The visual prompt:
Our main characters are:
A Gargoyle ~ This flying statue's holy water is harmless to the pure of heart but scathing to the objectively evil.
A Mandrake ~ It's gurgling scream is the only thing that distracts from its putrid smell.
The special object in this story is:
An Anvil ~ It can upgrade your gear or downgrade your head.
Our story takes place in:
Labyrinth ~ Constructing this reality-bending maze drove a mad architect sane.
Whoever built this place must have been completely insane, as the laws of physics (especially gravity) were being broken left and right. The floor you're standing on right now, even though it feels solid enough, does not keep you grounded, because for all you know you could be standing on a wall, or upside down on the ceiling. The whole place just makes you feel dizzy and completely disoriented.
You find yourself standing in the middle of a very confusing room full of bright colors, countless doorways and staggering stairs. "Why is this room so confusing?" you ask yourself.
At first you can't seem to put your finger on it, but you realize it's because these stairs go in every possible direction, and even in some impossible directions as well. Meaning the stairs didn't go just up and down, but they also went side to side, back to front, and continued straight on through doorways and into the walls. Some staircases even twisted upside down so that by the time you got to the top you expected to walk on the ceiling like a house fly.
Yet, even as you find yourself terribly confused, you are also terribly amused. The room is bright and well-lit, even though you don't see any windows, or lamps, or chandeliers hanging around. The walls are painted pink and yellow and blue and green, and the colors all merge into each other so that a blue floor turns into a pink wall with yellow stairs leading up to another green wall, but then you feel like you've gone down a level instead of up.
You spin slowly in place, in awe of this infinitely puzzling room. You wonder to yourself, "How did I even get here? What am I doing here?"
And the answer becomes obvious to you. You are in a dream. This mind-boggling room isn't real. Nothing like this can possibly exist in the real world.
You are surprised at yourself, at your own disturbed, confusing mind. You've never had this kind of dream before, that's for sure.
Perhaps this room is meant to be some kind of metaphor? All these halls, these stairways, these doors... They are all offering you choices. Even some insane choices. Anything is possible right now.
All you have to do is start walking, and choose a path. If you don't do anything, you will be overwhelmed with indecision, and become immobilized with the infinite possibilities.
So you start walking up (or walking down?) a blue staircase. There are no handrails, and the steps are narrow and steep, and you have to make yourself not look over the side of the stairs as you walk, because then you'll start wondering whether gravity is toying with you, so you just look straight ahead and keep walking until you reach the next... Not floor, because who know where the floor really is, so you call it a platform.
That wasn't so bad, so you choose a pink staircase. This one feels quite a bit longer, and after a while you look ahead of you, just to see how far you have to go. You don't seem to be making any progress, like you're on an escalator and walking in place. You might as well be standing still! So you stop wasting your energy and halt in the middle of the stairway.
So now what?
Well, this is a dream, isn't it? Maybe you can just fly off these steps and over to that green wall over there.
You feel a little nervous, not knowing whether you'll be floating or falling should you jump off the edge, but before you can change your mind, your legs have taken over, and you make the leap of faith!
You start floating in slow motion, and you direct yourself to land right on your feet exactly where you intended, and once your feet touch the wall, you feel gravity reorient itself so that it feels like the floor.
The gravity of this discovery hits you and you smile, ready to have some real fun.
You push off from the ground and do a back flip, and suddenly you're heading towards the ceiling head first, without even trying. You stretch your arms out in front of you, so you land on your hands in a momentary handstand, before pushing the platform away to twist and meet a blue staircase.
You bounce off the walls for a while, having the time of your life! Eventually though, you start becoming curious about all the doors in this place. Every door is made of a different kind of wood and painted a different color, and you've been completely ignoring them up to this point, but now are wondering where they might lead to. So you land on a yellow set of stairs so you can head down (or was it up?) to the red door waiting for you at the end if it.
Once your feet touches the step, however, the staircase begins to move beneath you! You crouch and freeze, stretching your arms all the way out so you can keep your balance. "Whoa! What is happening here?" You ask yourself.
The base (or the top) of the stairs remains in place on that platform, but the other end is now swinging over to meet another wall, and twisting somehow so that it meets up with another doorway entirely.
When the stairs stop moving and lock themselves into place, you relax and straighten up. You climb the rest of the stairs and stop in front of the door, which, unlike the others, is made out of hard gray stone, not wood. You turn the handle, and it's surprisingly easy to open, so you walk right on through, not even thinking of what might be on the other side.
You have walked into a dark cathedral of some kind, the ruins of some centuries old church. After having experienced the wacky architecture of those labyrinthine stairs, the solid structure if the stone columns built up all around you is something of a comfort, even though it's pretty dull. Still, you feel grounded and sure of your footing here, so you leave that other room far behind.
It isn't completely colorless here. There are beautiful stained glass windows shining above you depicting angels and biblical characters as well as some abstract swirls and shapes. Besides the typical depictions you'd expect in a church, however, you notice portraits of cartoon characters you see on TV that you've watched religiously since childhood, caricatures of celebrities you and your friends worship from afar.
