At great personal cost and after many salt tears, I’ve passed the fifth level of Battlespire. At last that purgatorial desert of corruption, pain, and empty fugue-lives falls behind me; ahead is the Promised Land, a garden metropolis where savegames may be plucked from hanging vines and death means nothing at all. I strike my first new save in weeks, its name reflecting my summery mood.
I will say, my first glimpse of level six doesn’t sing “long-awaited paradise.” I see broad canyons choked with fog, stretching out into smaller trickles that bubble into mobbed-out dead ends. Level design is communication, and right now I’m hearing loud and clear, “we’re going to give you a few moments to get your breath before a carny standing offscreen throws in fistfuls of mooks.”
Speaking of things the game dumps on you long after you could reasonably want more of it, you know those half-naked ladies who’ve been attacking me for a few levels? Well, apropos of nothing, one of them is now trying to Seduce me.
I guess I must be really sexy or something, that this Seducer Oathkin has taken a sudden innocent interest in my mortal jank. “Oh, I just…love mortal boners. They’re so, uh, quaint. It’s really sexy how inert and three-dimensional they are. And they only last, like, eight hours. So how many of your penises are erect right now?”
The most subversive, mature, and genre-defying thing that could possibly happen here would be if we had a mutual attraction that culminated in a casual but respectful and overall pleasurable encounter. We could make each other breakfast, watch the morning news, discuss our unexpected shared love of knitting patterns based on TV shows, and exchange secondary e-mail addresses before going about our lives. Or resuming beating each other to death. Whichever.
Anyway, we’ll never know. I’m just enough of an embittered cynic that when a busty seducer demon suggests we do the frick in the middle of a war zone, the main thing she arouses…is suspicion. I politely turn her down, and then she gets stuck in a wall. So I guess it wouldn’t have worked out after all. All my family and career opportunities lie outside this particular wall.
So there’s these big, impressive, elaborately furnished gates between me and the rest of the level. I have no key to open them, and discover nothing in the way of relevant buttons, levers, or switches lodged in the countryside. Of course, that’s me being a dumb-dumb. I’m sure somebody as perspicacious as yourself will have no trouble figuring out how to open the door. I’ll give you a hint: everything I need is in this next screenshot. Take your time; this is the internet.
Well? Think you’ve got the answer?
I don’t mean to be rude, but don’t think maybe that’s a bit stupid?
Well, sorry, I’m just saying–I mean, that would sort of come out of nowhere. How would I be supposed to figure that out?
I mean, sure, I guess it’s possible. God knows anything’s possible in this game, but…you know what? Fine. Let me hit “use” on that one specific pole for no reason. Now, we–
Well, I’ll be damned. The giant pole turned out to be a log that wasn’t rooted into the ground, and pressing “use” turned out to push it over so that it fell towards the gate and knocked one of the doors open, despite the fact that this sort of gate would presumably bar shut or at least have some kind of lock or at least not have siege measures adequate to knocking it open staged pointlessly outside. But then, I’m not a daedric civil engineer.
On an unrelated note, looks like I’m finally about to score Baby Bop’s autograph!
NEXT WEEK: GETTING KEYED UP
The true story of three strange days in 1989, when the last months of my adolescence ran out and the first few sparks of adulthood appeared.
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