The Relic: Part Four (Vote Your Adventure)

This is the fourth part of an adventure series where YOU determine the next step in the story. Read part one, part two, and part three.

You decide you’re better off against the flying demon. You turn around for one last peek down the hall and see a large black hand with elongated fingers snake out from the corner. Its nails are bone-white razors. They dig into the wall, drawing deep crevices into the plaster. A deep voice rumbles over you, a mixture of a growl and a low hum. The ancient words cause the hair on the back of your neck to stand on end.

You slam the door shut. Using the paintbrush in your pocket, you sketch the protection symbol on the door. Then you drop to your knees and mash your paintbrush into the carpet, trying to obscure the pentagram. You target the points of the star but can only blot out half before running out of paint.

The sounds of movement are getting louder and the floor vibrates. The primeval voices now come from both directions. You think they’re calling to each other.

You grab the hammer from your belt and shove the paint can off to the side. As you turn to stand, a glimmer of gold catches your eye. You stop and look. Nailed to the wall is a massive, sturdy metal frame with plywood for shelves and backing. The metallic glimmer you saw was a metal fragment jammed behind the plywood. You slip the claw of your hammer under the side of the frame. The nails struggle a little, but you’re able to separate the frame from the wall.

The small metal chunk was probably part of a decorative sculpture. It’s ornately painted in gold and blue. One end is jagged as if it were snapped off. As you reach for it, you catch a glimpse of something large on the wall. It looks like a wood panel. You pull harder on the shelving.

It’s a door.

The footsteps are right outside the room now. The floor shakes and you hear a low, raspy sound, something you can only guess is a victory cry.

You hustle to your feet. You don’t have a spare second to stash the metal fragment in a pocket. You hold it in your free hand as you rip into the shelves with the claw. Fueled by adrenaline, you pull one side of the shelving loose, just enough for you to squeeze behind.

Out of the corner of your eye, you see the far door open. A dark figure towers in the doorway. It stoops to get through.

You slide behind the shelves. Your clothes catch on the nails and you scrape your hand as you smack the metal fragment down on the lever-style door handle. The door swings open freely and you slide through to freedom.

As you pull your hammer through the doorway into the next room, a hot, steel grip clamps down on your wrist and jerks you backward. You scream as you’re slammed against the door frame. A deep voice rumbles above you, close to your ear.

You whirl around. Looming over you is a tall humanoid creature, bent at the knees so it can fit in the room. Pale. Featureless. Its eyes are large, lidless black spheres. Streaks of pink and green swirl around in its eyes like pools of dirty oil. The demon’s wings fill the room behind it, black like the emptiness of space.

You thrash and jerk back as hard as you can, but you can’t get loose. The creature is making sure to stay clear of the hammer and its swinging symbol. Panicked, you slam the metal fragment down on the demon’s wrist. Smoke wafts from its skin on contact and you hear a sizzling sound like an acid burn. The creature screams. Its wings ripple. You scream, too, and slam the fragment down again. And again. The demon releases your wrist. You fling yourself backward and stumble over broken pieces of wooden furniture and bunched carpet. You get up and run.

You’re in the expansive, desolated sanctuary of a church. Stained glass murals stretch high above. The faces of the Saints, the Virgin, and the Christ Child are shattered and gone. Religious symbols are missing, probably taken when the remnants of the human race went underground.

You realize the room you just escaped from had once displayed the church’s holy emblems and its reliquary. The fragment must have been part of the reliquary. It’s still drawing holy energy from the relic it once contained, so the relic must be near. If you’re going to survive, you must find it.

You burst through the doors on the opposite side of the side of the sanctuary. Ahead, the hallway splits into a T. A sign indicates left for the priest’s quarters and right for the church library.

You hear a slam behind you. The demon has torn down the shelving. A low growl echoes off the walls. You tighten your grip on the hammer and run.

What do you do?

A: Search for the relic in the priest’s quarters
B: Search for the relic in the library

Vote in the comments or on Twitter. If voting via Twitter, be sure to add #therelic so I don’t miss it! Voting ends Tuesday night. The highest vote will be the next step in the story, posted on Fridays.

Image courtesy of Daniel Buxton, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

UPDATE: The voting is now closed. The priest’s quarters made an exciting resurgence and overcame the library. The next step in the story will be posted Friday. Many thanks for everyone’s participation! Continue reading “The Relic: Part Four (Vote Your Adventure)”

Steven Montano & His Blood Skies

I wanted to take a moment and share some exciting news. If you’re enjoying the Vote Your Adventure world, I’ve got something that will be right up your alley.

