It was a very rundown ranch that had been abandoned many moons ago. The windows were boarded up and a large padlock hung from the front door latch. It was rusty and looked like it would come right off if you gave it a good pull.
A man appeared. He was dressed in black, quite suave-looking, like he might be in a band. Not a really famous band, maybe a cover band that did pub gigs.
“Hello. My name’s Guildford Underpass. You might know me from such vids as Descent into the Mines and, of course, Defeat in the Lower Depths. Heh, heh. Took a bit of beating in that one.” He seemed to find himself quite amusing. “Sorry, not used to being on this side of the camera. Wait a minute, let me just…”
His fingers wiggled in front of him, and the picture turned several degrees more colourful.
“That’s better. Don’t usually get to do outdoor shoots, might as well make the most of this one.”
He finished his finger wiggling.
“You don’t normally see much of me, I’m the one behind the camera most of the time, capturing the action. Thanks very much for all the follows and subscribes, by the way, very much appreciated. And if this is your first time, don’t forget to smash the like button. Heh, heh. That was a joke...”
He straightened his collar and cleared his throat.
“So, those of you who saw my last video, know how badly we lost. It was even worse than it looked, believe me. We were outgunned and outplayed. Not even close. Everyone’s gone off to lick their wounds and try to get their XP back, but it’s more than levels we need if we’re going to have any chance of winning. What we need is real firepower, and that means magic items. That’s why I’m here. Well, not here, exactly, but on this journey. This quest.”
He paused for dramatic effect. The journey to find a magical item was clearly a momentous undertaking, deserving of long pauses and the occasional lighting change.
“You see, I have unearthed rumour of a magic shop, run by a gnome wizard. There, you can swap any magic item you own, no matter how minor, for one of his magic artefacts. And I have this magic tome.” He held up a battered leather-bound book. “Some pages missing, and needs a necromancer to work — believe me, I’ve tried — but it’s definitely a bona fide arcane object. I intend to swap it for something that can blow a hole in a stone wall. Heh, heh. The only clue I have is that the shop is inside an underground city, and the entrance to that city is somewhere near this derelict ranch behind me.”
He turned to look at the old ranch house, moving to the side to give a better view.
“Doesn’t look like anything special, but there could be another clue around here. I want you to join me on this solo adventure into the—”
Guildford Underpass stopped talking and stood very still. He waited, but nothing happened.
“Sorry, I could have sworn I heard…”
“Hey, big boy, over here.”
He jumped into the air and turned to face the other way in one smooth move. The picture zoomed into the back of his head, and then was looking through his eyes.
“This is it,” he said, now off-screen. “The next clue. I think it’s coming from that old well.”
He approached the stone well and peered into the darkness.
“Hello, yourself,” said a voice from far below.
“Is this the way to the Gnome City?”
“Sure. That’s right. This is the way.”
“Ooh, jackpot, you lucky boy,” he muttered to himself. Then he leaned in further. “How do I climb down? Is there a rope?”
“You don’t need a rope, strong lad like you. Just take my hand.”
Green claws reached up from the darkness, gnarled and filthy. They grabbed either side of the frame and pulled. The picture, and Guildford, fell into the well, towards two hideous yellow eyes and a grinning set of yellow teeth.
“No, no, not like this....”
The screen went black.
Back on 3rd September.Afterword from Mooderino