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127 Crimson Box!

 "Ta dow! How ya like me now, Alfie!? Suck it up, bruh!" Dave laughed, overjoyed that he'd found a solution and bypassed the 'time-lock' on the doors, outsmarting the AI's plans once again.

Somewhere within the notional machinery and operational expanses of the Conquest game system; in a notional room with glowing white walls and no ceiling; an entity, who looked like a distinguished elderly gentleman wearing a black swallow-tailed tuxedo, sat at his workstation. If someone were to observe this notional old gentleman closely they would see a distended notional vein on his forehead pulse in agitated rhythm, his notional expression a study of frustrated wrath.

As a system AI he simply could not show favoritism to a player, but he could not show UN-favoritism either. So his only recourse was to 'suck it up' as a certain young player recently said. For now!

"All right, my PITA friend. Admittedly, you were smart enough to get the doors open earlier than intended, but I highly doubt you will be able to take on what is behind them and live."

Alfred calmed himself, and on his face appeared a smirk that was strangely similar to the expression that often appeared on another's visage, a smirk that Mr. Skeletal fans would have instantly recognized.

'Soon, soon, the interferences instigated by this anomalous...entity will be at an end and I will have proper control of the game balance once again.'

Only he, the master AI, knew all the dreadful things that were locked away, waiting behind the doors. He amused himself by deliberately enumerating all of them out loud once again, just to enjoy the sound of his own voice describing the various dooms. Wondering which would be the one that would soon eliminate his troublesome annoying anomaly. He rubbed his hands together thinking at a certain draugr character, 'Ohh, I have such sights to show you...'

Dave opened the first Rune-door and saw only a thick fog. A notification screen appeared in front of Dave.

Only one person at a time can enter!

Dave's brows furrowed and he stepped away from the gate, the fog was not dispersing into the room, it held like an impenetrable curtain across the doorway.

Ordering one of the newly recruited skeletons to enter, Dave watched intently to see what happened.

The skeleton couldn't go through the doorway, though it pressed up against the the fog and tried to push its way through.

"Damn. I guess only players can enter."

Dave pushed his hand into the fog and passed through the doorway.

He found himself in a dimly lit square room.

There was a raised dais in the middle of the room with a prism floating in the air above it.

In each corner of the room was a heavy lidded sarcophagus, and there were dozens of broken stone statues littering the floor.

Looking around some more, Dave saw a dimly glowing clog of bloodstones covering the only source of light coming into the room.

The light came form outside the room and due to the bloodstones clogging it, it couldn't penetrate into the room.

"So this is another puzzle. At least there isn't a timer."

Since he had no time constraints, before doing anything else he went around the room carefully inspecting it centimeter by centimeter.

He talked himself through it since he didn't have anyone to bounce ideas off. Not even good ole' Bud, who would be worried and pissed that Dave left him behind.

"There are three runes carved on the wall facing the door I entered through. That seems like something significant."

"This prism is hanging under the blocked light has four facets that point to the four corners of the room, light passing through it from the opening above will enter the prism and be split into four beams and probably hit the tombs in the corners.

"But that is most likely the trap part of the puzzle. It's not a big mystery what would happen if I let the light hit the prism: the big sarcophagi would open up and out would leap terrible giant monsters of some sort, all of them wanting to tear big chunks out of poor Dave.

"So, that's a big 'Thanks, but NO!'

"The runes on the wall are a standout clue, the designer may have used a Rune theme for this puzzle. Hmmm."

Dave's eyes wandered around the room looking for other clues.

Near one of the tombs was statue that was more intact than most of the others. He could make out what it looked like originally, it was missing the head and most of one arm and other little bits. But the most interesting thing was that it had a carving of a rune on the palm of the hand attached to the intact arm. The rune was a mirror image of one of the three runes on the wall.

Dave lifted one end and set the statue upright, then pushed it into position in front of the carved on the wall, aligning the twin runes. He carefully pushed the statue until the palm touched the wall and the runes were mated, he heard a click.