Was this cathedral trying to tell you something too? This dream was getting a little heavy-handed now, wasn't it?
You continue to make your way through the dimly lit church (the hall seemed to go on for ages), admiring the colorful works of glass making shapes you recognize, when suddenly you come across an especially colorful window that looks exactly like the confusing room of staircases. Just staring at the glass and trying to follow the walls and the paths makes your head spin, and you have to look away.
Moving forward, you see that the next stained glass window shows the very cathedral hall you are walking through, and you even see a tiny person staring up at the window above him, which also shows the cathedral and someone looking up at it, and so on and so on to infinity.
The little person in the window must be you! What a strange and incredible coincidence. It's like this place knew you would be here...
You look away from the window, about to take another step when you suddenly reel back, realizing that you were just about to bump into somebody.
You start to apologize, but when you focus on the figure before you, you find there is no need. It's just a tall stone statue. The statue is strange and foreboding, depicting a man with outstretched wings shaped like two axe-blades as well as a goatee and what appear to be horns sticking out of either side of his head, right above the ears. He's like a mix between a stone angel and a stone devil, though only down to his torso. The rest of him was like another stone column, like the ones holding the ceiling up.
The stone man appears to be guarding a large wooden door that seems to be open just a crack, and something tells you that it leads outdoors. You've been in the dark for so long, it would make a wonderful change to walk out into the fresh air and feel the sun on your face.
You start to walk around the stone statue, when his staff suddenly appears in front if you, blocking your path with a sharp THUD! You look back at him, and his empty, soulless eyes are now glowing fiery white!
Frightened and going purely on instinct, you bend your knees and leap right over the guy, just as easily as you did in the colorful room of stairs earlier. You reach for the door and wrench it wide open. You take no notice of the stone guard shaking his fists at you, his eyes burning as you make your escape from this mysterious place of worship.
Now you are in a maze of a different kind, of hedges and white fences. The door you just came out of and closed behind you seems to be set in a tall, thick expanse of green leaves, not a church, like you saw on the inside. Strange.
Unsure of where to go, you choose a random path where the hedges are dotted with flowers and vines, and you start exploring. You stop and smell some of the roses, and blow the fuzzy seeds off of dandelions. Somewhere you hear tiny bells chiming, and when you look for the source of the sound you discover that the bluebells are actually ringing like bells.
It's such a magical, pleasant place out here. You just feel so glad to be walking out here, the sun shining bright, no longer feeling like you're trapped and confused and being kept in the dark. Even when you run into a dead end in the maze, you feel so happy and alive, inhaling and enjoying the sweet, fresh scent of the breeze, flavored by mixture of flowery smells.
Until you get a whiff of something that is less than pleasant. "Ugh!" you say to yourself, covering your nose with your sleeve. The smell is ghastly, absolutely putrid, like bad eggs or toxic paint or something that's been rotting for days. You try to avoid the stench and stick with the aromas of the flowers, but the awful odor seems to be following you, getting closer and closer, and there's nothing you can do about it!
You turn a corner, and you spot an ugly little imp-like creature some yards away. It's like a walking mushroom, with stubby legs, an orange stalk body, and a large, bulbous, red and white-spotted cap on it's head. Only it isn't quite a mushroom, no. This little guy is not a fungi. The cap slowly parts and you see it has a gaping mouth with sharp yellow teeth, dripping with acid green spit. As you see the mouth opening wider and wider, you hear it's gurgling hiss building and building, until it finally lets loose a shrill scream that rattles your bones.
This pleasant dream has become a nightmare! You turn tail and run away from the walking plant's awful scream and smell. You make a right through an opening in the hedge, turn a couple of other random times, and you think you might have lost him.
SPLAT! A puddle of stinky, nasty green slime lands inches away from you, bubbling and turning the grass at your feet brown and dead.
You look up, and you see the orange imp again. It's somehow grown long purple vines for it's arms, rubbery like hoses and shooting out giant acid-green spit balls in your direction. It makes a gurgly roar and marches toward you.
You don't stick around, running and dodging the sick acid puddles. No matter how much you run, though, that little monster plant seems to know where you're going, and turns up around every other corner.
That thing couldn't be that fast, could it? It must have friends that look just like it, and they're all chasing after you. But why? You don't stop to wonder about that, only thinking about getting away.
Your luck runs out, and your path leads you to a dead end. There's nothing you can do, nowhere else to go. The little monster has you trapped, and it knows it.
It finds you, it's knobby eyes narrowed, aiming, ready to fire it's slime at will, when, completely out of nowhere, a black grand piano lands on top of it.
"Well, that was unexpected," you think to yourself, and you thank your lucky stars that it happened at such an opportune time, but then you hear a high-pitched whistling sound coming from above. You look up and you see...
Other things raining down from the sky! More pianos, heavy safes, cars, elephants, houses, they're all landing down and flattening the hedges of the maze all around you! You have no idea what to do, and are unable to move.
The last thing you remember is an iron anvil screaming down towards the ground, sure to flatten you over the head where you stand before...
You wake up.