Far, far away, under the mountains of solitude in the darkest wilds of the furthest lands lie the the dungeons of Gremalda. Hidden within the myriad of miles of labyrinths that stretch for no less than a dozen levels there exists treasure and fortune enough to turn any adventuring hero into a king, with a selection of crowns to choose from.
All that prevents any tourist from entering and gaining riches beyond their wildest dreams are a few hindrances. Hindrances like lethal and surprising traps of a cunning and deadly nature and a hundred or more species of violent and deadly monsters, wide enough in range to cover any number of bestiaries.
Even deeper within the Gremaldan dungeons, behind the secret walls and where no visitor could ever wish to see are the workshops, those laboratories where scientists mad and sane, though unquestioningly brilliant and notably evil create the creatures and traps to fill the labyrinthine dungeons.
Within those studios discoveries are made on a daily basis and often are revealed the workings of those darkest of minds. Each in turn, if deemed worthy, are integrated into the murderous workings of the deadliest of dungeons, set to challenge the world looking for only the bravest, keenest and most foolhardy of adventurers.
Foolhardy though they might be, the adventurers still come, and though the number of survivors to emerge from the dungeon is pitifully small, still there are some and so the challenges they face must always be renewed and improved.
Today is no exception, for today four of the keenest minds in the laboratories are ready to reveal their newest and most lethal of inventions.
Let us watch…
The first to reveal their creation is Dr Giacomo Turnkey, master of genetics and spellcaster to numerous kings, now sadly demised. He stepped into the main chamber and bowed to the thunderous applause of his fellow magisters. He spoke not a word as he wheeled in a huge trolley from the ante-chamber where he had previously prepared it.
The hush in the room grew tense, and still without speaking a word, Giacomo strode to the side of the shrouded object and then with a theatrical air he swept the huge satin sheet away that had been covering it.
What he revealed was strange to behold, over two meters long, wide and tall it was a cube, translucent all the way through and a light blue in colour.
It wobbled slightly.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the newest of guardians to grace the grim and grisly tombs that are entrusted to our care. Never before have we been able to offer such a sickening death as that which is offered by my new creature, and be sure that this thing I present before you is alive, though it features no face, limbs nor even a skeleton. I give to you my newest creation … the Gelatinous Cube!”
He took a bow.
While at the lowest point of his bow, with his arms swept upwards he noticed one missing detail.
Nobody was clapping.
He looked up at his audience, and then re-righted himself, covering his bow with what grace he could muster.
“Is there something amiss?” he looked a little worried.
His audience mumbled between themselves for a second before one of them was nominated and stepped forward to speak their concerns. On this occasion it was Walter Harpie, one of the leading trapmasters in the dungeon.
“It’s not exactly terrifying, is it?” he ventured.
“Ah, I see your problem, I have not yet fully explained the full horrors that the Gelatinous Cube beholds! Think about this then… when roaming the corridors of the labyrinth above us, imagine happening upon this monstrosity ahead of you. There could be no way around the creature, since he fills any but the most insanely large of corridors or doorways, moulding himself to fit the space, and for those heroes foolish enough to venture into it’s gelatinous form will find themselves dissolving.
“The gel form facing you right now has been genetically inspired by the acids within any creatures stomach. Over time, the skin, the muscles and flesh of the foolish hero will be consumed within the cube leaving nothing but a skeletal form and whatever metal armour and treasures the idiot chose to be carrying.
“Can you imagine your very flesh being dissolved around you, and the intense agony that such a thing would bring? Why, your very nerve endings would be screaming at you, not just one, but every single nerve in your body? And that, my friends, is why the Gelatinous Cube is the newest and most terrifying creature we have unleashed in the dungeon”
Again, he took a sweeping bow.
Again, he looked up when the applause he was expecting didn’t come.
“Still, you are not impressed?”
Again, Walter was the one to express the concerns. “How … fast does it move?”
“It can move anywhere up to three meters in an hour!”
“Three meters … in an hour?”
“So, if a hero encounters it in a room, then they can just, leisurely walk around it?”
“But in a corridor…!”
“Of which we have many, granted, but even then, you say that it will not eat metal?”
