Okay, so I've had this idea stuck in my head for a long time about making a medieval retelling of the Ben Drowned series (I think that's the proper name for the series, correct me if I'm wrong). After endless attempts at trying to start it off, I just managed to get a good idea at one time and started writing it. I knew that if I stopped I'd probably never be able to get the idea right in my head again (if that makes sense). So what you see before you is what happens when you try to write a whole story in one go. About 4000 words for the story, and about five hours wasted making it. I started writing this at eight pm, and right now, as I'm finishing it up, it's past one in the morning. .; Oh boy, am I glad it's the weekend right now. Anyways, enjoy! P.S If you can't understand the description of the game, it's okay. I couldn't really figure out how to match an N64 game to something medieval, and so this is what turned up. You can ignore it and come up with something else if you'd like.
The forest conceals much from the outside world. Gnarled, overgrown trees are everywhere, lining the few barely-travelled paths, waiting to snare the clothing of innocent passerby's and hold them captive in their twisted branches, if only for a little while.
Yes, there were ways through the forest that were mainly safe, broad enough to let two whole carriages pass by each other, and so well-used that in the daytime it was impossible to walk down it without running into another person, or three. And so many people stuck to these paths, content to go through the same routes over and over, never wondering what could lie down those old paths.
There were also many stories told about the forest, some humorous, like the tribes of cats who would perform remarkable feats of hilarity, and the legendary 'derps'. But some stories were of blood-chilling terror, and these chronicles would mostly concern the run-down lanes, making nearly all good people fear them, with the exception of a few fear-seekers who would rush down these paths, with a range of results.
Rumours of tall, pale men that ensnared children, and dogs who smiled with the bright, unnatural teeth of men were common. But even amidst all these accounts, there was one that was spoken of in hushed whispers. One of a demon that had stolen across the wide reach of the forest...
The horse plodded slowly down the weed-covered path, it's large eyes flicking about nervously as its owner encouraged it further. It's ears turned in all directions as small crackles of twigs and rustlings of bushes could be heard all around them in the night-time air. The trees had grown so tall in the area, that the starlit sky could not be seen, rays of moonlight filtering down. If one could read the animal's mind, it would surely be thinking: 'This is a bad, bad, idea.'
"Come on, you old thing, keep going! It's not that much further to the place the old men were talking about at the inn last night." Called the owner to its horse. The person riding was tall, with short, brown hair, and glasses perched on the end of her nose. A brown cloak was worn so that obscured her physical appearances apart from her face. A bow and quiver full of arrows were carried on her back. She nudged the horse with her heels to send it into a steady trot, leaning low to avoid the branches above, cursing when one managed to yank on the hood of the cloak.
After a few more minutes of journeying down the ancient way, the beast and human found a point where the path split into two. The rider looked down both, seeing no difference between them, and no sign to warn what could be down either one of them. Looking up, she spotted a large castle down one of them, and thought that at least this path would hold something interesting.
About to tell her steed to march down the path she had chosen, she heard a large cracking noise behind her. It was far too loud for it to be the normal sound of a fox or other small animal known in these parts running over a branch, and there were supposed to be no wolf packs down this way. A sense of dread and fear washed over her, as the presence of a large something was felt behind her, as if waiting for her to turn around.
Slowly, almost unsure of if it was wise to do so, she turned her steed to face what it was.
Obscured by shadows, it seemed a rather large person was there. Except that all the proportions of the man were thickened, to gain the appearance of a fairy-tale's troll, without the horns. Sickeningly green skin glistened in the moonlight, as small, white, beady eyes fixed her way.
She screamed at the same instant her horse let out a terrified whinny, and suddenly turned without warning to charge down the path that did not lead to the castle. Hanging on for grim life, she tried to stop the runaway horse, with little success. Branches whipped past her, causing cuts to her arms and face as well as her horse's flanks.
The minute that the horse spent stampeding in fear down the path where every shadow seemed to hold eyes watching them seemed to last an age. She did not know the exact moment the trail expanded into a wide, lit clearing filled with tents and people, nor the exact time her horse wore out its last reserves of strength in its frantic run, slowing down to gasp in air through its foam-covered muzzle.
