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The Dungeon threatens to reform itself early! Fanfic by Stephen Reid

The Unwelcome

[Stephen Reid/Feb 2001]

It had been a particularly tough enough season in the dungeon as it was...

Of the three teams who had tread the path already, none had made it past level 1. But this wasn't a normal season; it was certainly unlike any that Treguard had witnessed in all his years as Master of the Dungeon. From the moment the path re-opened, smells and drafts blew in from the porthole that was the entry to level 1. However unlike any other year, the smells were unfamiliar to Treguard, and the once gentle breeze that came in all the way from level 3 was now definitely more of a wind.

Treguard knew right from the start that something was amiss. At the best of times Knightmare Castle was not the most comforting of places to be, but now there was an eerie, sinister feel about the place. The walls seemed darker, the air thicker and murkier. Treguard was very wary of the feeling he had inside him. As Dungeon Master he was usually bold and confident. It couldn't be possible that someone - or something - down there was making him… afraid of the dungeon

Could it?

"Things will lighten up once Majida returns," the large bold man had told himself. "She always brings a sparkle to the place. Speaking of which she should be here by now, it's almost time for our first adventure." Treguard had waited and waited for his little assistant to arrive but his patience was in vain. Finally he had no choice but to start the first quest without her.

That was 4 weeks ago. Three quests had past and there was still no sign of the Majida the Genie. Level one hadn't even been completed yet and the anxiety inside Treguard was getting worse. There was definitely something not quite right with the Dungeon. It suddenly occurred to him that Lord Fear had not yet put in an appearance. That was definitely unlike normal events. He decided that before summoning the next team, he would check on his old nemesis. He walked up to the magic mirror and summoned "Lord Fear?"

Nothing…

"Lord Fear!"

Again nothing…

"Hmmm" Treguard wondered to himself.

"Spell casting: G-O-T-H"

Suddenly on the mirror before Treguard appeared the image of the tower of Goth, where Lord Fear was last seen. Or at least it was the image of where tower of Goth used to be; now it was nothing more than a ruin. There were bricks and rubble everywhere, and an eerie mist surrounding everything. Was that a dead fright knight lying in one corner?

Suddenly, Treguard saw something long and thin and green move, near the back of the image. "Hello?" he called. "Is someone there?" But whatever it was scuttled away. "Answer me!" he called, getting impatient with the oddity of events.

Finally, the long green creature crawled out from behind a pile of rubble. Treguard was surprised at what it was - a giant lizard. He had seen giant spiders and giant scorpions and even giant… well giants! But never had he come across a tropical lizard in the coldness of the dungeon! Suddenly, even more unexpectedly, the lizard spoke.

"Hello?" it hissed, its voice familiar. "Isss that a human?"

"Well, not quite," replied Treguard. "I am the Dungeon Master"

The lizard gasped. "I am not sssupposssed to talk to you," it said

"And why not?"

"My Lordness hasss ordered me not to."

"You're Lordness?" Suddenly the penny dropped. "Is that you Lissard? One of Lord Fear's assistants?"

"Yesss. That's meeee" He hissed.

Treguard went silent for a minute. He was very confused and this was disturbing him. As master of the dungeon why did he not have a clue what was going on?

"Well, erm, Lissard, could you possibly tell me what has become of your, erm, Lordness?" He asked

Lissard was silent for quite a while. Finally he replied. "Haven't you heard?"

"Lord Fear is dead."

"Dead? DEAD?" Treguard exclaimed after many minutes of shocked silence. "How can this be?" For a moment, Treguard almost felt a slight emotion of sadness, but he quickly fought it back, as for years he had taught himself that there is no time for compassion in this game.

Snapping himself out of it, he asked the slimy lizard "What on earth has happened? What is going on here?!"

There was a silence. The lizard paused and looked unsure of the answer.

"Well what happened to YOU then?"

Treguard was really speaking down to Lissard. Then again, wouldn't you?

"It turned me into a lizard, Massster"

"I guessed that! WHAT turned you into a lizard?" he boomed.

"The… the…" Lissard stammered.

"SPIT IT OUT!"

Treguard's bad temper scared the already very fragile lizard and before Treguard could say anything else, Lissard scurried away out of sight.

"This is serious", Treguard told himself. Immediately he summoned the only other person who could be of use. "Hordriss?"

Hordriss did not appear before Treguard as usual, though, and instead appeared in the magic mirror. He appeared to be in his chamber, although it also was in ruins, and was huddled up into a corner.

"Hordriss!" yelled Treguard.

Hordriss jumped with fright. "Treguard!" he exclaimed.

"Hordriss what's the matter?" He noticed that the magician was slightly rocking backwards and forwards.

"There is no point in me telling you. It is too strong to resist. You cannot beat it. My dear Sidriss is dead because of it. It is haunting the dungeon as we speak now. Have you not felt its presence?"

"I have felt something odd, yes. What is it? Is Fear up to his old tricks again?"

"No Treguard, this power is one hundred times greater than Lord Fear."

Treguard gasped. "Then it can only be… He has returned from hiding! Mogdread is back!"

There was a long silence.

"No Treguard. Mogdread has never been seen again since his mysterious disappearance all those years ago. Now Treguard there is no time to waste. It is too late for me but you still have time. Get out of Knightmare castle! Get away from the Dungeon! It is coming!"

