Thomas Sanders brushed his teeth, and armed warrior skeletons grinned back at him from the bathroom mirror. He dropped his dirty clothes in the laundry hamper, and they landed with the same slithery noise as the Vampire Lord's patagia collapsing after he killed it. The bedroom light flashed on and off like the artificial moon spell that controlled the werewolves. His bedsheets rustled in harmony with a swarm of demonic rats charging down a darkened corridor.
Man, that had been fun .
It had started with a simple idea: an all-day livestream event. Thomas and Joan had come up with a short list of possible activities for such an event and polled the viewers to decide which to use. “Real-time video game playthrough” had won by a landslide .
The game they had settled on, with heavy input from Talyn, was Stygia's Towers , a PC game in the horror-adventure genre with solidly mediocre reviews. The concept was derivative, the gameplay could be charitably described as “stripped-down Legend of Zelda,” and the enemy designs were stylistically inconsistent. (The graphics themselves, it was agreed, were pretty okay.) But it fulfilled two important requirements: it was horror- adventure , meaning it would be scary enough to put Thomas in an entertaining state of subcritical alarm without actually upsetting him too badly...and the average completion time for a first-time player was about six to seven hours—ideal for the planned event.
Also, the final boss was called the Dragon Lich. That alone might have been enough to tip his decision, it was such a fantastic and hilarious coincidence. He still chuckled, thinking about it. They'd had to look up what a lich actually was.
The final boss...
Thomas snuggled into his covers, getting comfortable, hoping sleep wouldn't be too long in coming. His mind was buzzing, reviewing the day. He'd rarely had such a blast doing a video project. Once they got past a few technical hiccups early on, the whole thing ran as smooth as cream cheese. Camden was settling into the team well, and Joan and Talyn had done a fantastic job of monitoring the viewer comment feed and passing along any remarks that were sufficiently funny, helpful, or just plain sweet. And Stygia's Towers , for being a C-list knockoff sort of game, had been pretty fun. That adventure word made all the difference—it meant that the player-character, instead of being a pathetic schmoe getting smacked around by the forces of darkness...was a reasonably competent, modestly powerful schmoe getting smacked around by the forces of darkness. On which subject, they had left the living room lights on for this one, so, y'know.
It had been so much fun that he had let the event run late and then ordered pizza for the team after they finally signed off. He would have to make sure to clean up the boxes and napkins first thing in the morning, but for now...
Dang , that had been great. Thomas was already thinking about doing another at some point.
If only that final boss hadn't been such a pain...
I'm going to dream about that game all night, aren't I...? He thought.
Virgil started awake, feeling rough stone underneath him instead of his memory foam mattress. He lurched up into a sitting position and looked around himself with jerky motions, all sensors on high alert. After a moment, the alarm subsided into a more familiar level of general unease.
Everything was gray stone, grim skies, creeping threads of fog, uncanny wailing sounds just on the edge of hearing...and that subtle, impossible-to-describe feeling that let him know exactly where he was.
He'd been pulled into Thomas's dreamscape. Again.
“Dammit, Roman...” Virgil muttered. He did a quick-change from his pajamas to his usual daytime outfit, heaved to his feet, and stomped off in search of the one whose fault this definitely was.