“No, that way we can add the treasure of any adventurer to the hoards we have in the vaults!”
“Which is a fine plan. But it does mean that your Gelatinous Cube is defeated by an adventurer in full plate armour. Or even an imbecile who wraps himself in tin foil?”
“HOW MANY PEOPLE WALK AROUND WITH TINFOIL?”
“More than a couple, once news of your terrifying entity gets out there.”
“Ridiculous. I still stand by my point that the horrible death of someone trapped in the gel would be a most dire way to go.”
“Oh, yes. Absolutely. Is there any chance we can have a demonstration?”
Giacomo smiled widely. “I thought you would never ask.”
He clicked his fingers and a small troll entered from a side door carrying a large ham. He walked with purpose up to the wobbling blue cube, stepped right into it with barely a hesitation before taking a step into the middle, lifted the ham to somewhere in the region of the very centre and let go, where it was held, floating. Then the troll took a couple of steps backwards until it was no longer inside the cube and walked off, wiping slime from its sleeves.
The audience blinked as they watched the troll leave.
“Now, watch! As the ham dissolves before your very eyes!”
Giacomo swept his arms again to demonstrate the awesome powers of his construct.
“Did a troll just walk through your new monster?”
“Yes, what about it?”
“We thought the thing was supposed to trap the hero as they tried to walk through it? How long does this thing take to work, anyway?”
“Well, a ham that size will be nothing but a bone in less than an hour.”
“LESS … THAN … AN … HOUR! Do I have to repeat everything?”
“Do you expect someone to just stand there for an hour, what, playing with themselves while they wait to be eaten?”
“Well, we might have to incorporate it with another trap, like a beartrap or something.”
“Which it will wander away from in a couple of hours or so?”
“RIGHT THEN! I’ve had enough of your bloody criticism. Let’s see what you have to offer then, mister bloody I’m so much smarter than you.”
“Alright, I will.”
Walter got a couple of assistants to push away the Gelatinous Cube of infinite lethality (unless you were wearing a metal outfit or walked faster than three meters an hour.) and brought forward a diorama, which he laid on a table, handily placed by one of his junior trapsmiths.
“I need no showmanship to demonstrate my newest chamber to grace the deathtrap dungeons of Gremalda. I put before you all a simple but effective room that will dominate and destroy not just the minds of the intruders, but also their very souls. Behold! The Chamber of Contemplation!”
He waved everybody forward so they could get a closer look at the little model room he had placed before them.
The plan was simple enough, with a square room with only one door, and three blank walls. One the fourth wall there was a sign, which hung above a door which was not connected to any doorway, but simply rested on the ground. The sign, which was still readable at this size, read ‘You Will Never Guess The Answer’.
Walter stood back, arms folded and with a smug grin.
Giacomo was still smarting from the shaming Walter had given him, and so was no longer in a pleasant mood.
“Let me guess, there is no secret to this chamber. It’s just there to cause uncertainty?”
“You bloody sneak. You’ve been spying on my plans, haven’t you?”
“I bloody well have not! It’s obvious! It’s so obvious a five year old could have spotted it. You’re just hoping for someone to spend hours trying to puzzle out a bloody puzzle that isn’t bloody there!”
“That’s not the easiest thing to work out you know! There’s the door on the floor! That’s blank on the other side, and you can put it up against any surface! And then there’s the sign!”
Giacomo was unimpressed. “meh meh meh, the sign. You might as well have just written ‘You cannot overthink this’ and put a pair of scales in there. Perhaps some other things with a ‘metaphysical’ nature. It’s all bollocks!”
“You’re Bollocks. It’s much better than your shitty blue jelly cube.”
“THE GELATINOUS CUBE IS AWESOME, AND YOU WILL RUE THE DAY YOU INSULTED MY CREATION!”
Towards the back of the audience, to which the two crafters had long since been oblivious the crowd started peeling away back to their own offices and laboratories.
One young man, fresh faced and new to the dungeon, turned to his neighbour and asked a fairly important question.
“Does this often happen?”
“Almost every meeting now. I’ve been waiting to show them my axe-wielding cyborg werewolf I’ve created for months now. Maybe next time.”