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Follow the Squirrels -- Abridged

Introduction

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to foil the schemes of criminals like the duo of Goldenessa and Black Deva? Well now's your chance to put your skills to the test! Put yourself in the shoes of Polyraisa in this choose-your-own adventure story and see if you have what it takes! Will you succeed in stopping the scoundrels? Or will they evade your attempts and get away with their prize? There's only one way to find out!

Characters

Player Character
Polyraisa is a heroine gifted with all eight enmanities, but cursed to constantly cycle through them at random. Fate decides which enmanity she wields at any given time.
Antagonist
Goldenessa is the most polite and proper lady who will ever rob you blind. She'll Persuade you to hand over your valuables and then thank you for your time. Turn around and she's Commanded an army of passerby to do her bidding.
Antagonist
Dark Deva is a mysterious man who speaks of demons and black magic and wields Power of Flux in addition to being visaurant. His familiars, two squirrels named Kesi and Kusa, are known to be trouble.

1.

Outside of the Nezumi Corporation Tower, you, Polyraisa, lie in wait. Rumor has it the corporation has come into some valuable relics, meaning the tower will be a target for thieves. Normally you wouldn’t get involved in these sorts of things–why stop one ne’er-do-well from stealing from another–but somewhere in the shipment is a special relic rumored to hold immense power if one knows how to unlock it. Your sources tell you Dark Deva has been seeking information about this relic, and if anyone can figure out how to unlock some kind of ancient power, it’s him. You’re not sure if you believe in this power, but on the off chance it’s real, Dark Deva is not someone you want to have it.   You watch as two familiar squirrels slip through a hole in the stone wall surrounding the tower and move to follow them. The hole is too small for you to fit through, but after some manipulation of the energy within the wall a few stones fall loose, opening just enough space for you to squeeze through.   You run to catch up with the long-tailed rodents. As they reach a bend in the path Kesi suddenly turns left off the path, heading toward a sloping section of the grounds. Kusa continues to follow the path leading into the gardens. You pause for a moment. One is sure to lead you to Dark Deva. The other? Hard to know. You don’t know Dark Deva’s plans here. So who do you follow?  
Follow Kesi
GO TO 2
Follow Kusa
GO TO 3

2.

You follow Kesi down the slope where she disappears into a drainage tunnel. You reluctantly follow and for a few minutes it seems like you may have lost her, but then you hear the sound of her claws along the stone coming toward you. The tunnel begins to rumble and with a hand against the wall you realize the squirrel has disrupted the energy of the stone tunnel.  
Run
You begin running deeper into the tunnel as the sound of crumbling stone rumbles behind you. Up ahead you see a large hole in the wall, big enough for a person to fit through. You dive through it, scraping your arms and knees against the stone floor on the other side.

GO TO 4
Stabilize the Tunnel
You frantically try to stabilize the energy of the tunnel. Once the low rumble of the stone ceases you begin to tie it all back into place. It takes time, but eventually the tunnel is sound again.

GO TO 6

3.

You follow Kusa a short way before he disappears into some bushes. As you stop next to a tree to consider what to do next, the squirrel attacks you from above, knocking you to the ground. As the squirrel runs off you see a shiny piece of metal in its teeth. Your hand goes to your neck. That thief just stole your Persuasion amulet!  
Take a Minute
You catch your breath before following.

GO TO 5
Chase Kusa
You scramble after Kusa, following him through a propped open side door into the tower. You unexpectedly run into Goldenessa. With no protection from her power, she Commands you not to move and you. . .well, you do nothing. You can only watch helplessly as she escapes with Dark Deva.

END

4.

You roll over to look back at the hole you’ve jumped through. You’ve seen this sort of clean-cut circle before–definitely the result of one of Dark Deva’s spells. You must have followed the right squirrel.   You stand from the floor, the scrapes on your skin stinging as you move, but they’re only lightly bleeding. You seem to be in a storage room of some sort with a staircase leading upward. You don’t see Dark Deva, so you climb the stairs.   At the top of the stairs you find another storage room and the sounds of someone digging through crates. You hear a shout of triumph and Dark Deva stands from behind a stack of crates, holding his prize in the air. He’s found the relic. At Kesi’s chittering he turns to see you in the room. He wastes no time in writing on the relic with an inked finger. You drop your hand to the floor, hoping to disrupt the energy of the stone so he loses his footing, but you don’t sense anything.

 
What's my enmanity?