Dazed, she stared wide-eyed around her, people staring straight back at her from amidst the campsite. The only thing she could do was to keep reiterating parts of what she had seen in broken sentences around gasps of oxygen.
"Green monster...horse panicked...so terrifying...said to 'get out'..."
The shock from the incident leaving her, her body felt numb as she slipped out of her saddle and onto the ground, blacking out along the way.
She awoke later to find herself by a campfire, her body sore from the ordeal. Sitting up, she realised that there were other people around the campfire as well, some looking curiously towards her, others wrapped up in conversation with others around them. She looked around the campsite some more, noting that there were many more tents than she had originally thought, and a lot more people too. Other campfires were blazing in different parts, people talking seriously around one, laughing and joking around another. There were horses tied by their leads to a solid beam, drinking from a trough. Her horse was one of them.
"W-where am I?" she asked the nearest person, who turned towards her.
"You're at the Within Hubris campsite." The person replied.
"Within Hubris?" The name sounded familiar, there was something about it that struck a chord in her. It took her but a moment to realise where she had heard it before.
"Ah!" she exclaimed. "I remember hearing about this at the inn last night, from the village elders! You're the people that believe a demon has invaded a forest!"
Several people shushed her at once, like she had said something taboo. Hugging her knees towards herself, she was silent. A moment of tense quiet passed, before someone spoke up.
"We don't just 'believe', we know."
"So there is a demon? How?" she enquired, not sure of what to believe.
The people looked at each other, questions being asked to each other through their silence.
"How do we know we can trust her?" One spoke out loud. "She could be one of his minion's, or one who wishes to lead us with false information for her own amusement!"
"I would do no such thing! I barely even know what's going on here in the first place!" She shouted back at the person.
"As do we all." A hushed agreement followed this statement, some even nodding their heads.
"So, just what is the tale behind your demon?" She inquired once more, her curiosity peaked.
One of them, a tall, imposing figure, stood to stir the fire with a stick, sending embers floating up into the air.
"Not that long ago," He began, his voice drawing the full attention of those in attendance. "there was a castle nearby that was owned by a lord named Jadusable. Jadusable was a good man, a young lord who worked diligently at his studies to help his peoples. He would shut himself up for days alone in his castle, working on papers. But also, he had a hobby in collecting games."
"Games?" she piped up, and was promptly shushed again by the group. "Sorry." She whispered.
"Yes, games, like those of chess or checkers that most know about. Except that Lord Jadusable would collect even the strangest and most ancient of games, and would play each and every one of them to pass the time away. He would often roam the land in search of such games, under disguise of course."
"One day, Jadusable came across an old hovel. Outside of it was an old man, whose appearance filled the lord with suspicion for no apparent reason, other than for being blind in one eye. The man appeared to be selling objects, and Jadusable, curious as to whether the old man might have something of interest to show him, asked if he had any games for sale."
"The old man disappeared into his house in search, as the lord perused his strange and eerie wares. As he looked up from them, the man reappeared in front of him, holding a box marked with the name: Majora's Mask."
Small murmurs started to come from the group, but they silenced when the man narrating looked around, commanding all to be silent, before he continued with his story.
"As luck would have it, Lord Jadusable had been searching for a game by this very name for quite some time. He tried to pay the old man, but he refused any offers, giving the game to him for free. As the lord jubilantly climbed into his steed's saddle, he heard the old man say something that sounded like 'goodbye, then'. It would not be till later that he would realise that the old man had said something else entirely."
"That night, the lord set up the game in his chambers. The game itself was like one of those warrior's games that the children play, where you select a wooden game piece and send it through dungeons that had already been made, along with pieces of paper containing dialogue and notes to be used at certain points. Only, in this game, there was a time limit, in which you had to stop a moon from plummeting into the land.
"Jadusable, as he looked over it, noticed that one of the main character's pieces had the name BEN carved into the base. It was then that he realised what the man had said. Unperturbed, he thought that BEN must have been his son or his grandson, one that had probably died, and proceeded to play the game."
"Slowly, he began to notice something odd about the game. Often, he would move his character to one place, leave to check on something else, and come back to find his piece having been swapped with BEN's piece for no apparent reason. Troubled by this, he came to the decision to throw BEN's piece into a fire blazing bright in the fireplace. And that is the point where his troubles began to worsen."
