Laughing, you pull the jug away from your lips. It's like some kind of practical joke: the only thing to consume in the Hall of Long Life is a neverending bottle of wine! Chuckling, you put it back to your lips and take one long, leisurely swallow after another. If there's a key at the bottom of this jug, you're never getting to it; if it opens some kind of trapdoor, you've got no idea where it is.\n\nA vivid mental image suddenly flashes in your brain. Picture this: you, a corpse, on your back, this goddamn jug of wine clutched in your lifeless hand. A group of explorers, thieves, and/or thrillseekers burst into the room, one of them holding aloft a lantern. Trembling, he assesses your deceased form. "My god," he whispers, from behind a big, bushy beard. "How did someone drink themselves to to death...//when they're surrounded by all this food?"//\n\nSomehow, it's so funny that you start howling with laughter. It's not even a good joke, but you roll around on the floor in conniptions, banging on the worn stone of the ground. Finally, you draw in a deep breath, wipe the tears away from your eyes, and try to pull yourself to your feet--but you dip and weave wildly, trying to keep your balance.\n\nWell, what did you expect? You're [[drunk!|drunk]]\n
And [[drink.|wine3]]
Christ, you're starving. The door to the entrance of the temple has been sealed tight by whatever infernal machinery powers this place, and there isn't any exit that you can see. The only thing you can do is crawl and tiptoe around all this delicious-looking-even-if-you-know-it's-fake food, searching vainly for some kind of clue.\n\nThere's nothing written down, anywhere. No cryptic tablets, no hints, no clues left by an altruistic priest or a trickster god. You crack a grin and try to make the best of it, reasoning that any clues would probably just be a trap anyway.\n\n//Is// the food fake? You concentrate hard, trying to make sense of the musty scents you can discern. You can swear you smell notes of freshly baked [[bread]], lingering over the deep scent of aged [[wine.|wine]]
<<set $deaths = 0>>With a powerful swing of your machete, the last of the vines falls away from your view. The temple looms up in front of you, standing tall and silent in the jungle.\n\nThe sun is just on the edge of peering above the horizon. One long, golden streak of light strikes the face of the carving above the entrance: it depicts a square-faced monster with sharp, saw-toothed teeth, whose upper jaw projects down into the doorway. The entrance is its gaping maw. \n\nYou've researched this place well, your shaking fingers passing over the pages of molding textbooks, your brain unable to concentrate on the lectures you ought to be giving instead. You've saved up your vacation time for a year, made your way halfway across the world on three flights and two boat rides, and at long last, here you are: you've arrived at the altar of carnage.\n\n''The Temple''\nby madamluna\n\nYou [[enter|entrance]].
You throw yourself at the jet of flames, hoping it will trigger some kind of mechanism! Unfortunately, it doesn't, but it does manage to singe your suit and your hair. You roll out of the way before it gets any worse, and flop directly into the pit of spikes.\n\nThankfully, you catch yourself on them and make your way back to the [[beginning,|wonder2]] feeling very foolish all the while.
Your bleary eyes close, and you fall backwards into the ash, air hissing out of your lungs. You let out a long, low moan as you deflate on the floor, the air shimmering and humming with the unbearable light of a sightless sun.\n\nIn the Hall of the Sun, you [[die.|sundeath]]
You look at yourself. Sand still clings to your elbows, mixed with the faint traces of melted gold. There are cuts on your hands from where you gripped tight to the swinging pendulum. And you stink of wine.\n\nYou press down into the words "HALL OF HELL," almost as if you're just curious to see what will happen. What happens is that a portion of the floor quietly slides away--not underneath you, but a few feet ahead of you, and to the side. \n\nFrom what you can see, it's a set of stairs. The steps catch the moonlight, and recede down into the darkness. You kneel down by the edge of the stairway, leaning down and listening.\n\nFaintly, you can hear the sounds of grinding machinery. The acrid scent of sulfur seeps into your nostrils. Your eyes widen, your heart pounds thump-//THUMP// and you immediately start to fantasize about lies in wait in the Hall of Hell. What kind of infernal machinery could be worse than the traps of the Hall of Wonders, or the humiliation of the Hall of Long Life, or the slow burn of the Hall of the Sun?\n\nYou stare into the darkness, and at the very end of the stairway you can see the faint, faint reddish-yellow glow of flames. \n\nYou [[descend.|end]]
Maybe the stone column will stop the boulder in its path! You try to cling to it, anchoring it to the ground. But the machinery of the temple is far stronger than you are, and it pulls away from your grasp, sending you hurtling into the spikes below.\n\nYou're used to dealing with spikes by now, though. It hurts your ego more than your body as you make your way back to the [[start.|wonder2]]
