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Chapter 2 - The Jungle


Thud Thud Thud… The sound of your feet hitting the ground is the only thing that you can focus on. One step at a time. You have walked for days, stopping only to eat and drink. But there, in the horizon, your eyes have been firmly set on your destination. You do not know why, but something inside of you is telling you that this is where you need to go. And now, after hours, and hours, and hours of walking, you’re finally standing in front of your goal - The Jungle

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You look up, and see the huge trees above you. From a distance, the jungle looked to be big, but not this big. As you take your first step into the jungle, you feel like an ant stepping into the realm of something - someone - much bigger than yourself. Into the unknown. The humid air instantly hits you, and the pleasant temperature and refreshing wind that you had grown used to during the past days of walking is now gone in an instant.

At first, you follow the same pathway that led you into the jungle - a path that many before you seems to have walked. But more and more, you see many small trails deviating from the one you are walking on. The company you felt before through the trace of past adventurers is soon replaced with a feeling of emptiness, as the jungle increasingly takes over the path before you. Without even noticing, you’re completely on your own - leading your own way into the jungle.

But then, a buzz is heard. Standing completely still and listening closely, it sounds to be more than just one buzz. You look around you to try to find the location of this mysterious sound, but nothing can be seen. The sound can still ever so slightly be heard, and by turning around slowly you try to locate the direction of its origin. You start walking slowly towards the sound, and you can hear it getting louder and louder - still without any visual cue.

 

And suddenly, it stops.

 

Confused, you look around, only to see yourself standing in a glade. There is no trace of the path you came from, and when you pull and rip in the vines forming the walls of your newfound location, they seem to have a life of their own, pushing you back with enough force to have you fall flat on your back. As you push yourself back up again, your eyes fall upon two stones standing on the opposite side of the glade. They look to be exactly the right height for a seat, and you sit down on the left one.

The instant you body touches the stone, the vines in front of you are withdrawn into the jungle, revealing two bushes, one in front of each stone.

 
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As you rise up to go closer to the bushes, you hear a voice coming from around, and inside you; with no trace of its owner:

 

“Hello traveler. You have a choice. A very simple choice. Pick and eat a blue berry, and you will instantly be transported out of this jungle, to the point of your entrance, and every memory of your visit here will be instantly forgotten. Pick a red berry, and the jungle will open up, revealing its secrets to you. Your choice, use it wisely.”

 

You need to make a choice. Which berry do you choose to eat?

83% choose to eat the red berry

You came here with a mission in mind. A jungle, some vines and some buzzing sounds won’t stop you from achieving that. You go to the left bush with its big red berries, rip one of its branch, and place it in your mouth.

 
 
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As the sweet juices of the berry slowly makes their way down your throat, the vegetation in front of you starts to deform, and where the two bushes stood a few seconds ago is now a doorway.

You now hear the buzz again, much louder than before, and as you look around, insects are starting to appear. From the ground, bushes, trees, and some even seeming to appear out of thin air, they start flowing into the doorway that stands before you. You start sprinting to catch up with the trail of insects in front of you. They keep buzzing past you, but not once do they hit the back of your head or body. This deep into the jungle, it has started to get dark, but the light of the large sections of bioluminescent insects are guiding your way. You keep running, jumping over rocks, sliding under trunks, and the trail of insects keeps going towards their goal.

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And soon enough, their goal can be seen. You spot a faint light in the distance, and as you get closer, it gets brighter and brighter. The insects now start to disperse, and you’re left on your own, slowly walking towards the light. As you get closer, you can see that the light is coming from an identical doorway to that in which you came in through, and you can hear faint voices coming from the glade that it leads into.

The bright light from outside the door makes it impossible to look into the glade, as looking into it blinds your eyes.

You need to make a choice. Do you head into the light towards the voices, or do you sneak around to try to take a look?

71% choose to step right into the light

Standing for a moment to think, you decide that this is nothing to be afraid of. Or well, not any more afraid than the situation you are already in. You do not know of any way out, and sneaking around won’t be of any help, so you take a deep breath and step out into the light.

It takes a few seconds for your eyes to adjust, but when they finally do, you see a huge table in the middle of the small clearing. And around that table, 8 creatures sit. On the right side, 4 old orks with blue markings, and patterns on their skin. They are numbered on top of their head - one blue dot on the first, two on the second, three on the third, and four on the fourth. To the left, 4 younger orks sit, with clearer skin, but identical markings as the blue ones - with red face painting, and marks from 1 to 4 with red dots on top of their bald heads.

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“We have been expecting you, young shepherd”

 

The same voice that you heard before in the first glade can be heard, but when looking at the orks in front of you, none are looking back at you. One by one, from the left to the right, they look up until they are all facing you. With a deep voice, as old as the jungle itself, the oldest ork, standing in the middle of the gathering starts to speak again:

“We are the council. We have been on this island as long as time can remember. Long before the people arrived. For a long time after they arrived here, they all lived in peace, farming the lands, taking care of the nature and animals, and with kindness and joy helped the whole island thrive.

But then came the pirates.

With their ships, their warriors and their wizards, they have enslaved this whole island. At this very moment, the king could send his army to stop them with a wave of his hand, but he is corrupted by the magic of the pirate wizards. And you, young shepherd, have been sent here to stop it.”

You look at the council with a confused expression. You, who have done nothing but care for your herd since the day you were born - what could you do to stop this vile group?

“We know, you might not feel like you are right for the task, but there you are wrong, young one. This staff has been passed down many generations to only the mightiest of warriors, and it is now yours to own. Only a creature with a pure heart can wield it to use its power, and you are the purest in all the realm. If you can get to the king, past his guards, he can get saved from the pirates corruption.

We have seen that all your beloved creatures are alive and well, but they are held captive by the pirates, who have planned to have a huge feast at the end of their currect conquest. Right now, the herd is being fed and treated good, but that will change within a few months. But with the help of the king, you have a chance to stop them!”

 

He reaches out his huge wrinkled hand and places the small staff on the stone table. It looks to be a normal shepherds staff, made out of a single branch of a dark - almost black - tree. All bark on the staff looks to have been worn off from centuries of use, and you can hear a very faint sound coming from it - like a breeze flowing through the leaves of a forest on a calm day.

 
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“So what do you say, young one, are you up to the task?”

 

You need to make a choice - do you accept or refuse the Councils gift and task?

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