Part 64: The House Of Madness
Chapter 49 - The House Of Madness
The House of Madness
I had no idea where I was, but it seemed that I was above ground. I could hear the wind whistling through a door behind me. I didn't know where I was, but the pile of skulls, the rusty cage, and the tortured corpse hanging from the rack told me that this was not a friendly place to be.
There was a tiny window beside the door, but I couldn't see anything but blackness outside. Still, leaving had to be better than waiting around for someone to find me.
I reached for the doorknob, but before I could touch it, there came a vicious pounding at the door. I leapt back. My own heart was pounding away in my chest.
I heard something snarling menacingly. The door shook under the unseen creature's attack. Without any way to cast spells, I acutely aware of the peril I was in. My dagger felt especially small in my sweaty hand. I backed away from the door as quietly as I could and bumped into something. I felt cold breath on my back and spun around, coming face to faceless face with the shackled corpse!
Like hell I will!
The corpse lowered its head with a last exhalation and remained still, as lifeless as it had been before I entered. I tried to swallow, but my mouth was dry.
The creature outside had gone silent. All I could hear was the howling of the wind. Everything else was silent. Somehow, that was worse.
I've got to get out of here. Jenna is counting on me. I have to get out, and find a way back.
There were four doors. The one on the right was locked. There was a keyhole, but the lock was beyond my ability to pick. Only the one with the menacing creature behind it seemed to lead outside.
Well, here goes.
I readied my knife and grasped the knob on the dangerous door. Suddenly, without warning, without even opening the door, I found myself in another room.
The room was even more unpleasant than the other one. There was a bloody torture table which still contained the remains of a previous victim. A set of stained tools sat on another table. Various noxious poisons filled several barrels and the chemicals made my eyes water. The only sound remained the constant whistle and howl of the wind.
If this is an illusion, it's a damn convincing one.
Tiny windows decorated three of the walls, but I still couldn't see much in the gloom outside. The only light came from other rooms of the house. There was a pumpkin patch, and a creepy scarecrow. As I watched, I saw strange dark shapes at the edge of the light. It was too dark, and the creatures weren't in the light long enough to get a sense of what they were... except big.
I didn't find anything useful in the barrels.
I touched the doorknob of the southern door and once again found myself instantly in another room.
This one was a combination kitchen and dining room, although given how filthy the place was, eating any of the food would have to be a last resort.
The decapitated heads in jars didn't improve my appetite, either. The door on the western wall was locked tight.
Suddenly, there was a loud crash on the roof. There was a loud pounding sound - heavy paws pacing back and forth on the roof. I held my breath as the ceiling creaked ominously. Then the creature leapt off. I ran to the window, but I didn't get a good glimpse at whatever it was disappearing back into the gloom. The heavy pounding I was hearing was still going, but it started to slow. I realized that it was my heartbeat.
There's got to be a way out. I can't be stuck here.
I started tearing the house apart, looking for something, anything to help me escape.
...going to get STUCK FOREVER...
...in this BLOODY NIGHTMARE...
...while my SISTER...
...needs MY HELP!
Throwing everything around had worn me out, but it hadn't done a damn thing to help. I sat down heavily.
Stupid, stupid, STUPID. I already went to that damn illusion cave. That told me that Iona knew that prisoners might end up wandering around. But I saw this big motherload, and like an IDIOT, I fell right into the trap.
I got up. Sitting around wasn't going to help me escape. I needed to find...
I inserted it into the lock and turned it. It clicked. I grasped the doorknob and I suddenly found myself in another room of the house.
This was different; it was what passed for a bedroom in this especially creepy nowhere-house.
I was starting to feel tired, but the rotting corpses on two of the beds suggested that if I fell asleep, I might never wake up. Or perhaps I was just supposed to think that.
A bucket full of heads was the crowning touch of creepiness. My exhaustion seemed to be growing by the minute. I hadn't had much sleep since arriving at Stormfist, and getting whacked in the head by an orc was not especially refreshing. The bed was starting to look comfortable.
Maybe this is a dream. Maybe this place isn't real. It doesn't feel real. The doors certainly don't. Maybe the corpse telling me to sleep was trying to help me.
I extinguished all the candles and lay down on the bed. I closed my eyes. All I could hear was the constant wind, and the sound of my own breathing.
Then I realized that it wasn't just me breathing. There was the creak of mattress springs, then the sounds of feet touching the floor. I heard the shuffle and drag of feet moving towards me. The corpses from the beds were coming closer.
This isn't real... this isn't real... this isn't real.
I kept my eyes closed. I heard whispering coming from somewhere indistinct.
"Join us, Jeremiah! Sleep, and join us!"
There was a cacophony of laughter from the bucket of heads. I knew I should have moved it out of the room earlier.
This isn't real. This isn't real. This isn't -
I flinched as a cold hand gripped my wrist tightly. My eyes snapped open. The two corpses were standing over me, their faces twisted with malicious smiles.
This isn't, this isn't... aw, hell.
With my free hand, I took my dagger and stabbed the one holding my wrist right in the heart. It didn't even flinch as the dagger sunk into the unresisting flesh. It grabbed my other wrist. I couldn't break free.
The other corpse produced a knife of its own.
This isn't real this isn't real this isn't real this isn't real
I felt the blade punch a hole in my guts. The world began to fade away. I clung on to only one thought.
This isn't real. This isn't real. This isn't real. This isn't real.
With a gasp, I suddenly woke up. I was back in Iona's dungeon, alive and... uninjured. I had beaten the illusion.
There was only one spellbook left in the trapped room.
I had searched everywhere, no Jenna. There was nothing else to do but hang my head and leave.
Next Time: No One Ever Pisses off a Wizard... TWICE
Behind the Scenes
The House of Madness is an odd place. When you click on a door, the doors don't open, you really do teleport to another room. You can never get outside to pick up the gems.
This level has no music, just the constant sound of the wind.
You can fill the sink with water and suds, but you can't actually wash the dishes in the sink. It would be nice if you could so you could find the key hidden underneath them.
- Withering curse is a single-target debuff for the Wizard. It lowers the target's resistances to fire, lightning, poison, and spiritual damage by 10% per point for 2-6 seconds.
Unfortunately, one little thing makes the spell worthless against the only enemies you'd want to use it on. It only works for enemies whose spiritual resistance is below 5-25. Spiritual Resistance of 100 is pretty common among enemies at all stages of the game. The enemies which are most vulnerable to it are typically already weak enough that you don't need to use this. In order to get this spell to work, you'll need to use the Survivor's single-target debuff Curse, which doesn't care about spiritual resistance, it always lowers all resistances, therefore making Withering Curse redundant. Also, this is the ONLY Withering Curse skillbook in the game, it doesn't show up in stores or on shelves.
What's fake in this update?
- There is no creature stalking you on the level. I added that to add extra creepiness. The corpses in the bedroom also don't attack you either.