<<if $sundeath>>\nYou hit the ground with a wet //thud.// A rush of cool air envelops you, and you stir slowly on the brick. Gradually, the haze in front of your eyes clears, and you sit up. Your flushed body is covered in an opalescent mixture of ash and sweat, with the sheen of melted gold.\n\nYou blink, your eyes slowly adjusting to the dimness of the room. A little to your right is a jug of cool, clear water, smooth and serene as a forest's lake. You lunge for it like an animal and lift it to your trembling mouth...\n\nAnd let out a howl of frustration as the flat surface of glass bumps into your lips. \n<<endif>>\n\nThis room is filled to the brim with food, heaped up on golden plates and stacked nearly as high as the ceiling itself. Whole chickens, clusters of grapes, loaves of bread, sweet flowers and fruit cover nearly every square inch of the room. It's a dazzling sight, but you know better: there's no way that any food in here would have survived throughout the centuries. Despite that, your stomach rumbles and you start to salivate. Maybe it's the jungle heat getting to you, but all this food looks good enough to eat.\n\nStanding alone in the abandoned banquet hall, the only sound that of your own beating heart and [[rumbling stomach|longlife2]], you realize you must be in the the ''HALL OF LONG LIFE.''
''THE END''
<<set $lldeath = true>><<set $deaths = $deaths + 1>>You try to steady yourself on the golden plates, then the tables, but you're so inebriated that you end up knocking everything over instead. The fake food clatters to the ground and shatters into pieces of painted ceramic, and the golden plates are bent out of shape. The sight of you bumbling around a treasure hoard, drunkenly destroying priceless artifacts makes you laugh even harder, and you gasp for air as you tumble backwards into the mess.\n\n<<if $deaths eq 3>>\nYou're laughing so hard you can't get any air, and tears are starting to fill your eyes. Here's the best part: //you're still clutching that jug of wine.// That does it: [[you've laughed yourself to death.|altar]]\n\nAs you pass out, you feel something click under your body, and you tumble backwards into nothingness. That's one for the history books.\n<<else>>\nYou're laughing so hard you can't get any air, and tears are starting to fill your eyes. Here's the best part: //you're still clutching that jug of wine.// That does it: [[you've laughed yourself to death.|wonders]]\n\nAs you pass out, you feel something click under your body, and you tumble backwards into nothingness. That's one for the history books.<<endif>>
<<if $wondeath>>You climb and climb for what feels like ages, and it's dark enough that you can't tell where you've been or where you're going. As you take one more step, your weight pressing down into a stone switch, the floor pulls out from under you and sends you tumbling head over heels into the ''HALL OF THE SUN.''\n\nYou land softly, on something that shifts beneath you easily and feels like very fine dust, or possibly [[sand]]. You pull yourself to your feet, shaking it off, and peer into the darkness. You wait for your eyes to adjust, but within moments, a dim glow of light illuminates the room.\n<<else>>\nYou enter a small, dark stone room, about the size of a generous closet, and with very few defining features--there is nothing inside except a few cobwebs and the musty smell of stale air. With a hideous creaking sound, a stone door falls shut behind you, and at the same time, the ground underneath you pulls out, sending you tumbling head over heels into the ''HALL OF THE SUN.''\n\nYou land softly, on something that shifts beneath you easily and feels like very fine dust, or possibly [[sand]]. You pull yourself to your feet, shaking it off, and peer into the darkness. You wait for your eyes to adjust, but within moments, a dim glow of light illuminates the room.\n<<endif>>
And [[drink.|wine4]]
You touch the word GO. It gives under your fingers, and you press it in. In response, a portion of the wall slides up with the grinding of stone on stone. \n\nBizarrely, although you can clearly see the jungle beyond the doorway, you cannot hear any of its sounds--not the keening whine of cicadas, not the wind through the trees, not the singing of distant birds. All you can hear is the pounding of blood in your ears.\n\nYou stand in the doorway, looking.\n\nThe plane will pick you up tomorrow morning. By afternoon the day after you will be home again, mired in papers to grade, lectures to give, colleagues to dislike and academic politics to wear at your patience. The feel of the burning sun and the taste of wine will be only memories, and it scares you...\n\nYou [[leave.|end]]
You plant your heels firmly on the other side, weave back and forth, and finally catch yourself. You pause to wipe the sweat from your eyes and glance over your shoulder. As you watch, the boulder gains speed, bounces over the pit of spikes, and hurtles straight towards you.\n\nOh, there are also [[five|nope]] [[new|nope]] [[platforms|wonder5]] in [[front|nope]] of [[you.|nope]] Your eyes flicker over them, searching feebly for any sign that they're the right one.
