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RocketLord

Mazes and Minotaurs

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GM

 

August 21st, 2019

5:45 PM

 

Wharton State Forest

 

It had sprung up seemingly over night. A labyrinth, in the middle of Wharton State Forest, with pathways made from bushes and trees, the kind that it would take years to grow into place. But well, this place? The entrance was a big, with a large arch made out of the same bushes and trees and interlocking leaves as the rest of the maze. Large letters in a cream white color, in a vaguely Greek font, spelled out "MAZES AND MINOTAURS" at the top of the arch. 

 

A lot of people had gathered, some had entered, a lot of people just standing around outside. It was a strange thing, sure, but this was Freedom City, so it wasn't that strange, was it now?

 

On the other hand, one Moira Morley had received an invite. A letter that had arrived at Morley's Pub, adressed to her, with golden letters on the front. It read:

 

"COME FOR ADVENTURE AND FUN, AT THE BRAND NEW MAZES AND MINOTAURS! SPECIAL EVENT, JUST FOR YOU!"

 

Could she pass that up? Maybe, maybe not.

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Moira was to be helping out around the pub where needed. The wait staff was not overwhelmed. Sean was tending the bar. She was hosting. Making sure everyone was topped off and taken care of. Then again, it was the middle of the week. Nothing too crazy. Stopping to talk to the regulars. She was going to get in a game of pool, but the letter arrived as she and the group were walking over to the tables.

 

"Fancy," she said, looking at the envelope. Opening it revealed an actual engraved invitation. She was actually impressed. She chuckled at the thought though. "Mazes and Minotaurs, sounds like one of those sit down dice games." Was it urgent? It didn't have a date or a respond time. But hey, she could check it out before things got crazy busy.

 

"Just for you," she tsked, looking over to the people she was about to enjoy another game with, "you guys wanna come? Maybe we'll meet the actual bull of Minos." They laughed, and a couple of them took the offer.

 

***

 

When they got to the destination, they all were awed by the sight of an actual maze. Moira looked at the other people around. "Just for you," she quoted the invitation with derision and rolled eyes. Her guests stuck close to her, as this was Wharton forest. And strange things did happen out here. But Moira was unafraid. If Asterion was in there, she was going to have words, strong words, and questions.

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GM

 

Joey Grant whistled at the sight as he placed his hands on his hips, looking up at the thing. He wore a pair of cargo shorts, sandals, a long-sleeved white t-shirt with an unbottened red and green plaid dress shirt over it. His blonde hair was shaved on the sides with just a small faux hawk on top. He tended to be a bit obnoxious, but he wasn't exactly a bad guy. "That's something, huh?" He rubbed his cheek and looked over at Moira, echoing her words. "Yep, just for you, sweetheart." 

 

The other, Valeria Bourne, though she prefered just being called Val, was a bit more hesitating. "Its weird, isn't it? I mean, this is Freedom and all, and the Wharton Forest, but, c'mon, mazes like this doesn't just spring up out of nowhere." She shook her head. She had brunette hair tied into a ponytail that reached to around her shoulders. She wore a bright yellow shirt with a big red circle at the center of the chest, and a pair of jeans. Still, she liked a challenge. She wasn't about to back out just yet.

 

"Well, what are you waiting for, Morley?" Joey piped up, crossing his arms. "It was just for you, right? Lead the way."

 

Inside the maze, it would not be many steps before it split into three directions. Forward, left and right. Three paths to choose, there directions it could lead, between the leaves and branches.

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Joey and Val were some of the new regulars. Moira enjoyed hanging out with them, for the energy they put out at least. Who else would have said yes to this kind of proposition? Moira was kind of the field leader for this little trip, as Joey pointed out. She hoped she hadn't gotten the two in over their heads. "Sure thing," she said happily, heading towards the structure, "just stay close. While I'm good, I'm only one person."

 

When they got inside it was pretty much what she expected. "So, a little trick I've learned," she said touching the wall to the left of them, "is that if you follow the outside walls of a maze, you'll eventually find the exit." She looked at her guests, "but we can roam around for a bit. Aimlessly." She turned to the forward hallway, beckoning the two to follow her as she walked into the unknown.

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GM

 

"Or just keep a hand on one wall, keep turning the same direction everywhere you go. That's basic, Morley." Joey was shaking his head with a grin, but gestured at her to go on. Val just stuck out her tongue at him, then walked after Moira, leaving Joey behind for a moment before he followed.