"What's coming?"

But suddenly the room Treguard saw in the mirror began to flash. Bright colours ran and streaked through it. Behind the colours, Hordriss gently faded, repeating the phrase "It's coming… It's coming… It's coming…" Within seconds, the room had almost completely vanished into a mist of colours and sounds.

"It can't be reforming already!" Treguard told himself. "Its far too early. The season has only lasted 4 weeks!"

But he was right. The Dungeon was already reforming, and there was no way for Treguard to stop it or understand it. He had mastered the dungeon, but he did not control the fate of it. He could hear the echoes of the rooms collapsing and the winds howling and thunder booming from the dungeon below where he stood. While the dungeon reformed, Treguard was powerless. There was nothing he could do but wait.

One month had passed, during which Treguard had occupied himself by mainly marching back and forth in the main chamber of the castle waiting until the next season. He sat on his large wooden chair, with both his arms resting on the arms of the seat. He remembered the day that Knightmare Castle had been saved from the troll by dungeoneer Barry. He remembered fierceful Gundrada who had helped many a dungeoneer. He remembered the jesters Motley and Folly, and how he had always wished he could tell them the truth that they were separated at birth.

All of a sudden the rumble of the ground beneath him stopped. The echoes of the wind from the reformation of the levels halted. The booming thunder calmed. Could it be that the dungeon was now complete? And if so, could the new season have arrived already? It had only been one month since the last one ended, but by now, nothing was surprising Treguard.

Well, almost nothing…

The porthole to level one of the dungeon at the opposite side of the room now opened. The icy cold feeling that Treguard had got from the previous season remained. And Hordriss' last words still echoed through Treguard's mind. "It's coming…"

Suddenly the room became very cold, and Treguard noticed that the fire had blown out. He tried to re-light it, but as soon as it gained any power, it burned away again. "Odd. Oh well, no time to stand here all day. I need to begin the first quest," Treguard said.

"Enter, Stranger…"

After 5 minutes, the first team was all ready and the dungeoneer was told to walk forward, into the dungeon. The magic mirror lit up and everyone was very surprised as to what they saw. The dungeoneer, Mark, was stood in his first room, but it was unfamiliar as a level 1 room. In fact he appeared to have entered the dreaded corridor of blades. However it was moving at a remarkably slow speed, and there didn't appear to be any blades in sight.

Treguard told the team not to panic, and that since this was level one, there wasn't likely to be any blades, but if there were, the corridor was certainly moving slowly enough to avoid them on time. Treguard and the team waited patiently to see what was going on. The dungeoneer was becoming anxious.

"Where am I?" he called.

"I wish I knew…" replied Treguard.

They continued to wait and watch as Mark the dungeoneer travelled along the corridor. Treguard was beginning to wonder if this really was the old corridor of blades at all. There appeared to be no slots in the walls where the blades usually travelled along. In fact the walls were completely flat and smooth. Also the corridor was traveling painfully slowly- much slower than walking pace. It certainly didn't seem as sophisticated as the 'blades. In fact it was a rather unsteady platform indeed. Treguard had an idea.

"Mark?" he called. "Could u describe to us what this corridor smells like?"

Mark took a deep breath in through his nose.

"It's a strong smell - of wood - and plastic."

"Hmmm. Any metal?"

Mark wasn't sure what Treguard meant by the smell of metal but he was positive he couldn't smell any. "No metal."

Treguard thought to himself. The corridor of blades had been running for years. It had been there even before Treguard had mastered the dungeon. It was so powerful that it always survived reformation. It was bound to smell of heavily of metal, or even rust, by this day in age.

"Mark?" Treguard repeated. "This smell of wood and plastic: does the wood smell fresh? And does the plastic smell strong?"

After another deep sniff, Mark replied "Yes," as he continued to move slowly along this apparently endless corridor.

"Hmmm." Treguard wondered out loud. "It seems this place you are in is new. Brand new. This is very odd. Although the dungeon has newly reformed, reforming only includes the re-cycling of material already in the dungeon to create something new. It does not involve bringing in NEW material - such as plastic."

There was a pause, before one of the three advisors turned to Treguard. "Maybe Mark isn't in the dungeon at all…"

"Of course he is!" Treguard replied sharply. "We all saw him enter the dungeon through that porthole!"

Treguard was getting to the end of his tether. All the confusion of recent events was getting to him. The team watched as he sat, his hands firmly grasping the ends of the arms of his large wooden chair, his knuckles pure white. They decided to be quiet in fear of what he might do if he lost his temper.

Almost two hours passed, and Mark was still moving slowly along this platform without having come across or anything or anyone. He was quite casual now, and in fact was sitting on the floor, with his legs crossed. The advisors were talking amongst themselves, occasionally glancing up at the mirror to see if anything changed. It didn't. Silently in his chair, Treguard was becoming increasingly impatient. Suddenly he yelled, "Right!"

The startled team jumped and turned to listen to their dungeon master.

"There is something dreadfully amiss here. This corridor is getting us nowhere, and time is ticking away. Mark's life force is at red. We must get out of this corridor."

The team waited to hear something which had never dared been said in the dungeon before.

"Team," Treguard continued. "We shall have to do the strictly forbidden. Mark, stand up! I'm afraid you will have to turn back!"

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