The Temple
You leap to the pendulum and hold tight to the stem of it, balancing yourself precariously on the blade. As it swings from side to side, you make a strong leap and roll onto it safely.\n\nYou've done it! Finally! You've made it to the end of the Hall of Wonders! You turn around and around, frantically looking for the exit as the boulder hurtles towards you on its path. But there's nothing here. No doors, no latches, no tricks--nothing but a corridor straight above your head, leading up into some other part of the temple, but far too high for you to reach.\n\nYour body trembles and your blood pounds in your head. What are you going to do? [[Lay down and die?|wonder7]]
<<set $wondeath = true>><<set $deaths = $deaths + 1>>You do it. You quickly lay down against the wall and brace yourself to be crushed into a fine paste against the wall. The boulder hurtles towards you, making your body shake and your teeth clatter--\n\n--and it slams into the wall right above your head. You shrink into the corner as it grinds into the stone wall with a hideous sound, not quite able to crush you, but forcing itself tight against your stomach and chest. \n\nAs the echo fades away, you start wriggling back and forth, trying to squirm your way out from behind the enormous rock. It's hard, and by the time you're finished you feel more dead than alive, but you're able to climb on top of it and collapse onto your back, panting for breath.\n\n<<if $deaths eq 3>>\nYou're nearly at the top of the room, and it's no problem for you to reach that corridor you saw earlier. Steeling yourself, you [[climb.|altar]]\n<<else>>\nYou're nearly at the top of the room, and it's no problem for you to reach that corridor you saw earlier. Steeling yourself, you [[climb.|sun]]\n<<endif>>
Shit! The platform buckles and crumbles under your weight, and you plunge into the pit of spikes. Thank God, you manage to catch yourself on them, wrapping your fingers around their smooth, dangerous forms. Lucky, lucky you. You lick your lips.\n\nUnfortunately, the platform you were on is too high to reach. Carefully, you climb from spike to spike all the way back to the [[beginning.|wonder2]]
.passage .title { display: none }\n
You've done it! You make it to the next platform, and there's still a little time to catch your breath before you make your next decision. \n\nIn front of you, suspended over the pit of spikes, two razor-sharp pendulums slice through the air rhythmically, //whip-whip, whip-whip//. Quick, jump [[now!|nope]] No wait, [[now!|nope]] [[Now!|wonder4]]
The air in the temple is cool and damp. It sinks in through your clothes and clings stubbornly to your body, already soaked with sweat. The first rays of the climbing sun illuminate your outline, casting your silhouette wide against the opposite wall. In the wall are three dark doorways. \n\nYou remember the names of the rooms they lead to, but not necessarily which one is which. You comb your memory...\n\nThe HALL OF THE SUN is rumored to be filled to the brim with golden treasure, hence its name. Although many have tried to pilfer its riches, none have succeeded, and those who have returned have been unable to speak of what they've seen.\n\nThe HALL OF LONG LIFE, according to the records you've read, functioned as the storehouse for those who lived in the area. \n\nAll that is known of the last room is its name: the HALL OF WONDERS.\n\nShall you take the [[left|sun]] door, the [[center|wonders]] door, or the [[right|longlife]] door?
