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The Queen's Trials

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Her riddles were tricky, intricate things. Dean Dracon vaulted himself over the barrier, clearly labeled ‘DO NOT ENTER’ in a faded yellow, and written beneath it in red, ‘I’M SERIOUS!!!’.

 

He hit the floor, sending dust everywhere. He held up his arm to block out the sun. He glanced to the paper in his hand.

“Is this where you wanted?”

‘It’s up to you to find out,’ scrawled itself across the paper. He’d known that handwriting and that shade of violet for a while now. This was a ghost, guiding him.

He sighed, grabbing a flashlight from his bag. He stepped into the dark ruins.

 

“I don’t know what you need from this place,” he said.

‘You’ll know it when you see it,’ responded the paper.

“This is ridiculous.”

No response.

 

He walked on, ducking to avoid collapsed supports. At one point he’d walk straight into a spiderweb, and start flailing and coughing, rubbing at his face to get it off.

 

The paper had been right. A gear the size of a table was wedged into a rock, and Dean cautiously approached it. He set the flashlight down and put the paper in his pocket. He placed one foot on the rock, grabbed the gear with both his hands, and tugged.

 

When the gear came out of place, he fell backwards into the debris. He got up and picked the gear off the floor. He grabbed his flashlight and sat down to inspect it. He shown the light over it, revealing little wedges here and there on the side facing him. He tried rubbing the dust off of it, and the wedges revealed to be words.

 

He pulled out the paper again. “Do you remember this thing?”

‘Yes.’

“What is it.”

‘A keepsake.’

“From who?”

‘The gear was from a group of person. The message was by one, completely unrelated to them.’

 

He kept rubbing away the dirt and grime, revealing the whole message to himself.

Dean read aloud, “To my Agent- I cannot think of any award to give you for your devotion other than a thank you. Despite the bumps in the road you’ve come across, you’ve retained your title and your loyalty to Derse. This kingdom would never be the same if you hadn’t stuck around. Thank you. - The Black Queen.”

 

He looked it over again for a second, before attempting to stuff it in his backpack. Upon his success, he sat down to look at the paper again.

 

“You worked for BQ.”

‘Yes.’

“As an Agent?”

‘Believe it or not.’

“You’re human.”

‘I was recruited as a Dreamer.’

“Why?”

‘She saw potential in me.’

 

It faded after he read it, and a new line appeared.

 

‘I think she knew I would begin to corrupt.’

“You were a rebel,” Dean said.

‘Somewhat. I thought they had a point, but I saw no use in taking out the monarchies themselves.’

“They were too big and powerful.”

‘Exactly. The rebels never stood a chance, unless events changed.’

“Did they?”

‘No.’

“Care to explain?”

‘I am not going into detail about that branch off timeline.’

“Traumatizing, huh?”

‘I wouldn’t call it that.’

 

He looked up from the paper, beginning to trace his steps back to where he entered. “What about your daughter?” he asked, not looking down to the paper yet, until he found a spot to sit.

‘Miss her.’

“How’d you even get close to Mobius without being exiled?”

‘Mostly vagueness. Rarely lies.’

“Huh. Do you know where Saturn is now?”

‘No.’

“Are you concerned in the least?”

‘Yes. Very.’

“Is she alive?”

‘Yes.’

“.. What even is her power? She used it on me before, and I know she’s a Light player, so it’s gotta be something involving luck..”

‘She has the ability to increase others’ strength and magical ability, as well as give them a higher chance of winning a fight. As most do, the more she uses it, the more it gets more powerful.’

“Meaning if she gets old enough, she could make people immortal?”

‘She wouldn’t be able to live that long.’

“Can she use it on herself?”

‘No.’

“So that’s why Mobius wanted to keep her around?”

‘It was one of his reasons.’

 

He busted off the chest he was sitting on. “Huh,” he said quietly. He got off it, stuffed the paper back in his backpack pocket, and unlatched it.

‘I don’t think that’s a good idea,’ was scrawled onto the paper, but he didn’t see it.

 

The second he opened it, something inky black exploded out of the thing. He was knocked backwards, and when he looked up, he saw a miniature Horrorterror, looking down at him, obviously angry. Dean scrambled to his feet and bolted. The Horrorterror was at his tail, tentacles trying to grab him.

 

He took a wrong turn and had to slide into a gap, and suddenly he was met with bright sunlight again. He’d gotten outside. He turned back to see the Horrorterror attempting to squeeze through the gap, and he took this time to run up and to vault himself over the wall again.

 

Dean landed, sending dust and sand flying, visible in the dry desert air. For what felt like the millionth time, he bolted off into the vast wasteland.

 

This was his first hint of several, to a puzzle he wouldn’t know the name of for a long, long time.