Inheritance of Light VI

Mario will continue with Kenny and Brad on the quest to find Jim, the lost centaur. Feared to be kidnapped by the flesh eating, soul sucking Tablukan, Jim is believed to be in the Caves of Sorrow past the Sky Kissed Mountains. The fantasy adventure continues with this installment of Inheritance of Light, an interactive story in which the readers make the plot decisions.

The votes have been counted and Mario has met someone surprising in the jungle. The man from deep within the soil is his father.

Mario closed his mouth to keep the moist earth from entering it and choking him completely. As it was, he was trying to breathe because his body couldn’t stop. His autonomic nervous system kept his heart pumping and his lungs contracting, struggling for air. He was being pulled down through layers and layers of dirt. Mario was thinking that this was where his body check systems would overload, snapping him out of the game and back into the skank.

Underleaf.

Mario heard the voice in his mind again. He coded for air, but nothing happened. The earth was all around him but did not push against him. There was no crushing pressure. He made himself calm as he used to as a child when the gang rats would try to find him amongst the refuse in the alleys of SIM in Seoul.

He held his breath as if he was underwater. The earth all around him loosened, becoming like sand. He slid down into a small passage like a smooth rocky funnel. Mario fell about ten feet onto a small grassy area in the center of a cave. Around him flew animals with phosphorescent skins and large colorful wings. Along the walls there grew moss and quirky fungi that gave off their own strange luminescence. The cavern was beautiful.

In its center was a pond, and next to it was a small stone hut. It seemed to be deserted.

Mario wiped the dirt out of his eyes and scooped it out of his ears. He shook his hair with his hands and stood. His neurowhip was at his side and ready for action. Where was the Underleaf being, Mario wondered.

I am here.

The voice was in his head and all around him simultaneously. Mario looked around the cavern. The animals caressed his arms with their silky wings as they flew by, but posed no threat.

“What are you?” said Mario.

I came before you and will continue with you until you have joined me in the silence of the ground.

“Are you death?” asked the coder struggling to comprehend the situation. Had the tricksters taken his life? Was this the afterlife? He could have flatlined in the game. Mario knew that it had happened to others.

I am living. I am life. Underleaf. I am here to grant you a favor.

“In return for what?” asked Mario.

I do not need anything. You are special to me for reasons that I do not need to share with you at this time. I merely wish to aid you in your journey through the Wildy Jungle.

“Where are Kenny and Brad?” Mario asked, but he suddenly knew the answer. He walked to the small hut. Inside was a mat of hay where Kenny lay sleeping peacefully. Next to him was a cot high off the floor where Brad slept. They were inhaling and exhaling as if they had not slept in months. Mario tried to wake them, but could not.

They will not wake until it is time. The jungle above is dangerous at night. They need to rest. You do too, but before you do, give me your answer. Will you accept my help?

“If I say that I don’t trust you or want your help, I will be stuck down here with you, huh?” said Mario. “I will sleep forever with my friends.”

Young one. You will be returned to the jungle above.

“All right, I will accept your help. I will need to be moved to the waterfall with my friends,” said Mario.

It shall be. I am Underleaf.

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