"Strange, disturbing things began to happen within the game. He would try to exit a dungeon, only to have his character being directed by the paper involved in this movement to some place it should not have told him to move to. The papers themselves seem to disappear and reappear in locations they normally weren't in, but with instructions for use there. The dialogue on them seemed to change as well, saying alarming things. Jadusable's piece would be killed in the game in the most unusual of ways, and would sometimes be found with deep scratching on it, as if from a knife. The other pieces that could be chosen for the main character would be found to have carvings appear on them, the first one being 'YOUR TURN'. But the most fearful thing of all was found in a piece that was to be used as nothing more than a still copy of the character that player chose, the piece known as the Elegy Statue."
Someone screamed at the mention of the name, others rushing to quiet her as she sobbed in fear. The narrator paused for a moment, before continuing.
"The piece would move of its own accord in the game, following Jadusable's piece, never far behind. Strange music could be heard from an unknown source whenever it appeared. When he decided to look at it, he found that on the bottom of it, BEN was carved into it."
"Fearful by this point, he shut the game up into its box and put it into storage. He then sent out messages to nearby towns, asking for advice on the matter at hand, which is how most of us came to know about his troubles."
"As we sent messages between ourselves and Jadusable, he heard whispering within his castle, that of a voice telling him to play the game once more. Over, and over, it would plead with him to play it, to grow more demanding and threatening the longer he held out against it. Unable to resist much longer, he hesitantly removed the game from its box, and resumed playing."
"The Elegy statue would always watch him as he played through whatever nightmare it had dreamed up for him, even if at times he did not know. Another piece, known as the Happy Mask Salesman, would appear too, but rarely, and always around the Elegy statue. They were engaged in a battle of wits through the game, with BEN clearly winning, as he murdered and butchered Jadusable's piece, gleeful all the while."
"At one time, Jadusable thought to try and do something that BEN would not expect of him. Although not skilled at any instrumental piece, he attempted to recreate the song that came of the Elegy statue's appearance on an instrument commonly known in this region as an Ocarina."
"Afterwards, BEN seemed to become enraged, and the whisperings returned in full force. It would repeat the line 'you shouldn't have done that' to him, as the nightmarish game got even worse. A piece turned up bearing 'DROWNED' on its base, giving a hint as to how the original Ben died. Letters that Jadusable himself had written about the game would have its contents changed and sent without his consent or knowledge."
"Then one day, all contact was lost. People who went to check on the castle, returned with news of it being empty of any and all life. Despite attempts to find Jadusable, or his remains if that was the case, no trace was found of him, except for a letter that appeared to all who had attempted to help Jadusable in one way or another."
"In it, the person who wrote it alleged he was a scholar and an acquaintance of Jadusable's, who had given him information to send to those involved. In it was an account of the last game the lord played with BEN, and a handwritten letter from Jadusable himself."
"Though the account of the last game had been especially nightmarish, it was the letter from Jadusable himself that held the most fear to those who read it. In it, he included his own personal notes about the times of the games and other information. From reading it, it was found that, in all his letters sent beforehand, no trace of a game where a piece was found to bear the name 'CHILDREN' on its base was found, but yet in his notes, he mentioned such a game, causing many to wonder why no mention was ever heard of it before. But also, in his notes, it was found that he had no scholars as friends, as he had always studied alone, and to be warned to be wary of any letter that came after a date that had only been a few days before the letter had arrived."
"As shock and fear spread amongst us, divided as we were then, another letter appeared. From BEN himself. All it contained was a few lines, but it was titled as 'free'. We set free BEN from Jadusable's castle by opening his letter, and he was mocking us."
The narrator stopped, his long tale seemingly finished. The girl, expecting more from this tale, waited, but he stoked the fire once more, and then sat back down in his earlier spot.
"Wait, that's it?" She spoke up, unable to bear with the unfulfilled ending.
"That is indeed the tale of the releasing of the demon." Said the man.
"But what about the demon?" Exasperated, she gushed forth with questions. "Was it ever found out what it really was? And why it haunted Jadusable in the first place, and now the forest? I mean, a story like that, and not even a hint of a hero to come defeat it later on?"
"Ah, but a hero did come to try and defeat it." A woman spoke up this time, causing silence once more through the collection of people. She stayed where she was, not choosing to stand like the narrator had before her.