1-3
You stand, casting a glance at Dark Deva, and realize why you can’t feel the energy of the stone floor. Swirling around him you see the purple and grey fog of his aura. You climb over the stack of crates between you, getting close enough that your fingers can reach the outer fringes of his aura. You grasp those fringes and yank hard. The reaction is instantaneous as Dark Deva lets out a growl. Your other hand grabs another part of his aura and he doubles over in pain, dropping the relic on the floor where it shatters into pieces. Kesi runs from the room, likely seeking help. Goldenessa, most likely. There’s no reason to hang out and wait for Kesi to return when you've already achieved your goal. Better go find an exit since you won’t be getting out the way you came in.

END
4-6
You stand, casting a glance at Dark Deva. None of your senses have changed, so you wipe off some of the blood from the scrape on your arm and rub it against the crate in front of you. There it is, the energy flow you were hoping for. You now control Flux, just like him.   While you’ve been distracted, Dark Deva has completed his inscription on the relic and raises it into the air with a deep laugh. The black ink glows white and then. . .nothing happens. The glow fades and Dark Deva looks confused and angry. After a moment he smashes the relic on the floor and you can’t help but laugh. All of this trouble was for naught.   His anger turns to you and he pulls the staff off his back. Rather than come for you he begins to draw on the floor with the tip of the staff. You’re not sure what he’s planning, but being on the receiving end of his spells is never a pleasant experience.   You climb over the crates between you and scramble toward his spell circle, blood on the tip of your finger. You swipe just enough blood across the edge of the circle to disrupt the energy flow before he completes it. The spell backfires, knocking him back into the stack of crates. It will take him some time to pick his way out of the wreckage, but you don’t have any intention of waiting for him to do so. You’ve achieved your goal and you've got to find an exit because you’re not getting out the way you came in.

END

5

Continuing through the garden you pick up some stones, stirring up the energy inside of them, and slip them into your pockets. You see Kusa’s tail disappear through a side door and you quickly follow after, stopping along the corridor, when you hear a familiar voice up ahead. Kusa must have given Goldenessa your amulet, because she Commands you to enter the room and stand in front of her. She seems delighted by your appearance. There’s a line of guards facing the wall behind her.

 
What's my enmanity?   1-3
A weight is lifted in your mind and you realize Goldenessa’s Command is no longer affecting you. You now control Persuasion and are immune to all of her Commands.

GO TO 7
4-6
You notice Goldenessa’s voice begins to ring differently, its perfect pitch pleasing to your ears. You now control Melody.

GO TO 8

6.

Now sure you won’t be crushed, you continue further into the tunnel until you come across a perfect hole in the wall, just large enough for a person to fit through. You squeeze through it and take to the staircase on the other side. You reach the landing just in time to see Dark Deva finish drawing a spell on the floor, relic in hand. Kesi must have distracted you in order to warn Dark Deva of your coming, because there’s no way he would have had time to draw a barrier spell otherwise.   Dark Deva laughs as you put your hand against the barrier, congratulating you on having a front row seat to his unlocking of ancient abyssal powers. He begins writing on the relic with an inked finger.   You drop to the floor, putting a hand to the stone, but you sense no energy to use to your advantage.

 
What's my enmanity?

1-3
You stand, casting a glance at Dark Deva, and realize why you can’t feel the energy of the stone. Swirling around him you see the purple and grey fog of his aura. If you can see his aura, then you can control it. You grab hold of the grey tendril that crosses the barrier and yank it as hard as you can. Dark Deva lets out a cry, dropping the relic as he grabs his head in pain, doubling over. The relic shatters into pieces on the floor. It seems so anticlimactic, but there's no reason to hang around when the exit is right behind you.

END
4-6
You stand, noticing a slight change in the room's lighting. You must control Light now. You concentrate the light around you and direct it into Dark Deva’s eyes. The flash of light blinds him and he stumbles backwards into a stack of crates, dropping the relic. It smashes into pieces on the floor. He roars in anger, but you can tell by the way he’s blinking that he can’t see much of anything. Physically, at least, but his aura vision won’t help him as you turn and run back down the stairs. Good thing he blocked you in front of the exit.

END

7.

You immediately throw the rocks from your pocket and dive for cover as they explode. You peek out of your hiding spot to see Kusa’s tail disappear through the doorway. You could follow him right to Dark Deva, but Goldenessa is already recovering and barking Commands at the guards. You’re immune to her power for now, but there’s a strong chance the guards will overtake you if you run. You’ve been practicing your Influences, maybe you can use them to keep Goldenessa from controlling the guards?