...You have arrived in a small, quiet room, much like the entrance to the temple itself. A hole in the ceiling creates an oculis through which the moon shines, illuminating a worn and dusty altar with its rays. When you arrived, it was sunrise: how long have you been here?\n\nYou creep forward silently and blow the dust off of the altar. You can make out raised characters in the stone, and you draw on your (slightly rusty) knowledge of the language to make sense of it. It reads something like this:\n\n//Those who die thrice and yet still move\nHave entered in this sacred place; \nWhat obligations have you left?\nWhat vicious conquests on your mind\nHave led you here to show your face?\n\nHumiliations forced upon you,\nA thousand tortures you know well\nExist to weed the foolish out\nFrom wiser men. Your selfish aims\nWill lead you to the [[HALL OF HELL.|hell]]\n\nBut if you wish to exit here\nAnd head back to the world you know,\nYou have one chance to turn and leave.\nThink carefully, and make your choice.\nKnow yourself, look 'round, and [[GO.|exit]]//\n\nSome words of the poem are raised, and it looks as if you can push them. Your hand gravitates, but to which one?
The sunrise is only one part of a large panorama, and you follow the faint lines around the room, nearly nose-to-nose with your reflection. The level of detail in the artwork is astonishing: a pair of birds of paradise fly over the canopy of the jungle, whose leaves and vines have been etched in immaculate detail. You crouch close to the ground; you can make out what nearly looks like a panther, disguised among the trunks of the trees.\n\nYou pull away from the wall and rub at your eyes. The [[light]] has grown stronger and stronger, and staring at the walls has begun to leave spots in your eyes.
You run your fingers over the walls frantically, searching for anything that might reveal a clue. As you circle around and around, your eyes open just enough to make out what you're looking at, you work the images into your memory: the sunrise over the temple, the birds of paradise, the canopy, the panther...\n\nYou let out a long, low growl of frustration, putting your hands over your eyes to try and shut out the mounting light. How can it be so strong? It must be brighter than a hundred halogen lamps, and you could swear it's starting to cook you from the inside out. Your skin prickles with the sensation of sweat running down your legs, and you begin to pull at your shirt. Your jacket's long since been discarded on the sand. \n\nYou press at the walls with your slick fingers, claw at them, [[pound|walls2]] on them. \n
Almost there! Only one last jump before you reach the end of the Hall of Wonders. You don't bother looking behind you this time: instead, you draw in a breath, steel yourself for the worst, and look down in front of you to see how many options you have.\n\nYou let out that breath of relief: there's only one. But it's too far away to jump to, and on top of that, it's guarded by another swinging [[pendulum,|wonder6]] a [[jet of flames,|nopeflames]] and a [[piston]] to try and force you off the platform. Any bright ideas?
<<set $deaths = $deaths + 1>><<set $sundeath = true>>When you were a child, you heard that travellers in the frozen North would often die of the cold. In the snow and tundra, they would feel a beautiful, blissful feeling of warmth overcome them, the only pleasure afforded to a dying man. As you feel a faint gust of air on your cheek, you wonder if it works the other way around.\n\n<<if $deaths eq 3>>\nYou turn over and over in the ash like a fish, your hand brushing against the brick. Something wet and warm clings to your fingers, and you press against the brick feebly as it drips down your arm. With the last of your strength, you jab some part of the wall, and it opens. You roll unresistingly into the cool, damp darkness. [[Not a bad way to go.|altar]]\n<<else>>\nYou turn over and over in the ash like a fish, your hand brushing against the brick. Something wet and warm clings to your fingers, and you press against the brick feebly as it drips down your arm. With the last of your strength, you jab some part of the wall, and it opens. You roll unresistingly into the cool, damp darkness. [[Not a bad way to go.|longlife]]\n<<endif>>
You grab one of the loaves of bread. Astonishingly, the crust is soft and warm in your grasp! You squeeze it gently, and the hair on the back of your neck stands up as it gives way with the gentle //crack crack crack//ing of freshly baked bread. \n\nWithout hesitation, you bite into it. You tear the crust away so quickly you practically choke on it. But there's nothing underneath: the bread is hollow, ashen, and it crumples in your mouth and in your grasp, leaving a sour, dry taste on your tongue. You try your hardest to spit it out.\n\nWell, there's always the [[wine.|wine]]
You were sweating when you made your way into the temple, and you haven't stopped. You groan as you press the heels of your thumbs into your eyes, trying to rub away the spots, and sweat begins to drip down your arms and fall onto the sand.\n\nThe heat is growing. You blink and glance around at the room, but you can't see the source of the light. Wherever it's coming from, it's being trapped inside, and the white sand is so bright that it's almost impossible to look at. Even if you screw your eyes as tight as you can, the room is a blur of white on yellow, and the air is starting to waver like water. \n\nYou brace yourself against the wall, your heart starting to pound in your chest. You let out a hiss through your teeth as you sink to the ground. Even with your eyes shut, the light comes through, turning your vision redder and redder. \n\nFumbling, you begin to feel your way along the beautiful [[walls]].
