Choose Your Own Adventure

Illustration by Catboy Revolution

You’re a brave adventurer, but you need to take on a big quest to truly be immortalized in history.

You head to the town’s quest board and find yourself sifting through a variety of tasks. Brunhilde needs someone to deliver a letter — you’re no mere courier. Arnwald needs someone to retrieve his runaway goat — you don’t work with animals. Old Man Hafnir is overdue for his annual sponge bath — noooooo thank you.

After skimming through all the available missions before you, you narrow your choices down to two: Lady Hildegard’s son has been kidnapped! And a great dragon is devastating the Southern Lands.

Do you: Find Lady Hildegard’s son? Go to Lady Hildegard’s House. Defeat the Mighty Dragon? Go to the Crossroads.

LADY HILDEGARD’S HOUSE: So, you’ve decided to find Lady Hildegard’s son. You knock on the door of Lady Hildegard’s house, and soon after a servant answers the door. You are shown into the foyer where, moments later, Lady Hildegard herself enters.

“Really?” she asks. “My son goes missing, and the best we can find is some half-wit with a rusty sword? Fine, here’s all the info you need to find my son. Now get on with it — you’re stinking up the entire residence!”

Flipping through the dossier, you find that her poor feeble son is actually a 27-year-old dudebro advocating for the expulsion of all the elves from the kingdom. He claims their magics are sinister and unholy, but really you know he’s just too dim to grasp the concept and is overcome with jealousy.

He’s better off kidnapped. You abandon the quest immediately and decide to slay the dragon instead.

What? We only have four pages — you really think I’m gonna give you that many options? Get your ass to theCrossroads.

CROSSROADS: You continue out of town and suddenly see the missing goat — not your problem. Soon enough you find a fork in the road. Both paths lead to the Southern Lands eventually. The left has a pit stop at a roadside spa, whereas the right is a more direct route.

Do you: Go left to the Roadside Spa. Go not left to the Mountainside Pass.

ROADSIDE SPA: Ahhhhh~ you take a nice hot bath in the spa. No Lords or Ladies will be insulting your smell anymore! Before you prepare to continue your quest, an attendant asks if you’d like the "royal treatment" for just a few extra gold.

Do you: Get treated like royalty and pay for theRoyal Treatment. Continue your quest. Quick! To the Mountainside Pass!

ROYAL TREATMENT: You decided to get the royal treatment. Just like the pamphlet said, you’re to be wined and dined, massaged and all around treated like a true monarch. Unfortunately, this spa is French, so their royal treatment heavily involves a guillotine. Your journey ends.

MOUNTAINSIDE PASS: As you trudge onward and southward, the terrain rises ahead of you. Soon, you find yourself staring at the Great Barricade — a chain of mountains so tall, few have ever reached their peaks. Luckily, a small road makes its way through a narrow pass in the mountainside. However, legend tells of a great artifact at the peak of one of these mountains. Many signs warn of the dangers of climbing the mountain. Do you risk life and limb to climb anyway?

Do you: Fuck the warnings — you can’t read anyway! Climb Mount Gray. Ignore the legend and continue through the pass to the Enchanted Forest.

MOUNT GRAY: You’re really going for it huh? Are you sure? Not too late to turn around! Wait, there isn’t a “turn around” option here? Oh… I guess it is too late to turn around. Let’s make it official. A, uh, a rock slide happens behind you cutting off access to the path down the mountain. The only way forward is upward. You climb and climb and rest for a minute and climb some more.

A storm approaches, and you can see it’ll be a nasty one — but the peak is in sight! You head straight for it and see something glimmering right at the top. Rain is pouring around you at this point, and you can barely see in front of you. As you near the metal artifact, the hair on your back stands on end. You can feel the electricity in the air.

Do you: Reach out and grab the Metal Artifact. Dive for cover from the Lightning Bolt.

METAL ARTIFACT: You reach for the artifact just as a powerful bolt of lightning comes crashing down. This is it. This is the end. This dumb artifact was little more than a lightning rod. Everything goes white. You feel the electricity surge through your body as your muscles tense. Then, before you know it, the sensation is gone. A gentle, warm wind welcomes you.

You open your eyes to find yourself standing outside a small Picturesque Cottage.

LIGHTNING BOLT: You see the pole in front of you. It’s little more than a lightning rod! How many brave adventurers have suffered a massive shock after reaching out to grab the rod? Well, that won’t happen to you! Without a second thought, you dive out of the way and toward a small overhang to avoid the lightning. Unfortunately, the lightning comes in too quickly. The massive shock is paralyzing and adds to your momentum. Your body is flung far from the peak, and your only sensation is falling — and only for a second. Your journey ends.

ENCHANTED FOREST: The mountainside pass made the journey much smoother, but it still wasn’t quite easy. You avoided the pinpoint turns and steep cliffs that you’d have had to endure trudging straight through the mountains, but the path was still treacherous. Finally, you see the end as the pass opens up into a large forest. The forest has a reputation for being like a labyrinth, and sure enough you soon begin wondering if you've already passed by this tree. As you wander aimlessly, you come upon a lovely stream. Your throat begs for hydration, but you used up all your water trudging through the perilous mountainside pass.