 

Going down the forward path, the group were met with more leaves. A bit further down the path, it split in two, going left and right. Not too many options here. As they walked, Val traced her fingers across the right side of the wooden walls. "Its weird. You'd expect to be able to see something through these walls, right? But this is just so thick, can't make out anything on the other side at all." She shook her head, letting go of the wall and pointed forward. "So, what's next, fearless leader?"

 

As they reached the end, they could see that both paths would soon after turn right, no matter which they took. Down the right path, they could see some shadows cast on the wooden wall. Two figures watching, while a third frantically moved their arms around. Down the left path, they could hear voices. Laughter.

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Moira placed her hand on the wall and walked forwards, as Joey mentioned it. She smiled and nodded, "sometimes the basics get you home." Listening to Val chatter, Moira pressed her hand against the wall, just to see if it was pliable. When the girl asked where they were going, she stopped. Where were they going? "This way, that way. Anywhere but here," she laughed.

 

When they saw the supposed party, Moira couldn't help but wonder if this was just a trap. Seeing as this was so early. "Just for you," she muttered under her breath. Still, she couldn't let on to her guests that she was second guessing bringing them. She was a hostess. "Hey, check that out," she pointed, taking a couple of steps forward to the perceived revel. "Maybe we can get some directions," she said with with a facetious grin.

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Posted (edited)

GM

 

There was laughter, there was revelling. As the group rounded the corner, they reached an open area, roughly 30 by 30 feet. A long, wooden table was placed in the middle of the area, with men and women gathered around it. There were food and drinks on the table. Wine seemed to flow freely from a pair of wooden barrels placed on another table nearby. The food looked delicious. A large turkey, a pig with an apple in the mouth. Pies, pasta, roasted potatoes. Cakes. Whatever the heart desired, it seemed.

 

A blonde woman turned to the group as they approached, waving at them. "Heeey! Come and join us! All this food was just here, no reason to let it go to waste, right?"

 

Joey quickly moved forward, shooting a big grin at Val and Moira. "Well, she got a point there, right?"

Edited by RocketLord

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Oh this looked familiar. It almost reminded her of this one time on Olympus. Except less bawdy and a lot smaller. Joey was right though, a party is a party. And there were plenty of things to see and do here. She looked to Val, taking her hand, "how about we go get acquainted with whoever we want," before pulling her along. Though she and Joey slipped out of sight and mind when Moira got to the tables.

 

Technically, Moira did not need sustenance like mortal people did. But food and drink were some of the many favorite things in her life. Good company too! She mingled among the revelers, knocking back drinks and telling tales of heroic deeds. Man, this stuff was tasty. She'd have to find who made it.

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GM

 

Val and Joey moved around the tables, drinking, laughing, eating, chatting. Doing whatever they felt like at the moment. 

 

A tall woman, towering a foot or two above Moira, appeared from out of nowhere, throwing an arm around her shoulder, quickly showing a cup filled with deep red wine into her hand. The woman was stunning, to put it mildly, with long, brown hair tied into a braid that reached about halfway down her back. She was dressed in a white tank top and white shorts. A very loose white tank top and very short shorts at that. Her eyes were deep brown, almost black, but not quite. Her features were vaguely Greek. "Come now, have a drink, have fun with us! No need to rush on!"

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Moira's perspective was kind of skewed in this crowd, but the giant of a lady sneaking up on her? Well, maybe the drinks were more than it let on to be. Still, she couldn't help but notice the woman's aesthetics. Getting distracted seemed to be the order of the day. She smiled, "<don't worry, I don't think anyone would rush out on you.>" Speaking in Greek, while not her native language, was something she picked up easy and became very fluent in while on Olympus.

 

The height difference didn't bother her, she worked with heroes and villains that made the woman look minuscule in comparison. Tanking one more drink, she took up the woman's offer to hang around. "<Hey,>" she continued, "<what's your story, love? What brings you to the yard?>"

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The women giggled. There was something ephemeral about her. Something fleeting. Her height, while not outright shifting, seemed to vary when Moira looked away, and then back. "<You speak Greek? That's so nice. I'm Chara.>" she replied in the same tongue, untangling herself from around Moira's neck to each for another cup, already filled with wine. "<I'm just having fun. This place seemed like it would be fun. Just look at everyone else here, all having fun!>" She gestured around at the people, all having fun, all eating, all drinking. Both Val and Joey were sitting at the tables now, revelling and laughing with strangers they had just met, almost like they were old friends.