 
Chase Kusa
You chase Kusa into the corridor with the sound of the guards close behind. As you round the corner you come face to face with Dark Deva much sooner than you anticipated. The shock gives Goldenessa and the guard enough time to catch up with you. The guards tie you up and tape your mouth shut while the duo escapes.

END
Influence Guards
1d4

1
With all of your mental strength you Influence the guards into believing that Goldenessa is speaking a different language, one they don’t understand, rendering her Commands useless against them.

GO TO 9
2-4
With all of your mental strength, you attempt to Influence the guards into believing that Goldenessa is speaking a different language. Unfortunately, it’s a skill you’ve yet to master so the guards end up taping your mouth and tying you up anyway. Dark Deva appears and you can do nothing to stop the duo from escaping.

END

8.

You begin whistling an annoying tune meant to drive the listener insane. Goldenessa clamps her hands over her ears and Commands you to “stop that”. She isn’t usually so sloppy with her Commands, so you take advantage of the mistake to interpret the Command as “stop standing in place”. You immediately throw the rocks from your pocket and dive for cover as they explode on impact. As the dust settles, you peek out of your hiding spot to see Kusa’s tail disappear through the doorway. You could follow him to Dark Deva, but the chaos might be the best opportunity to get your amulet back.

Chase Kusa
You take two steps into the corridor before Goldenessa’s voice Commands you to stop. She appears, disheveled, at the door as Kusa disappears around a corner. A few minutes later Dark Deva arrives and the duo escapes while you are unable to do anything.

END
Take Amulet
You ignore Kusa and leap into action, hunting through the dust and rubble to find your amulet. You slip it over your head just as Goldenessa seems to recover from her shock. She immediately barks Commands at the guards who weren’t knocked out by the blasts. You back toward the room's entrance, knowing you probably can’t outrun them. Instead, you start singing in an attempt to put the whole room asleep, hoping any meloderes among the group are still unconscious from the explosions. Thankfully, all the guards fall asleep before they reach you, and even Goldenessa can’t keep herself from succumbing to your lullaby.   You give Goldenessa a quick pat down for the back up weapons you know she has hidden somewhere on her person. Among her skirts you find a pair of daggers just as Dark Deva appears in the room, relic in hand, visibly angry about what's transpired here.   For as much as Dark Deva claims to be above the things that tie him to this realm of life, Goldenessa has always been a weakness. You’ve incapacitated her and for a brief moment his concerns are more with her than the power he potentially holds in his hand.   You instinctively throw one of the knives, followed by the other less than a second later. The first one misses the mark, but you had anticipated Dark Deva’s reaction and the second drives right through the relic, smashing it to pieces. He gasps in anger and launches himself at you. You duck out of the way, but instead of following you he scoops up Goldenessa and escapes, leaving you alone in the room with the guards in various states of consciousness.

END

9.

You Command the guards to tie up Goldenessa. She’s so shocked by the turn of events that she hardly puts up a fight. Dark Deva arrives as they finish, visibly angry about what is happening. You’ve got a split second to decide what the guards should do next.

Attack Dark Deva
The guards jump into action, but Dark Deva is quick. He removes the staff strapped to his back and mows them down in one fluid motion. You’re worried he’ll come for you next, but instead he drags the tip of the staff along the ground in a flourish, leaving a spell inked on the floor. You’ve seen it before–the one that creates an invisible wall. Sure enough, as he moves to collect Goldenessa, you and the guards are prevented from stopping them by an invisible force. He unties her and the duo escapes with the relic.

END
Take Goldenessa Somewhere
Dark Deva removes the staff strapped to his back as the guards move to take Goldenessa somewhere. As expected, he’s ready to defend her at all costs. He launches toward the guards, ignoring you. You take advantage of his distraction and take the relic and run for the exit. He doesn’t even notice as you escape.

END
Author's Note: This choose-your-own-adventure takes place in the fictional world of the Eproilian Tales, a media franchise within the world of Leland where the rules of energy manipulation are slightly different than in the "real world".   A fan of the franchise may find this sort of thing in a magazine or at the back of a comic book.   This is also an extremely abridged version of this adventure. I had completed part of the decision tree from the first choice and discovered I was already over 3K words. If you're interested in a story with more choices and expanded prose/dialogue, check back after the competition is over for updates!

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