You lope around the room, trying to choke down lungfuls of stale, humid, suffocating air. Sand sticks to your knees and calves as you kneel on the ground, pounding on each segment of the wall in turn. One of them rings hollow; you'd love to know which one, but even opening your eyes is too much to bear.\n\nYou feel the gold begin to melt against your hands. Your head reels and you fall back, scrabbling in the sand feebly for anything that might help--a latch, a trap door, a canteen of water--\n\n--and then it dawns on you why you haven't seen any bodies. Shaking, you raise your hands to your face and brush them together, spreading the ash of a thousand lost corpses over your palms.\n\nIt's getting hotter. You should probably [[do something.|passout]]\n\n
You expect this powdery substance to be the worst possible thing--spider eggs, maybe, or poison dust--but it's nothing but fine white sand. It covers the bottom of the room like a carpet.\n\nThe light in the room grows brighter and brighter, and you realize that the Hall of the Sun, first of all, isn't very large. If the entrance was the size of a closet, this is only three or four times that. The room glows warmly, and you realize that, aside from the sand, there's nothing in this chamber--but the walls, all eight of them, are mirrored with polished gold. \n\nEtched into the gold are faint lines. You rub at them with a filthy thumb, darkening the faint grooves enough to make out the [[illustration]] of a sunrise over the top of the temple. \n
The game's begun! You take a leap onto the next platform and just barely manage to make the jump. Adrenaline beats in your heart and clears your head, and you can feel a perverse grin spread across your face. That's what you came all this way to feel!\n\nThe boulder's grinding across the spikes behind you, and you have to make another jump. Quick! Do you jump to the [[left|nope]] or the [[right?|wonder3]]
<<if $lldeath>>You wake up with a splitting skullache, bleary eyes, and the faint traces of dizziness still hanging around your head. You're crumpled up in a heap, and there are a few stray plates and pieces of fake food clustered around your body. Looks like you had quite a fall.\n\nSlowly, with trembling arms, you push yourself to your feet. Thank God, you can actually walk now--mostly. As the haze clears from your head, you stare down the long, long corridor in front of you.\n\nAs your eyes adjust to the dim light of torches lining the walls, you can see that a series of platforms extends into the darkness. You creep to the edge of the one you're on and peer downwards: spikes. Nothing special. Just spikes.\n\nYou glance behind you, then above, and back down the hall. This //is// what you signed up for, but where's the thrill? The sense of urgency? The action? Just when you're about to apathetically make the easy jump, your foot catches onto a hidden latch in the stone. \n\n//chunk.....chunk.//\n\nThere's the hideous grind of stone on stone from behind you, and as you glance over your shoulder, you see a huge, craggy [[boulder|wonder2]] drop from the wall down onto the floor. Welcome to the ''HALL OF WONDERS!''\n<<else>>\nAs your eyes adjust to the dim light of torches lining the walls, you can see that a series of platforms extends into the darkness. You creep to the edge of the one you're on and peer downwards: spikes. Nothing special. Just spikes.\n\nYou glance behind you, then above, and back down the hall. This //is// what you signed up for, but where's the thrill? The sense of urgency? The action? Just when you're about to apathetically make the easy jump, your foot catches onto a hidden latch in the stone. \n\n//chunk.....chunk.//\n\nThere's the hideous grind of stone on stone from behind you, and as you glance over your shoulder, you see a huge, craggy [[boulder|wonder2]] drop from the wall down onto the floor. Welcome to the ''HALL OF WONDERS!''<<endif>>
You lift the jug of wine to your lips. It smells like the real thing, and is beautifully deep and dark. You're no connoisseur, but you are //thirsty,// and you swallow it down with long, greedy gulps into your waiting stomach. \n\nNothing happens. At least, not at first. You stare into the rest of the jug, waiting for yourself to drop dead, or for a hatch to open, or things to explode...but there's nothing.\n\nShrugging, you [[drink.|wine2]]