 

"<See? This place is so much fun, isn't it, Moira?>"

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This was the kind of party that Moira loved. Everyone having enjoying themselves, having fun. The only thing that was out of place was possibly something in the drinks. She could not get a lock on Chara. But it didn't matter. The woman was amiable, and no one was getting hurt. She hadn't even lost Val and Joey. Then again, it would be hard to lose anyone in this room. It needed to be bigger, more grand, to match any of the festhalls of Olympus.

 

"<Yeah, fun,>" she said, with a grandstand, hopping up on a chair, addressing the room, "<this is the greatest start to an adventure ever. Right, guys?!>" Looking over to Chara, she raised her glass, "<to a bountiful life full of excitement,>" she toasted her favorite words.

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"What?" Val just looked absolutely confused, looking up at Moira, then turning to the person next to her. "Hey, what's she saying?" 

 

Chara smiled a somewhat motherly smile, crossing her arms under her chest as she looked up at Moira. "<The best toast of all!>" she laughed, before clasping her hands together in front of her.

 

From her new position at the top of the table, Moira would notice something else, however. Something that was maybe not quite as fun. Everyone but her and Chara were sitting, and there was something about their legs. Looking closer, she could see that they thick vines seemed to stretch from the wooden benches, holding everyone in place, even if they didn't seem to notice so themselves.

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Strange things were afoot at the small festhall. Moira could have let it pass on Chara's beauty alone. But then she noticed herself and Chara were the only actual people here. Not that she wouldn't have eaten the food, but she was pretty sure everything in this room but them were plant based. "Wait," she looked over to see Val and Joey, "aw crap."

 

Looking over to Chara, she furled her brow, "see, I knew something was up before I went in here. But I let it go." Dropping her cup, she put her hands on her hips, "they don't deserve this. If anything, what you want is me. Let them go." She meant Val and Joey, but if the other people were prisoners too, she would want them free too.

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Chara smiled sweetly, slowly moving her right hand up to her own cheek, resting her head on it. She tilted her head slightly, as she looked up at Moira. "<Come now, Moira. Is that any way to act?>" She gestured towards the table and the people. Despite Moira's outburst, they kept eating, drinking and laughing, even as the actual chatter, and reason for laughing, died out. Even Val and Joey, though they seemed to be struggling to stop, kept going.

 

"<They're having fun. That's all. Don't you think they should have fun, Moira? Do you want to take the joy away from these people?>" Her voice was as sweet as honey. "<Then, what would you give me in return, hmm?>"

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If Chara weren't endangering her friends, and possibly others, this deal would have been a lot sweeter. She'd, of course, deal with the plant woman herself, no problem. But no, the hot villains were almost always crazy. "Fun," she questioned, "yeah they're having fun. But what's fun if you don't have free will?" She glared from her position, "you're having fun, they're just your puppets."

 

Moira thought about the bargain with a scoff, "and now I'm negotiating for hostages? This started off so well, Chara." She knew where this was going. But she wasn't about to become this weirdo's puppet. "I have connections. Divine connections. Aphrodite, Ares, Apollo, Dionysus. What do you want?"

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GM

 

Chara let out a laugh at Moira's mention of connections. "<Oh, Moira. No, no. Why would I want anything like that?>" Her features were shifting. The path behind them were closing, they could only continue forward. "<I am just an obstacle. I need nothing of the sort. But...>" She raised her hand, pointing directly at Moira. Or rather, at Moira's wrist. 

 

"<But... that bracer. Now that is interesting. So golden, so shiny. So powerful. Give it to me, and you and your friends can go.>"

Edited by RocketLord

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"This, dear, is one of those choices I told you about," Aphrodite spoke to Moira through their connection, "Love makes those things hard. You can hand over the item that your family made for you, and is the only way you can contact them. Or you can save your friends. Ones you'll live with for the rest of their lives."

 

"Or you can jump off, and dropkick that crazy bitch in the face," Ares angrily chimed in, "See? There's always a third option."

 

They were both right, Moira scowled. Putting her hand on the golden bracer, she looked long and hard at Chara. It wasn't worth it to leave either. But fighting the giant woman would be fun. Also rash and foolhardy, like her birth father would have wanted. "Really? You want shinies," Moira shrugged, "I thought you were cooler than that, Chara. We could have had a lot more fun than that. But if you want it." She smirked, "molon labe."

