Bound in Earth

by Kuwanger

"Do you hear the whisper of the wind?"

"The whisper of the wind?" What was she talking about now? Tim tapped the edge of his sword's blade against a nearby rock.

"You're going to dull your blade."

"You can't dull your blade in this game."

"That's the problem. People like you would always be up in arms if you had to constantly replace your blade." Dawn sighed. "Anyways, I think the wind is saying something."

"Oh, of course it is. That makes perfect sense. Who the fuck designed this game anyways?"

"Would you be quiet? I'm trying to understand it." Tim quieted down, trying to hear it as well.

"I don't hear anything. And why would a clue be in the wind anyways? This isn't in a wind spirit's realm or anything."

"Will you shut up!?"

"Fine. Fine. Whatever." Tim tried to concentrate for a while. Nope, just sounded like wind. Tim threw a rock across the sandy surface, watching it skip a few times.

"What did I just say?"

"I wasn't talking."

"And I told you to be quiet before."

"And then you told me to shut up. Which is it?"


"Okay, fine. But before that, you understand any of what it said yet?"

"No. Not really." Dawn peaked her elven ears again. The wind whistled between the canyon walls, along the edges and through the many holes that dotted the thin pillars. No, it didn't sound like anything but whistling. She couldn't say that now, though. "Okay, it says to go a bit further in."

"Oh, sure. Of course it does. And that has nothing to do with us not having been here before." Tim sighed and picked up his bag of holding, dropping his sword blade inside and tying its noose upon his belt. Maybe there'd be gold inside. There had to be something interesting.

Dawn and Tim walked through the narrow crevice. Inside a bit, the wind whistled louder, and a small spring, nothing more than a small hole bubbling up water, could be seen. With the slanting of the smooth ground, the channel of water flowed inward. They walked, one foot on each side of the narrow stream. Just at the enterance to the cave, an equally mysterious hole drained the spring water away.

Tim pulled open his bag of holding and took out a flask. Drinking what little was left, he filled it up with the spring water. Returning it to has bag, he continued in. Dawn, right behind him, did similar, though she stored her flask in her hat. Tim sometimes envied how Dawn's race came with a non-losable, built-in bag of holding. Shame they couldn't use swords, he he.

Inside the cave was damp, with the frequent drops of water audible. Little bowls of rock contained the dripping water, with the smooth pathways to the other caverns conspicuously dry. The pathways branched in a clean Y-shape. "Clearly they didn't put a lot of thought into making it look natural," said Tim.

"Why should they? It's fantasy."

"Yea, but why go through all the effort of making something even remotely natural just to f*** it up by not putting in little details?"

"D*** it," said Tim. "What's with this f***ing censorship?"

"It's rated E, for Everyone."

"How the f*** can a game that involves killing be rated for Everyone? What sort of motherf****** would say that it's okay for little Timmy to go butcher a few orphans."

"Would you watch it with the language?" Dawn thought a bit. "There aren't any orphanages in this game anyways."

"And that's another thing. We kill lots of monsters, but surely their children aren't going to raise themselves. And why aren't the monsters suing us for wrongful death?"

"I told you, it's fantasy. Stop with all the political c***, and let's just enjoy the game already."

"Fine. Fine." Tim looked towards the left and right doorways. Both had a dim light shining through. "So, which way?"

"Uh, right, I guess."

"You guess?"

"Right it is. Let's go." Dawn lead the way, Tim followed closely behind, wondering if the rock monsters in this cave had proper dental insurance. But how could they pay the premiums? It's not like rocks just grow on trees.

Dawn stopped a few feet into the next cavern. It was much bigger than the previous one, and its walls glittered. On closer inspection, it was just a sparkly effect, and the walls weren't lined with crystals. Blue sky could be seen through a hole high above. It had been cloudy when they'd entered.

"D*** inconsistent..."


"Nothing." Etched in the rock were four staircases, two on the side they'd entered and two on the other side of the vast cavern. They all descended to a mostly flat rectangular slab with a rock table upon it. The two walked down the stairs and approached the table. It was smooth, with rounded corners, and completely empty. Looking around the chamber, the only other discernable things were exits at the top of each set of stairs.

"Okay, so now what do we do?" ask Tim.

"Well, we proceed forward."

"Well, no duh. Which way is forward?"

"Uh, that way." Dawn pointed to the doorway to the left of wher they'd entered. They entered, standing again in a Y-pathway, though this time on the left fork. Looking forward, they could see outside. They proceeded outside, but just at the mouth of the cave, they saw the same stream and hole.

"Perhaps it's a trick cave? We should go back and try one of the doors on the opposite side."

"Of course, of course." They turned around, took the left path, and appeared at the right-fork of the entrance chamber. "Uh, this isn't right." They turned around to see that behind him was the large sparkling chamber.

"Yes, well, we're here. So, now what?" The stepped down the stairs again, trying the door on the right on the opposite side. It too lead to the entrance chamber. "This is getting quite annoying."

Dawn said calmly, "It must have something to do with the table, then." Making their way back to the central chamber, they looked at the table again. It still looked as smooth and empty as ever. Tim took out his sword and tried to etch into it, but his sword merely glided through it without changing it.

"Ah, it must be a mirage." Tim started to walk through it, but bumped into its edge and fell on his ass. Standing up, rubbing his rump, he remarked, "Okay, a trick table then. What use is a table one can bump into but can't use items on?"