"Alex was a hero from far away, who had come in search of great deeds to do. Upon learning of the demon that had invaded the forest, he came to do battle with BEN."
"Clad in the green uniform of a former hero before him, he hunted through this forest the minions of BEN. Some of us beared witness to his battles against them, and seeing him strike blows against them raised morale amongst us, giving us new hope in being able to defeat BEN once and for all."
"Even though Alex was struck down once, we helped him get back to his feet, and, unbeaten in spirit, he continued to fight for all he was worth, destroying BEN's minions wherever they appeared in the forest."
"But then one of BEN's most fierce minions tracked him down, the one that had defeated him once before, and struck at him while he was away from all forms of help. The sounds of this battle reached people's ears soon enough, but when they went to help, both Alex and BEN's evil minion were gone, never to be seen again."
Everyone seemed to lapse into a minute of respectful silence at the end of her tale, the woman herself holding her head down as if in prayer.
"I hope you aren't all forgetting about Ryukaki now."
This came from a young man on the opposite side of the fire, a slight southern accent colouring his words. The narrator from before snorted under his breath.
"How could we forget him, the fool who drew attention to himself?" He said.
"Hey now," replied the boy. "He was just like all of us, trying to fight back against BEN. It could have been anyone of us that got singled out like that."
"Who's Ryukaki?" The girl asked.
The young man grinned. "Glad you asked! He is, or was actually, the man whom the next part of the story involves."
"Ryukaki was a farmer from a village far, far away to the south. He had moved up here on having acquired a cheap piece of land on the edge of the forest, one that had a river running through the back of it, perfect for farming. It had been cheap due to superstition that had come from a boy who lived there dying sometime earlier. Ryukaki had also heard of the tale of BEN, the demon, and had been helping by conferring with others engaged in it as to how to defeat the demon."
"Upon moving into the house upon his newly-bought land, he began to notice strange things happening about his house. In the middle of the night, scratching and other noises could be heard, and his neighbours would report to him later of seeing two orbs of light, like eyes, moving through the house after he had fallen asleep. He would feel watched at all times, though never being able to pinpoint the source of this feeling."
"Through his letters, people realised that the land he had bought was probably connected to BEN the demon, due to the boy dying there earlier having drowned, like the carvings from the game pieces had said, and that his name was Ben."
"People also discovered that Ryukaki was trying to find more information on how to defeat BEN once and for all, and would spread the knowledge to the rest of us once he had found such. But then the men appeared."
"Yeah. You see, in trying to unveil some truth about BEN that could lead to his doom, Ryukaki had garnered the attention of a group of men, part of a cult, who followed him wherever he went, as if they were planning to do something to him. He tried to run from them, but he could not escape. Knowing his end was coming soon, he sent messages to everyone warning of the dangers that come from being divided in our work against BEN, urging us to work together."
"And that was the last we heard from him. Later on, we found his farmhouse empty, just like Jadusable's castle. And just like the castle, we left Ryukaki's home untouched, out of respect for those who had fallen."
"Aren't you forgetting something?" Called out an old man, his beard trimmed back to become a silver lining on his jaw. The boy looked confused, and shrugged in response.
"Not that I can think of."
"Really? You've actually forgotten about the Moon Children?"
The lad scratched the back of his head, caught out.
"Oh yeah, I forgot all about that!"
The old man rolled his eyes at the reaction he got, eliciting chuckles and laughs from everyone else. He took a deep breath, getting ready to launch into his part of the story.
"In our searches far and wide for the origins of BEN, we stumbled across the existence of a small cult, named the Moon Children. This comes before Ryukaki comes into the story." With that, he gave a pointed look to the boy, who chuckled nervously.
"These 'Moon Children' believed that their one goal in life was to be 'ascended' somehow. We do not know how they would do this, but mostly we believe that it involves being killed in some kind of ritual."
A shudder ran through the girl's spine upon hearing that.
"We found notes that had travelled between the members of the cult, and were able to find the real name of one of them who was named Matt Hubris. In talking to him, we discovered that the cult seemed to have nothing to do with the game that Jadusable had owned, which was surprising to say the least, considering their prophecies about the end of the world involve the moon, like the game's end if you did not finish it."
