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Feb 04 2018 -

The Journey is the Reward

t was a quiet and peaceful day. No chores were waiting for Snoopy Moony, and so she decided to make a little excursion to Ab'Dendriel. She enjoyed the calm atmosphere of the elven city, and even knew some of the inhabitants. Elathriel, for example. During her last visit, she even learned a new spell from the elf, and despite the grumpy attitude, she had felt a connection.

So once she got to Ab'Dendriel, she went to see Elathriel first. She saw a locked door on her way that she had not noticed before, and decided to ask about it. Ela sneered at her, and mockingly offered to sell her a key, assuming that she would not have enough money anyway. When she handed over the cash though, the elf looked bewildered, but gave it to her.

Excitedly, Snoopy pocketed the key, hopped away and left the speechless Elathriel with a cheerful Cheerio!

The key opened a way to a mysterious teleporter. Snoopy hesitated. Should she, or rather not? A dose of high jinks made her go forward. She swirled and still felt a rush of adrenalin when she came to halt on a platform. Apart from the usual teleport dizzyness, she immediately felt heat steaming towards her from lava she suddenly found herself surrounded by. She quickly grabbed the ladder in front of her and climbed up to escape.
Where am I?, she wondered. And in a second thought: How do I get back? She looked around, but did not see any return option.

A bit fearful and shaky, she held her wand tightly with both hands. One step after the other she slowly began moving forward in order to look for an exit.
After some time, though, her initial panic settled down and she walked more confidently. She climbed up and down several holes, easily defended herself against skeletons that crossed her path while she wandered through seemingly endless paths.
Again and again she crossed streams of lava which then reminded her not to lose her guard completely. This unknown area could easily become her grave. The solid bridges that led over the lava streams gave her hope, however. If somebody had built bridges down here, she had to be on a path that was actually in use - hopefully by nice people.

When she saw some rotworms, she rememberd an impressive report that she had read once, written by the famous Amaro. He had lived with these creatures for a while and had described them as really friendly, so she hesitated before she went on to kill them. So far, rotworms had been the only creatures she had seen on her path, though, that would qualify for food, so she decided to use her rod against them afterall. She did not know how long this journey would be, so it was only wise to fill her bags with as much meat as she could carry.

As she went on, she had to defend herself against ghouls, skeletons, more rotworms, carrion worms, and she even saw some bonelords. Nothing too scary, if she just had a plan on how to exit this underground tunnel system. She felt really lost. Not knowing how much time had passed, she merely hoped that the elves in Ab'Dendriel would find her ivory fang Truly Dooly and that they would feed her. Remembering her best friend, she had a lump in her throat. She damned her previous courage and curiosity and promised herself that if she would ever be in a similar situation again, she would not opt for the unknown.

Out of the corner of her eyes, she saw a set of stairs. Relieved and full of hope that this could be an exit, she ran towards them. However, when she found herself once again on a dark and muddy path, she felt all energy leave her body and her knees gave in. Worries and dark thoughts crept up on her as she was kneeling there on the floor. In an attempt to fight a breakdown, she gathered the last resources of strength and determinedly picked herself up to move on.

When she saw a slime on her way, she remembered helping Bozo create stink bombs from their odor. As more memories of these days came to her, she began to worry. She had heard that people close to dying remembered friends, past times and past adventures during their final hours. Maybe death was imminent. She even asked herself if maybe she was dead already and had ended up in hell.

Not knowing what else to do, she moved forward, even finding a bit of relief in her memories of Stonehome, and her good friend Spectulus in Edron. Suddenly she stumbled, and when she looked down, she saw a dragon skeleton on the ground. A sudden shot of adrenaline pulled her back into the present with her full attention. She was fully alarmed now. Dragons...? She did not know if she could survive such a fight.
Slowly and quietly she put one foot before the other, paying close attention to her surroundings. When she climed up another hole and landed among even more dragon skeletons, she was just shortly away from a full mode panic. I am so dead, she thought. However, after she managed to swallow some of her fear, she also noticed some bats, which ignited a spark of hope in her immediately. If there were bats, she had to be close to the surface. She wished so dearly for an exit.

And - indeed - after she went up one more hole, she inhaled fresh air... Well - almost fresh. Everything smelt really burnt! Looking at her surroundings, she found herself once again among several dragon skeletons. Confused and scared, she scouted the area. She seemed to be on an island, an island that is - or maybe was, home to many dragons. What had happened here?, she wondered... She sighed as she realised that her adventure was not over, yet.