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GM

 

Chara's smile froze on her lips. 

 

"Come on, Morley! Just give her the damn thing!" Val shouted from her seat. She was visibly struggling against the binding vines now. Joey was still caught in the revelry.

 

Chara, for her part, just shook her head. "That is not the game, Moira. That's not why he invited you here." Val whimpered while the vines tightened around her legs. Then they began moving up, surrounding all the party goers, slowly, but surely, beginning to squeeze them. "See? I have all the power here. Hand over the bracer, or pick up their pieces. Your call."

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They were right. She was not the one in charge here. Though Moira's silly little call to battle was genuine, it was Chara who held the lives of innocent people. Her friends. She wasn't sure if Chara knew what the bracer did. or what it meant to her, but she was dead set on getting it. Moira went quiet for a moment. There was no other answer than to sever her connection to her family.

 

Was it this easy? Did someone just have to threaten friends, love ones? She inhaled a little, looking to Chara. "Listen, I don't know what your deal is, but you have made the biggest mistake of your life," Moira's jovial tone was gone. She was dead serious. Reaching for the bracer, she stared holes in Chara. As it came off of her arm, a celestial yellow burst of energy shot out upwards to the ceiling, passing through it and further away. Moira didn't know what that meant, but she did know Chara was her enemy now. "Let them go. Let them all go," she said handing over the bracer.

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Chara almost beamed with joy, clapping her hands together in front of her and started tip-toeing over to Moira. She reached out for the bracer and took it in her hand, holding it up so that the sun that shone through the leaves above. It reflected in the gold. She didn't even seem to care about the burst of yellow energy, she was just interested in the shiny. "All mine." She fumbled with it a bit, trying to figure out how to put it on.

 

Behind her, the vines started slowly letting go of the party goers, with everyone jumping to their feet the moment they were free.

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Chara, for all the crazy she was, was truthful to her word. That did not make Moira any less pissed off. But she saved lives. Like heroes were supposed to do. At least Chara was oblivious.

 

Stepping down from the table, she approached Val and Joey. "I'm sorry, that should have never happened," she said clearing her voice, trying to come back to her regular old self, "if you guys want to leave now, I understand. This place, while fun, seems a bit dangerous." And it was true, she didn't want to get these two in anymore trouble, but her tone of voice belied that statement. "I'm going to stick around. Find out what's going down here."

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Val rubbed her legs as she stood, while Joey pointed to the way back. "Yeah, leaving sounds great, just one problem there." The entire path had been locked by a wall of branches and leaves. If they wanted to continue, they had to go forward. Many of the other people were looking to Moira, obviously looking for answers of what to do, but some had started running ahead into the labyrinth, all on their own. All in all, three people had run ahead, and five had stayed, putting Moira in charge of a little group of seven now.

 

Val grimaced at the sight. "That &#%@. What the hell is that arm thing anyway? Why's it so important to her?" 

 

Chara was struggling. The "arm thing" obviously didn't want to fit properly on her. Almost there. Or maybe not. "What is it with this dumb bracer? He promised it would work for me!" She seemed oblivious to the world around her. Almost desperate to put the bracer on.

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Moira, in her brazenness, did not notice that they were actually all locked in here. A curse crossed her lips a little bit before a smile did. Chara did know the score, but didn't have the points. "Everyone," she said hopping back on the table, "what you're about to witness here might not be for the squeamish." She ushered them away motioning  with her hands to move back. "Though if you're the picture and video type, well, welcome to the spectacle!"

 

She turned to see Chara fumbling around with a piece of her heart and soul An heirloom given to her by her family. She pointed at her, "only works for the real deals. Unless you got some Olympian blood in you it's little more than a sentimental piece of jewelry that belongs to me!" With that she did what her father demanded. Flying feet forward at Chara's head.

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"Olympian blood?" Chara looked up, just in time to witness Moira's feet colliding with her face. There was crunching sound, like branches being broken, and she dropped the bracer as she stumbled a step to to the side, grabbing onto her face, trying to stop the world from spinning.

 

"WOAH!" Joey was the first to shout, while pumping his fist. "That was awesome! Go get her, Morley! Show them what you're made of!" Val, for her part, had done as Moira had saked, and pulled out her phone. She seemed more concerned about what was going on than Joey did, but she wanted to catch this for posterity. 

 

Chara stumbled. Her body made some more cracking noises, but she was still standing.

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