“Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and tell you all to eat a dick.” As you watch, a brief flicker of uncertainty runs across your reflection’s faces.
One of the child versions of you speaks up. “But we’re trying to-”
“You can cut the bullshit,” you interrupt. “I’ll admit you do a good impression of me, but you fucked up a few key details. The biggest of them is that Victoria is supposed to be the one who gets me killed? Are you out of your mind? She hasn’t even been around for the really crazy shit. She missed the Guy Fawkes Day animated mannequins, the Boxing Day aliens; hell she wasn’t even around for Groundhog’s Day, and even I’m not sure how we survived all that mutagen.”
Wizard you stares with open eyes. “What the hell kind of life do you live?”
You shrug your shoulders, though still keep the pitchfork at the ready. “I like to party. Sometimes shit happens. Now get out of the way so I can go find my friends.”
“Forget it. If we can’t change your mind then we’ll just have to have someone with a more agreeable sentiment take your place.” As the wizard reflection speaks, it begins to morph and warp, until it’s a perfect duplicate of how you look tonight. It smiles at you, an eerie effect when coupled with your demon costume. “You can just rot in here.”
“No, I don’t think he will.”
You spin around at the new voice to find Victoria besides you. Her face is composed and polite, but there’s an unmistakable gleam of murder in her eyes.
“Testing a guardian is all perfectly in line, but you go too far, Glass. My servant has passed, yet you would try to replace him anyway. That goes against the very spirit of the Accords. As the mundanes might say: consider this strike one.”
The smile on the mirror you’s face falls away, and he begins to warp again. This time all the others do as well, the color and shape oozing off of them until they all look like no more than humanoid shaped distortions in the mirrors’ surfaces.
“It was just a bit of fun. I would have let him go…eventually.” Now the voice no longer sounds like your own. Instead it’s like a broken wind chime.
“The trial is done, Glass Garrote, and you have no claim here. Open the way, before I become perturbed.” It’s Victoria’s turn to smile, showing those still just a hair too sharp teeth as she leers at the man in the mirrors. Her words have barely come out before a doorway opens to your side. She takes your hand and leads you out of it before there’s time to protest.
Just like that, you’re standing back outside the entrance to the Hall of Mirrors. Your senses are momentarily overcome by the bright colors and droning music as you readjust to your new surroundings. Once you get your bearings, you notice a crucial detail that escaped your attention earlier.
“Where the hell is Jim?”
“He was grabbed not long after you,” Victoria replies. “No doubt he’s being put through his own test as we speak.”
“Then why didn’t you go after him?”
“It hardly seemed necessary, you were the one more likely to die. Your friend seems to find his own way of handling most-”
Victoria is interrupted by the sound of shattering glass as one of the mirrors high on the building bursts into shards. From the hole pours a pink waterfall that splashes into the dirt road, quickly turning the area to mud. As you watch, mouth slightly agape, Jim comes tumbling down the waterfall, landing with a bounce and coming up on his feet. He looks around for a moment, then spots the two of you and heads over.
“I gotta say, I’ve had better games of flip cup. ‘Course I’ve also had worse. So, pretty much a wash. How did you guys do?”
“He survived,” Victoria answers for you. “Merlin may be many things: dense, prideful, cowardly, inept-”
This is starting to hurt your feelings a bit.
“Aren’t you supposed to put good stuff in there too?” you remind her.
“I was getting there. You’re many things, but none could call you disloyal. Perhaps you were the best fit for guardian after all.”
You’re really not sure what Victoria means by that, which is pretty much par for the course, but you feel confident that it was meant as a compliment. Seeing as everyone made it out of that last one alive, you feel downright cheerful…until you realize you’re trapped in an evil Halloween amusement park.
“I guess we should head on to the next thing, huh?”
“Yes, it is time to move one step closer,” Victoria agrees. She gestures over to another white sign post, this one planted near the center of the circus area. You feel reasonably certain that wasn’t there earlier, but at this point you’re like “fuck it” and just walk over with her to check it out. This shit can only really surprise you so much before it becomes expected.
Like the signpost before, this one is also bone white with three arrows. Curiously, none of them are pointing to a place labeled as the exit or entrance. This is mildly worrying, since you’re no longer entirely certain which direction you came to the circus from. The landscape seems to be a touch more malleable than you’re accustomed to dealing with.
The options before you are “Abandoned House,” “Safe Zone,” and “Gates.”
“Don’t suppose you could actually tell us what any of these are?” You turn to Victoria, who is the picture of innocence.
“How could I? This is my first time here, just like you. Seeing as you found a useful attraction for us last time, I’ll trust you to make the selection once again.”
Since Jim is jumping open and down knocking pink water-a lot of pink water, actually-out of his ear, looks like this one is going to be up to you to decide.
Though it's early for tricks, I decided to treat you lovely readers to free copies of my new book, releasing Monday the 27th. Details on today's blog.