Not too far away from where she had surfaced, she could make out castle walls and considered calling for help, but then decided not to. This place did not really appear welcoming.
Entering the castle became her immediate goal, but it was not as easy as she had hoped. She found a way in after a while, was greeted by a couple of skeletons and scorpions, and stood at the beginning of a labyrinth. The castle floor was covered with tons of bones. She had to kick them out of her way in order to be able to go forward. Among all this mess, she found a key.
Another key, she thought. What a cruel joke. She picked it up nevertheless, hoping that it would open some magical door that would bring her back home.

Exploring the labyrinth further, she actually found a locked door that the key belonged to. Since she seemed to be alone in here anyway, she decided to search this place thoroughly, wondering about what else she would find. When she removed the lids of some coffins, she was prepared to fight against fierce vampires. However, nothing happened. Instead, she found yet again another key.
Sure enough, she also found a door for this key, with a mysterious lever hidden behind it. So far, her curiosity had not been very helpful to her today... but, once again, she could not resist. She pulled the lever and immediately duck for cover. But, nothing happened. She shrugged, and turned around. She was not sure if her mind was playing a trick on her, but she had a feeling that the walls had moved.
When she found another lever and once again nothing noticable happened after she pulled it, she thought that something was odd. She went back to the first one to see if she could make out any connection. When she got there, there was yet another key on the floor. She pocketed it warily. Beneath her fear, this was beginning to feel like a treasure hunt. Part of her enjoyed that and she was curious where this path would lead her. In the back of her mind, she worried, though. Who had left all these keys here...?


The search for keys and doors became her dominant thought. She moved further inward and upward in this labyrinth. She fought against a couple of ghouls, skeletons and demon skeletons. Nothing she could not handle. When she suddenly stood in a treasure room she was certain that this was what she was supposed to find. She searched for a way to access the treasure, even saw another key walled-in, but she could not figure out how to get to it.
After what must have been hours of searching, all the desperation that she had forgotten flooded her emotionally. Exhausted, and finally unwilling to go on, she sank to the floor once again. She did not have any energy left. So this is the end, she thought. She was certain that she would die here. Her eyes filled with sadness as she rememberd Truly Dooly and all her friends back home. She sat there on the floor in a strange labyrinth on an unknown island and cried herself to sleep.

She woke up to a familiar voice. She was stunned and did not have a good grasp on reality, yet. Elathriel stood in front of her... Snoopy! I'm so relieved that I found you! When I saw Truly Dooly still in Ab'Dendriel hours after you had left, I was worried sick, so I decided to follow you! Are you alright?

Still being dumbfounded, she could not respond verbally, but she quickly put her arms around Elathriel's neck for the biggest hug that she had ever given. The elf led her to a plate on the ground and told her to simply stay there and wait for further instructions. She did everything as she was told, and together they were able to retrieve the walled-in key that Snoopy had seen before. Elathriel seemed to know his way around and lead the way without any hesitation. Snoopy slowly became aware of the fact that she was indeed being rescued and sensed that all would be well. In this state of relief, the treasure did not matter to her at all anymore. She simply followed the elf, who defended the two of them against any creatures that were in their way.

After a short while, she found herself in front of another teleporter. Trusting her savior, she jumped in, even though she had promised herself that she would never do that again. When she opened her eyes, she could hardly believe it. Finally, she was back in Ab'Dendriel!

Tears began running down her cheeks when she saw Truly Dooly waiting for her. She was so relieved to have made it back alive and that she did not have to test her skills against any dragons. She looked at Ela and when the elf motioned for her to go on, she mounted Truly Dooly to get back to Stonehome. Right then and there she decided that the next time she would visit Ab'Dendriel, she would smuggle some of Mirabell's delicious pies from Edron for Elathriel.

A lesson she learned from this adventure is that no treasure could ever be more valuable than a true friend who has your back if you need help! Still, questions occupied her mind for many days to come. What was this place? and Where was this place? and What happened to the dragons? Who owns the castle? and Who had hidden all these keys?

One day, she thought, she would gather a couple of friends and go back to find out more. She put a hand in her pocket to make sure that the initial key that she had bought from Elathriel was still there...



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