You are in the battlefield, casting your spells and swinging your swords and shooting your magic arrows, when, in the corner of your eye, you see Party.
Party, the little otter plush that Cuddle always carries around with her wherever she goes, lies in the middle of the battlefield. You look around – is Cuddle nearby? – but with the sweet otter nowhere in sight, you skid over to Party and hold her close to your chest.
“Where’s Cuddle?” you mutter to yourself. You look around, but it’s difficult to see anyone or anything in the flurry of battle. You decide to return Party to Cuddle, otherwise Cuddle will be scared without her favourite cuddling companion.
You retreat towards the heart of the Pond, towards the place where you found Cuddle last time.
But when you look down at Party to check on her, you stifle a yelp.
Your hands and your body are cloaked in darkness. But unlike the darkness that you have been fighting, the darkness that shrouds you isn’t laced with malice or ill-will. Rather, the darkness feels like a spell, like the protection spells that Varian cast on your armour.
And — Party, the plushie, is standing on her legs, wielding twin daggers in each hand.
Party? you whisper, incredulous.
Party raises a dagger to you, and then points towards the breach in the magical boundary. Before you can ask her what she means, Party jumps off your cupped hands and starts running towards the breach. When she notices that you don’t follow, she points at the breach again with her dagger.
You get the feeling that she wants you to follow her.
And so you do.
You burst through the magical boundary – and find yourself at the precipice of endless darkness. Before you is a chasm as dark and immense as the edge of the world. You can feel wicked and foul magic permeate the air here; the despair weighs heavily on your aches and your shoulders and the dread makes it hard to breathe.
Behind you is the Pond and its spherical boundary, glowing with a soft and gentle aura. You can feel your friends’ magic – all of their hopes, their love, their friendship, and their resolve to protect the friends that they care about. You feel that magic and light encapsulate you, protecting you from the darkness’s influences.
Ahead of you, Party beckons for you to follow with an urgent wave of her dagger.
You take a step forward, and feel your tether to the Pond dim. Another step, and you feel the darkness’s magic crash against your resolve like an unforgiving wave. With every step you take away from the Pond, the greater the darkness grows. And you cannot help but feel that distance. You are so far away from your friends, so far away from what is good, so far away from hope. You try and carry that hope with you, but that responsibility feels so heavy. And yet, you trudge on, following Party as she ventures further into the dark.
When the Pond is but a distant star, you feel it: the heart of the darkness.
You had imagined it to be a colossal thing, titanic in its size and its rage. But up close, it is so… small. And it is fearful, so fearful that it lusts for power and supremacy to quell its emptiness.
It makes your heart heavy to see such a small and wicked thing have so much power to cause so much destruction and pain.
But now you can end this.
You can save the Pond.
Sensing your intent, the darkness’s heart conjures shadowy enemies, blocking your path. And after weeks of battle and honing your magical ability, you sense that the darkness isn’t summoning these beings with its own magic. Party seems to notice this as well, and points with her dagger at the darkness. You follow the direction of her dagger, and see that the darkness is extracting magic from… a source. Magic so raw that it feels like the essence of a kind of magic.
The conjured shadows draw their weapons.
In response, Party lunges forward, her daggers alight, a small otter-shaped bullet firing forth to meet the enemy.
And just as you are about to yell out to Party, the warning dies on your tongue.
With magnificent speed, Party ricochets between the shadows like a pinball, unleashing a flurry of attacks. The shadows, bulky and slow, are unable to match her agility. You can’t quite catch her movements but you do catch the gleam of her daggers as she swipes there and slashes there. Her movements are swift, graceful, calculated.
As the shadows crumble defeated, more are summoned.
But the more the darkness conjures, the weaker and smaller the shadows become. Party is doing well for herself and seems to handle up to three giant shadows with ease, but she can’t do it alone. And she’s not alone. She brought you here for a reason.
You raise your weapon.
You’ve received a quest!
Party has brought you to the heart of the darkness. Help her defeat the shadows. Victory is near, friend. Now, fight for your friends! For the Pond!
Quest expires on: 29th February 2020, 9:00PM NZT [?]
- Read 10 pages to earn 2 points – and you successfully attack the shadows that stand before you. [Repeatable]
- In a tweet, Instagram post, or booktube video, mention or tag someone in the book community that you appreciate – someone that gives you hope, gives you strength, and makes the world a better place to earn 20 points – and you successfully find the strength to continue fighting. [Repeatable up to 5]
- Bonus: Talk about your favourite diverse book on social media OR a diverse book you are looking forward to reading — and you will cast a powerful spell that will obliterate a shadow and earn the quest reward item: A Dagger Named Valour!
- You must (a) mention the title, (b) mention the author’s name, and (c) briefly mention what the book is about and (d) why you love it/are excited to read it.