The stream gurgles and you take a refreshing sip. The water is cold from mountain ice, and you feel the energy surge back into you. Time to continue the quest! As you walk, you hear laughter. You turn and demand whoever is there show themselves. Suddenly, a nymph splashes out of the stream, giggling.

“What do we have here? An adventurer on a brave quest,” she says. “Many adventurers seek help from magical creatures such as myself, are you to do the same?”

Seek Assistance. Carry on Without Assistance.

ASSISTANCE: You relent, and ask the nymph what sort of assistance she would provide. She giggles again — far too much giggling for your patience to handle much longer. Suddenly, she produces a map that shows you the exact way forward.

You take the map without hesitation and follow it to a Picturesque Cottage.

WITHOUT ASSISTANCE: Nymphs are known to be deceptive — you certainly know better than to trust them! You decline their help and continue marching onward. Suddenly, you hear a shout from behind.

“How dare you!?” you hear the nymph scream. “I offer up my services, the least you could do is be polite! You’re just another haughty adventurer with an ego the size of an elephant! Well, I’m done being helpful. And as for you…”

You aren’t quite sure what an elephant is. Before you can think on it further though, you feel a magical tingling. Then a burst of color as you can feel your mind warping.

“I just thought I’d help you out anyway,” she cackled. “Impart some wisdom.”

As the colors fade, you look around and realize you’re standing on a giant gridded mat of some sort. Four giants tower above you, each one more gruesome than the last. They seem to be rolling giant multi-sided dice and raving about something called “min-maxing” and how terrible it is. You realize you’re nothing more than a game to them, and that’s the last straw of your sanity. It’s almost as if you can physically feel your mind snap. Your journey ends.

PICTURESQUE COTTAGE: You approach a picturesque cottage in a clearing in the wood. Looking around, you see a field of wheat and animals near a barn. There’s a small herb garden to the side of the cottage, tended to by a handsome young man. He smiles at you and waves, beckoning you nearer.

“What brings you out here, adventurer?” he asks, his smile enough to bring light to even the darkest of caverns. “Off to slay that dragon that’s been tormenting the towns just south of here?”

You nod. As a protagonist, you're not allowed to actually speak, no matter the situation.

“Well, you look woefully unequipped to fight that dragon. Tell you what, let’s get you some supplies.”

You follow along as the man leads you inside. The cottage is dark — pitch black, even — and as your eyes adjust you have just enough time to make out the runes on the walls and the liquids bubbling in vials. Then, you’re hit with a powder.

“I do need some help around the farm…” you hear the man say.

You feel yourself shrinking and morphing, your body sprouting a grayish brown fur. You run outside, but it’s too late. Collapsing by a puddle, you see the reflection of a donkey staring back at you. The man comes running out at you, but you aren’t about to spend the rest of your donkey life pulling a plough! You run.

Do you: Abandon the quest — you’re a goddamn donkey! Go Home. Continue the quest and go to the Dragon’s Lair.

HOME: You trod your way back home, pissed as all hell. Before you go, you see another adventurer zap into existence in front of the cottage and the man abandons his chase for you, turning his attention to the next victim. You don’t care, you keep walking on.

You pass the nymph as she smiles and waves. You kick her right in the gut and she falls back into the water. She screams something about an elephant, but you keep walking.

A storm has settled upon the mountainside pass, lighting striking the peak of Mount Gray. You’re soaked, but you’re so angry the water seems to practically boil off of you.

You walk past the roadside spa. They’re serving macarons and cleaning off a few blades. They mutter something about cake and the bourgeois, but you pay them no mind.

You march your way back into town, biting Lady Hildegard in the leg as you go by. Fuck that bitch.

You immediately go to the quest board and tear the “Slay the Dragon” posting from the board. You don’t even throw it on the ground. You eat it. You’re a donkey.

Before you can do anything else, you see the man from the cottage again. He walks up and hammers in another posting just out of your reach: “Arnwald needs someone to retrieve his runaway donkey.”

He gives you a wink and walks away. Within just a few minutes, an adventurer walks up. She looks through the postings, grumbles something about animals being difficult to work with, and walks off toward Lady Hildegard’s house. Your journey ends.

DRAGON’S LAIR: After trudging through burned fields and ruined towns, you find the center of the destruction. You approach the dragon’s lair — a huge cavern into complete darkness. The smell of sulfur wafts from deep within, and you know the dragon is nested upon its hoard.

You brave the cold darkness, your hooves clipping and clopping the whole way through. You’re a hero, goddammit, and you’re gonna be the best damn donkey hero the world has ever seen. But as you enter the realm of the great dragon, you’re completely taken aghast. They’re beautiful — effervescent and unworldly. Human or donkey, there’s no way you could ever bring yourself to slay such a magnificent being.

After brief introductions, the dragon offers you some wine and fills a gilded chalice with the liquid. You struggle to hold it with your hooves, but manage to drink.

Two years later, and the two of you have happily wed. You accompany your draconic spouse on their devastating escapades, and you instruct them to pay special attention to the residents of the Enchanted Forest or, as it’s now called, the Charred Lands.

Flying alongside you are your donkey-dragon children — all eleven of them. You've even befriended an ogre! You’ve achieved what no other hero before you ever has. You are at peace (however chaotic). Your journey has ended.