Scout seemed somewhat caught off guard, upon hearing a familiar voice address her. She couldn't seem to pinpoint the direction exactly, almost as though the white light really was blinding her. Still, out of either earnesty or just an abundance of kindness, she adjusted her glasses and made an effort to look in Anathema's direction. "Oh, h-hello, um..." she murmured, seeming bothered that she couldn't match the voice to a name. "You know, um, why don't I greet you as soon as the dungeon loads? I can't see right now," she finally admitted.
Refocusing on her work/play, Anathema began to set parameters for her "maze", such as it was. The first was to update Parka's wardrobe to something that would fit with the others. This was accomplished with great ease; no sooner were the words spoken than Parka's costume transformed to fit. It was a very close match to the original, albeit now including less parka and more dress; the cloak itself was still pretty park-like, but smaller. While the dress was still as modest as they come, the absence of loose parka made clear the curvature that probably had tempted MazeMan to invite her to an adult adventure. The swell of her bust had been pretty apparent even with the cloak on, but the bottom matched.
The next change took a moment longer, as though the system needed to think, but it still came with remarkable speed. The whiteness around each of them begin to fill, first with a floor, then walls, then ceiling. The impression the room gave was being the entrance hall of a large temple, despite Anathema's knowledge that this one room currently comprised the whole temple. A few skull-mounted candles appeared on pedestals, with strings of skulls hanging from long, braided ropes here and there. They were the kinds of decorations that would be horrifying to see in real life, but pretty unremarkable to see in a video game.
The others slowly began to get their senses about them as Anathema finished writing. She would see her pad light up with another message as well:
[Quote]If you have any questions or changes you need, just write them down![/quote]
Parka was the first to speak up after "loading in." "It does feel a little more edgy, doesn't it? All those skulls! You might worry bringing kids into something like this," Parka noted, though, if Anathema looked closely, she would notice that the girl was already clinging onto MazeMan's arm. It was possible that she was the type that got scared easily.
MazeMan had a sort of sour frown as he looked around, perhaps having expected something a little more overtly tailored to his interests here rather than a classic dungeon. Once he felt Parka on his arm, however, he put on an energized, confident smirk. "Ha ha, don't worry. The perils are going to be a little more dangerous than usual, but it's nothing we can't handle," he suggested, hoisting his hammer over his unoccupied shoulder.
Scout blinked a few more times, adjusted her glasses, and finally, turned to Anathema, now recognizing her. "Wow! That is a coincidence. I just started playing this game a little while ago... It's a fun way to relax without worrying about Clair's magic and such," she laughed, sounding pretty weary. If Anathema had heard from her operator what Clair's magic routine involved, with all of the information gathering and such, she might see how it could be exhausting. "How about you, have you played before?"
"She is an experienced magician," MazeMan answered quickly, dodging the question slightly. If one thought about it, one might begin to suspect whether the young(?) man had forgotten the cover story, as to whether Anathema was an experienced player or just a newcomer who was used to performing magic.
"Hey, I've never played with a friend before," Scout added. If it was SellSoul here, Anathema might have gotten an overly enthusiastic hug, but Scout was more of a reserved person. "That ought to be fun for a change." MazeMan frowned and looked between the two; he was perhaps trying to discern if the two of them knowing each other was going to mean anything as far as his plan went.
Speaking of surprises, the obsidian double doors at the end of the room suddenly swung open with a heavy woosh
. The area behind was unlit shadow, but two figures began to emerge from the darkness, moving very differently. The first was a woman wearing gray-blue steel armor, clad from head to toe. The armor's helmet was oddly shaped, like a long spike with a pointed top. It was a little hard to tell if there was anything sexy under there, especially since the helmet completely covered the face. What was apparent: a set of six armored arms, ending in tentacle appendages covered like oddly shaped gauntlets, were extending from the torso. This must have been what MazeMan meant when he said "mixed bag" earlier.
The second was more suited to a conventional pallet: a shorter lady dressed in a black mantle with light-weight, gleaming black armor. Her fangs and, combined with the leathery wings on her back, made her look like a vampire. In addition to that, she carried a narrow sword with a needle-like point. Her eyes were fully black like shiny voids, while her hair was a contrasting light blond color that seemed odd given the edginess of the rest of her gear. The armor ended in a skirt with high boots, revealing pale but shapely thighs, a bit of a thinner figure than Parka or Scout (or Anathema) cut. "Welcome to our temple," the vampire greeted them with laughter in her voice, as she brought her blade to her lips and ran her tongue along it in a classic evildoer motion. "I can't wait to taste your blood on my blade."
"... Oh, we do characters?" the other asked in a whisper, seeming suddenly uncomfortable. It was a female voice under all that armor, at least. "I'll... strangle you," she decided upon, raising her tentacles in the air and wiggling them semi-threateningly. She stopped, then leaned over to whisper to the other. "Myrmaidon, is Trik not going to make us grow before we fight? There's a lot of them-"
Myrmaidon, keeping the savage smile on her face, spoke out the corner of her mouth. "We aren't going to win, it's the first room," she pointed out as quietly as possible. "My companion and I will drain your corpses and toss them back out... It's the best you can expect after desecrating our temple."
Parka looked like all the talk about blood and corpses was affecting her, but she stepped forward anyway, as if she was going to protect MazeMan herself. "Don't lay a tendril upon my student!" she warned the two monsters.
"We are on their turf! Keep mindful of traps," Scout warned the others, moving to the back and knocking an arrow as she spoke.
"No, I'm supposed to be in front probably," MazeMan corrected Parka, moving with surprising quickness given his heavy gear and standing in front of his teacher. "I'll engage them! You all can support!" he commanded his team, suddenly sounding more in his role as he adopted a booming voice.
"Ha ha ha! You hope to weather the two of us at once? An unenviable task!" Myrmaidon cackled while the octopoid lady remained characteristically quiet. MazeMan raised his hammer and immediately began trading blows with the tentacles of the many-armed opponent. While he was thus occupied, Myrmaidon seemed to vanish like a shadow, only to reappear alongside the three MazeMan was trying to protect. "Fools! And you shall die like fools," she sneered, brandishing her sword like a stinger, ready to thrust at her enemies.
Anathema would note at this point that she couldn't use her chips. She felt like she could use something
, though, and if she tried, she would find that she was capable of conjuring a fireball. If that left her uninspired, she might note that her scroll had another message written upon it.
Hey there! I know you're a first time player, so here's a tip! In Mage's Maze, you have to earn spells to use them. You can either find them in the Maze, or, if you're a mage, feel free to just write yourself and your teammate whatever crazy spells you want! The sky's the limit!
Did you know? You can also issue instructions to the enemies! Just type them here and they'll be relayed!
Scout wasn't waiting and had already begun to fire arrows at Myrmaidon. The vampire tilted her head back with a cool smile, then faded into black, appearing first to the left, then to the right, dodging the projectiles. Parka, for her part, appeared to be watching the others with her hands clenched into fists. One might easily imagine that her experience as a priestess was telling her to wait and see who needed healing.
MazeMan might be enjoying the chance to show off, but he was probably lamenting that the enemy seemed to be fighting him back rather handily and he was also not facing the correct way to watch any of the other action.
As for Octopressure, she had stopped matching whacks with him and wrapped her arms around the hammer instead, engaging in a tug of war. The armor that had been coating her tentacles had been smashed off in several places, revealing white tendrils, slick with moisture.