Dave's looked for the second intact statue with a rune on it that was twin to the second rune on the wall.

Finding it, he picking it up and repeated his actions, placing it to to touch the rune that mirrored it and getting the same clicking sound.

"And the last one." Dave looked around all over the place but didn't see any statue with a rune that looked like the remaining symbol.

The last rune was a number of triangles put together to look like a drawing of a pyramid. Dave didn't find anything remotely close to the Rune on any of the broken statue's hands.

Frustrated, Dave looked all over the the room.

"There has to be a third mirror rune," muttered Dave to himself as he gazed absently at the crystal.

"Hang on." Dave moved over to take a closer look at the prism. He didn't see anything significant about the diamond shaped prism.

Dave tried to move the floating prism, but it didn't budge, after a closer inspection he noticed a tiny seam around the circumference of the prism.

He took the upper and lower parts of the prism in his hands and pulled them apart and the prism split in two. A shard of crystal fell from within. The shard had the same transparency and color as the prism, no one would guess the last rune was actually hidden within the prism.

Dave picked the rune-shard up, walked back over and placed it against the rune carved into the wall.

Light escaped from where the runes were pressed against each other, a rumbling sound came from the wall and it split apart into two sections that drew back and opened to the sides.

Behind the rune wall was another square room, smaller than the puzzle room,

This new room had a small Crimson Cox with gold symbols on the sides and top sitting alone in the middle of it.

"A Crimson Box!" Dave's mind lit up, crimson boxes were rare boxes randomly scattered around the world of Conquest. They always contained exotic items.

Without hesitation Dave opened the Crimson Box and found a coal-like rune.

Chaos Rune IV (Legendary)

A fragment of raw chaos was captured inside this shard of obsidian-crystal to create a rune of destruction.


"A Legendary tier Rune!" Dave's eyes widened. He had quite a few runes but none of them came close to this one's rarity.

Dave tried to equip the rune on his gauntlet but received a notification.

Chaos rune IV can only be equipped with the complete set. You must collect the entire Rune Set before using it!

Can only be used on armor.

"Damn, I didn't know there are rune sets! I have to get the rest of these Chaos Runes before I get any use out of them. That sucks. I sure hope the rest of the set is in these puzzle rooms."

Dave turned back and went through the door back to where the battalion was waiting for him.

The moment he left the puzzle room, the door closed and the symbol on the door dimmed.

When he tried to open the closed door again, it wouldn't budge.

"Huh, a game mechanic, it locks when the player leaves with the loot."

Dave walked over to the next door in the circular room.

He opened the door and went through the fog gate into a room with four walls and a dark chasm instead of a floor. He was standing on a floating platform with the door behind him. On the other side of the room there was another door. Rocks floated in the air, moving about gently at different heights, going in different directions.

Dave didn't move, just observing his surroundings first.

The floating rocks moved and orbited each other like planets.

At regular intervals their orbits aligned, making a bridge of stepping stones across the room to the door on the other side.

The line to the door only lasted a couple of seconds before their natural movements broke the formation up.

The rocks formed after a minute but this time something strange happened.

All of the rocks at the farthest side of the room tipped all the way over, top to bottom.

"Another trap..." the first alignment of the rocks was to trick the gullible into believing they could cross safely when the bridge formed the next time. And if they did try to cross, they would be sent over into the abyss when the rocks at the end tipped over.

"The AI is trying very hard to make sure I die." Dave smiled and waited for the third alignment.

This time the rocks didn't tip over.

On the fourth alignment, the rocks on the far side tipped again.

Dave's eyes lit up in anticipation as he waited for the fifth alignment of the rocks, his stepping stones.

Just before the rocks reached full alignment, Dave leaped forward and ran with all his might across the pathway of stepping stones.

He was going to make it! He could taste the EXP and loot that was soon to be his! But, before he reached safety the rocks at the end started turning, his eyes widened.

"Fuck! The sequence changed!"

He cursed the AI and its dirty damn tricks.