"Maybe it only doesn't work with weapons?" Dawn took out a flask and placed it on the table. Letting go, the flasked dropped through the table and shattered on the floor below. "What the f***?"


"Oh, uh, sorry. But items aren't supposed to break! What in the world is going on?"

"Maybe it's a glitch table?"

"A glitch table? Could you just shut up for a minute? We don't need to name the bloody thing right now."

"But if we don't name it, then how are we supposed to find it in the strategy guide?"

"Hey! You told me you weren't going to use a strategy guide on this game!"

"Uh, I, uh... I meant after we finished it." Tim started rummaging around in his bag of holding. He pulled out an empty flask and handed it to Dawn. "Here, you can fill it up at the spring outside. I'll try to think of something while you're gone."

"No, that's okay. I've got enough empty flasks." Dawn handed it back. Tim handed it back. Dawn handed it back. "Stop it."

"Okay, fine. So, do you have any ideas?"

"What does the strategy guide say?"

"Uh, how would I know? I'm not using one."

"Sure. So, how about you trying to climb on top of the table?" Tim walked up beside the table. He fidgeted a few times, then turned to Dawn.

"What's the command to climb? 'Climb' isn't working. Would 'mount' work?"

"Does it look like a horse to you?"

"No, smarta**. But what else am I supposed to do?"

"Well, maybe if you keep pushing against it some help will pop-up on what to do." Tim frowned a bit, then walked into the table. Walking in place, Tim fidgeted a few more times.

"It's not working."

"Well I can see that."

"So, now what do you want to do? Look for another area?"

"Well, I guess. Maybe someone else knows what we are supposed to do. In any case, I need to fill up my flask soon."

"You told me you had plenty of flasks!"

"Empty flasks." Dawn ignored Tim and walked outside to fill her flasks. Once taking a drink and putting her flasks away, she turned around looking for Tim. "Tim," she yelled. "Are you coming?" There was no answer.

She went back to the main chamber hall. It was sparkly as ever, table empty as ever, but there was no Tim. Maybe he's gone off ahead? She exitted the cave and walked outside of the canyon. Once out in the open, she looked around. No, he's not out here. There's no way he'd be out of range already. And he wouldn't have just quit without saving in town.

Again, she went back to the main hall. What was with the sparkly effect, anyways? It's not like even if it were made of precious minerals they could mine it. Stupid eye candy. She approached the table. Putting her hand upon it, she felt it pass through.

"Aha!" Dawn tried to jump on to the table, and she fell through it, standing on the broken flask on the floor. Per body waded through the table's top and it shimmered a bit where it met her waist. "There must be a hole or something somewhere." She walked towards the center. "Nothing there."

She walked towards each corner, with similar non-effect. She finally decided to carefully walk back and forth across the table, hoping to eventually either bump into something or trigger a switch or something. Back and forth, back and forth, half way through, she looked over, and noticed that the room seemed a bit more mirrored than she'd noticed before. The sparkles always appeared simutaneously at the same spot on both left and right sides.

"Aha!" Almost immediatly, Dawn realized she hadn't a clue what that meant. But maybe it meant she didn't have to search the other side? She started searching it anyways, figuring maybe it was just a glitch in the room design. It would be better to confirm for sure there wasn't a hidden switch instead of just giving up. Back and forth, back and forth, she neared the final corner, then stopped.

"Maybe I'm thinking of this wrong. Perhaps it requires a proper order? Or maybe there's something else entirely I'm supposed to be doing." Dawn jumped back over the table's edge and sat down to contemplate. After a while, her eyes glazed over a bit as she starred into the sparkles that aligned the walls. Realizing she was a bit hazy, she shook her head and snapped out of it.

"Maybe I should just follow his stupid suggest and try to 'mount' the table." She stood up, pressed against the table, and tried to mount it.

'What do I look like, a horse?'

"Who said that?" She looked at the prompt, and realized it was just a system message. That's peculiar. "Yes, you look like a horse?"

'I know you are, but what am I?'

"A table?" Dawn felt funny for a second. Why was she on all fours all of a sudden? She blinked, and realized she was standing out in an open field. Looking down, she saw the green grass waving in the wind. She heard a neighing, then realized it was coming from herself. She felt a weight on her back like she was giving a horsey ride to one of her nephews.

Horsey ride? Wait, did I just get turned into a horse? "Come on, girl. What's the matter?" She recognized that voice. "Come on. I paid good money for you d*** it, so move it already." Rearing up on her hindlegs, she dumped the smarta** on his ass. Turning around, sure enough, Tim was on the grass with a perplexed look in his eyes.

Without giving it much thought, Dawn trampled Tim. 'Warning: Do not attack human players.' Dawn kicked him a few times more for good measure. 'Global Announcement: Player Dawn <Horse> has attacked Player Tim <Smarta** Swoardsmen>. PK restrictions have been removed on Player Dawn and a bounty is offered for her head or hoof. Good hunting.'

Tim looked up at the horse, with a glimmer of realization. He began to rummage around in his bag of holding. "F*** it," neighed Dawn, as she crushed Tim's head. Removing her head set, Dawn said, "Go play with your fucking self." Dawn covered her mouth. Looking around, she saw her 1st grade teacher glaring angerly at her.

"Suzy Jenkins," said the teacher as she grabbed her by the hand, "you're supposed to be study your math lessons, not playing games." Mrs. Parker dragged little Suzy down to the Principal's office. It seemed it would be another day where her mom would be sending her to bed without dessert.



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