted contact. So here I am, ready for you to tell me about Dr Patelonus. But I can see that first we need to get you out of here.”
Youssef had no idea about what she was talking about. VR; RV ? one and the same ? He decided not to tell her he knew nothing about monkeys or doctors until he was out of Natalie’s reach. If indeed
“So what do I do ?” asked Youssef.
“Let me first show you my real self. I’ve always wanted to try that. Wait a moment. I need to focus.”
The princess avatar looked in the distance, her eyes lost beyond this world. Suddenly, Youssef felt a presence creeping into his mind. He heard a laugh and saw an old lady in yoga pants on a couch! He roared and almost let go of his phone again.
The princess smiled.
“Now, wouldn’t be fair if only I knew what you looked like in real life. Although you’re pretty close to your avatar… Don’t you seem a tad afraid of experimenting with new things. “
She laughed again, and this time Youssef saw her “real” face superimposed on the princess avatar. It gave him goosebumps.
“Now’s your opening, she said. The girl’s busy giving directions to someone else. Get out of the bathroom! Now!”
Youssef had the strangest feeling that the voice had come at the same time from the phone speakers and from inside his head. His body acted on its own as if he was a puppet. He pushed the bathroom door open and rushed outside.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.