Say hello to Steven Montano, guys. Steven is a writer friend of mine. He has written a handful of articles for Wizards of the Coast, as well as a few adventures that were published by Dungeons and Dragons. The guy is very skilled at creating a unique world and keeping you on your toes. So here’s the part I’m excited about: In the next couple of weeks, he will be releasing his fiction debut, Blood Skies.

What is Blood Skies, you ask? It’s a post-apocalypse, military story… with vampires.

I know. The first time I read that, I got so excited I almost wet my pants.

To gear up for the Blood Skies release, Steven has been publishing a teaser series on his site, called Tales from a Blood Earth. They are short and free and if you’re enjoying The Relic, you will like this. The first one will pique your interest and the second one will hook you. Go and check them out:

Tales of a Blood Earth — Part 1
Tales of a Blood Earth — Part 2
Tales of a Blood Earth — Part 3

There’s a contest on his site right now to win a free copy of Blood Earth. If you don’t win that one, never fear because I will be giving away two copies of his book.

That’s right; I will personally purchase two copies and give them away to Vote Your Adventure fans. Since Steven and I are three time zones away, he is asleep while I am typing this out and haven’t had a chance to tell him that I am doing this. (Hey, Steven — I’m doing a giveaway for your book. Cool? Okay, then.)

Stay tuned for details. In the meantime, go check out his flash series, Tales of a Blood Earth.Continue reading “Steven Montano & His Blood Skies”

Part 3 Results: Scaredy Cats vs. Frightened Flyers

The results are in. The Relic Part 3 was the tightest race yet and the votes stacked up like this:

A (Cat Eye Demon): 15
B (Winged Demon): 12

This Friday, you will block the large demon with the cat-like eye and face the winged demon that has been following you from the start. Thank you for your votes!

I know a couple of folks prefer to cast their vote on Twitter and I’m starting to worry that some of the votes are getting lost. So, to my Twitter voters, please cast your vote by including #therelic. (I considered the #VOA hashtag but it’s filled with news from China.)

I know this is supposed to be my “professional” blog and I’m probably supposed to pretend I’m hot stuff, but I need to be uncool and say thank you. The support I’ve received in just three weeks is overwhelming. Reading the discussions on Twitter over who voted for what and why, and the hilarious comments with your votes each week…

Whether you are a silent partner who shows up every week to read the story or you’re someone who puts forth their vote: you make this fun for me and I am truly grateful. I’m glad I can hide behind my computer right now because I’m getting a little choked up and I look ridiculous.

Here’s to many more exciting Vote Your Adventure stories where YOU decide what happens.

The Relic: Part Three (Vote Your Adventure)

Paint can

This is the third part of an adventure series where YOU determine the next step in the story. Read part one and part two.

You turn right and start down the hall. The air is rancid. Patches of dried blood crunch beneath your feet and each step makes your skin crawl. More doors line the right side, marked with bloody handprints and black occult symbols identical to the one on the window. You put your ear against a door and hear wind and the frenetic sound of wings passing back and forth.

It is looking for you.

Fifty paces from where you started, the signs of violence increase. Blood is thicker, smears on the wall are darker, and lying against the wall is a dismembered arm. You force yourself to ignore it and glance back over your shoulder. From here, all the doors look alike and disappear into darkness.

Ahead, the hallway breaks off to the left. You press yourself against the wall and inch toward the passage. The blood no longer crunches beneath your boots. It is so thick that it supports your weight. You raise your hammer, hug the paint can tightly to your body, and slowly lean your head out.

Ten feet in, a mishmash of wood and steel has been carefully piled to the ceiling. A large piece of particle board bearing the protective symbol leans against the front.

The look of the barrier bothers you. For one thing, some of the metal looks welded together. For another, someone planted a stop sign in the middle. The longer you look, the more you feel you’re being manipulated in a certain direction.

You walk up to the barrier and tug on a few pieces. You are certain it will hold your weight. You set the paint can on the floor and secure the hammer in your belt. You climb.

The top of the pile is mostly loose. You carefully move pieces around to get a better view and pull yourself up to look.

The other side is dark and you can just make out the form of something huge. It makes a sliding, scraping sound. You start to back away, quickly and quietly. As you descend, a cat-like eye as big as your head moves into the light and fixes you with a piercing stare.

Terrified, you let out a shout. Your feet slip. You grab for anything that would slow your fall. You land on the particle board, cracking it through the center and splitting the symbol in two. Your hip hurts like hell from the impact.

The barrier lurches and a deafening slam erupts around you. A few of the boards snap and the entire structure groans. Another slam, stronger now. The barrier starts to give way.