"During talking with Matt, he mentioned hearing knocking at his door at night, and that he would answer it the night he sent the message. We never heard from him again after that.
"We later managed to speak with his sister, Rosa, who confirmed that he was missing. And hinted at knowing more about the origins of BEN, or at least the person he had taken his name from. But then, she too vanished. Just when we learnt of Kelbris."
"Kelbris?" she asked, feeling something in her gut about the name.
"Before Rosa vanished, we learnt of a monster that knew about Matt's departure as well. Pictures were found of it, showing it to be a tall, human-like creature, with green skin and white eyes..."
"I saw him! He was on the trail, right where the path split!" The girl shouted.
A hushed silence followed her statement, people looking at her, stunned for a moment. The old man paused, and then talked once more.
"Did he do anything? Or say anything?"
"He came right up behind me, and waited for me to turn around, I think. And then he said 'Get out!' but in a really loud voice, and then he spooked my horse, and it charged straight down to here!" She paused for a second, thinking.
"If he hadn't done that, I would've gone right down to the castle. And maybe..." Her face paled as she realised what could have happened to her if she had managed to go into the castle, the very site that BEN had emerged from. And that nobody would have realised something bad had happened to her if anything had. The old man coughed, drawing her attention back from her thoughts.
"It is not new that Kelbris has appeared, and he has left massages for us before. Unfortunately, we do not have any proof of what side he may be on, and so, we cannot trust him, even if his actions may help others like you. He may even be behind the abductions of Matt, Ryukaki, and Rosa."
"Ryukaki himself was the one that spoke to Rosa just before she disappeared herself. He always said that he had gotten a codename and password from her, but never found out where to use them before he too vanished."
The quiet that came from the brief break in talking was welcomed, as it gave the girl a chance to think over what had happened to her tonight, and whether or not the tale about the demon was really fiction.
"And so, that is the end of the tale. At least, for now" said the old man.
"For now?" she inquired, curious as to what could be next.
"Aye, that's what we're all here for!" replied the boy, grinning.
"To make an ending to this story." Continued the first narrator.
"And to become heroes ourselves." Said the woman, smiling.
"We have come together in this place, to gather our knowledge with each other, to unite as one with all our power, and to polish our skills so that we can use them against him, and win." The old man stated.
"So, girl..." She turned to the woman who was now speaking to her. "What do you think of the story?"
She paused, unsure of what her answer should be. "I think... I think that there are just too many things that have happened for it to be just a story."
The man nodded and came to stand up next to her. "So what will your decision be then?"
"I have to make a decision?"
"We all came here one way or another after having either following alongside the tale since it began, or after having been told what has happened up to this point. But each and every one of us has made a decision after hearing about it to be involved in this tale, to fight until the very end." It was only now that she noticed how everyone around her seemed to have a weapon of some sort. Swords, maces, even a javelin. And there were even more weapons next to the tents, in the middle of being cleaned, armour of all kinds besides them. These people were prepared to go to war with something they knew very little about. And they were making it their aim to utterly defeat their opponent.
"So what will it be?" he continued. "Will you turn your back on this, and go back to your normal life, or will you choose to make a stand, and to fight in a battle that will be remembered for many years after?"
The girl was silent, moving to stand up herself. She looked at the people waiting on her answer, expectant looks on all their faces.
"I-I may not be as skilled with my weapon as most, nor may I have the skills needed to be of use to everyone." She said, her voice small as she began.
"My wisdom may be lacking, as well as my judgement." Her voice was picking up in confidence and volume as she continued.
"Despite all this, if you let me join and help, I will do my best to help put an end to the demon alongside you." She stated boldly at the end.
The man smiled, and clapped his hand over her shoulder.
"Looks like we have a new recruit then."
In the forest, just a little bit further from the edges of the Within Hubris campsite, a form of darkness seemed to watch the actions of the few that had been foolish enough to think they had a chance of defeating it. It watched for a while longer, before skulking off through the trees, back to the castle it had come from.
The battle will come soon enough, and when it does, they will be destroyed. Every single one of them.
And that's it! Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed making it. I might come and change it later though, cause I'm not sure it came out the way I wanted to. If you'd like, it would be a great help if you comment on the story, so I know what I'm doing right, what I'm doing wrong, etc, etc. Thanks for reading!