You grab the paint can, jump to your feet, and run. The bloody doors and the remains on the floor are a blur. You dash through a doorway. Your feet skid over a pentagram and you come to a dead halt. Your blood runs cold. Crossing a pentagram will beckon the demons to you.

You’re in a rectangular room with vaulted ceilings. The violence in the hallway reached its pinnacle in here. Blood is splattered everywhere and bullet holes dot every surface. To the left, a set of shelves and boards are haphazardly nailed into the wall. They seem a little out of place. To the right, small enclaves are set into the wall. You guess they once displayed art and sculpture. Fore and aft are matching single doors. The door across from you is closed. Pentagrams have been painted on the floor in front of both single doors.

You hear a low hum and the sound of rushing wings overhead. The demon outside heard your movements. You hear a violent series of tearing and slamming sounds up ahead, just beyond the closed single door. It is inside the building.

From behind you hear one final slam and you know the demon you just saw is finally through the barrier.

They’re coming at you from opposite ends. To protect yourself, you know you must obscure the pentagrams and place protective wards on the doors.

You grab the screwdriver from your pocket and open the paint can. Your heart skips a beat. There is very little paint left. You only have enough for one.

What do you do?

A: Stop the demon with the cat-like eye behind you.
B: Stop the flying demon in front of you.

Vote in the comments or on Twitter. Voting ends Tuesday night. The highest vote will be the next step in the story, posted on Fridays.

UPDATE: The voting is now closed. The scaredy-cats have the vote by a very slim margin. The next step in the story will be posted Friday. Many thanks for everyone’s participation.Continue reading “The Relic: Part Three (Vote Your Adventure)”

The Relic: Part Two (Vote Your Adventure)

Rusty Hammer

This is the second part of an adventure series where YOU determine the next step in the story. Read part one.

You stagger to your feet and the room spins. So does your stomach. As your body expels breakfast and blood onto the floor, you know something is very wrong. You crouch over your own vomit, hands on your knees, sweating and breathing heavily. You focus on the pink splatters of protein shake swirling around your boots. Even though you inhaled it this morning in the mess hall, you knew it tasted funny. Now you know you were drugged.

You wipe your mouth with the back of your hand and stand up straight. Your eyes lock on the workbench and you cross the room in three steps.

The bench has been repeatedly ransacked and the tools left behind are subpar for a maintenance shed, much less an armory. In a dirty pile you see a rusted hammer and various screwdrivers and wrenches, all heavy-duty. You grab the hammer and give it a swing. The balance is good and the claw is at least menacing. It will have to do.

You use the hammer to sift through the dirt. In the back right corner, the claw catches on something large under a tarp. You reach for it and pull it out. It’s a flak jacket just like yours. Blood is caked everywhere and obscures half of the name tag. You scratch off some of the blood. Zuniga. You don’t know a Zuniga. You pull off the name tag and slip it into your pocket. If you find your way back to base, you can report the missing soldier.

By moving the jacket you uncovered a few other items: a quart-sized paint can and brush, a small flat head screwdriver, and a full 9mm clip. No gun. Nearby is a thin chain. Instead of dog tags, it bears a crude symbol made of twisted paper clips. You lean closer for a better look. Three, possibly four religious symbols have been combined into one. You work on tangling the chain around the head of the hammer.

As you finish, a deafening boom fills your ears. The walls shake. Dirt showers from the ceiling. Terrified, you grab the hammer and whirl around. Another slam erupts from the right side of the room. A light fixture smashes to the floor just a foot away. Another slam now, from the left side. In the pause between, you hear wings.

You’re being flushed out.

Doesn’t matter. You’re done here anyway. You pocket the clip, the small screwdriver, and the paint brush, and scoop the paint can into your arm. You run to the blood-splattered interior door. Raising the hammer, you open the door and rush outside. The door closes softly behind you, barely dampening the noise.

You’re in a narrow hallway with thick gray carpet. To your right, the hallway is long and you see a light at the end. Blood covers the wall and cakes the carpet all the way down. To your left, the hallway is dark but may be just as long. It appears thoroughly clean. Directly across from you, on the wall, someone has left a message in blood.

“And when the thousand years are expired, the Beast shall be loosed from his prison.”

What do you do?

A: Take the bloody hall to your right.
B: Take the dark hall to your left.

Vote in the comments or on Twitter. Voting ends Tuesday night. The highest vote will be the next step in the story, posted on Fridays.

Image courtesy of Sam Ley.

UPDATE: The voting is now closed. The A’s have it. A final count has been added in the comment section, in case you’re curious. The next step in the story will be posted Friday. Many thanks for everyone’s participation.Continue reading “The Relic: Part Two (Vote Your Adventure)”