So first you need some background to my tale. I recently became interested in pixel games made through RPG makers (like Ib, Witch's House, and Mad Father) and liked to watch some play-throughs of them on youtube. When I downloaded Ib it said I had to download RPG Maker 2003 so I thought, "heck I can try my hand at making games like this". After I finished Ib and some others I loaded up RPG Maker 2003 and toyed around with the tools, getting used to it. It was actually pretty confusing so I took a break with my test world. I told my friends who were also into stuff like this, and much better with tech, about the program and we joked about becoming famous on the internet for making a great game.
About a month later I had to go out of town and asked my friend to take care of my dog for the week. After I got back from my trip I sent my friend a thank-you email and started to do my usual stuff on the web. After a while I went back to play around with RPG maker and saw that there was a new file named Zental. Confused but asuming my friend had left me a surprise I clicked on it but it wouldn't let me edit. Frustrated at my lack of tech knowledge I tried to play it and suprisingly it worked. The game loaded and the character started just outside a large forest of pixel trees.
Welcome to ZentalEdit
As I took in the screen and cheery music that had been placed for the area I grinned, had my friend done something awesome? I wanted to get a better look at the main character so I pulled up the menu which had the options: save, quit, inventory, options, and equip. I chose equip and was treated to a larger more detailed model of the character. Her name was Valkyrie, a name which my Nordic histroy nerd self knew very well, my friend had really done her research to amuse me. She wore some skimpy armor which I rolled my eyes at, sometimes my friends were so wierd, her hair was long blue black and in a spiked pony tail, her face was expressioness and even though it was low quailty and pixelated it gave me the creeps. She wielded a small dagger called Eir, I rolled my eyes again because in nordic that ment protection or help, my friend had really done the research. Closing out I started to move around.
The only place I could go was into the forest so I directed Valkyrie to the entrance and the screen changed. Inside the forest the music shifted to a slightly whistful if not haunting tune. "well that's some mood change" I though to myself as I scanned the screen. The color tone had changed and become darker but after playing something like Witch's House this didn't shock me, these pixel games can create alot of atmosphere afer all. As I moved forward a text box popped up saying:
- Have you come to judge us Valkyrie? Are we worthy? Or shall we rot within these woods forever more?
I read the message through and thought about what Nordic Valkyrie did... Judge warriors. As continued forward and the pixelated trees got larger and darker, the music was seriously getting to me so I took off my headphones and turned on some of my own music. I continued on till a new screen had to load, when I did my eyes widened. Before I could process what I had seen another textbox appeared:
- Aaah Valkyrie you have come. Welcome to my home, I am Herja. Welcome to Zental but may I warn you, none here are worthy. They are pathetic, they shall rot within my home forever more.
Another textbox appeared, this time it was Valkyrie speaking:
- Oh grand one I shall be the judge of the worthy, not you. I fear none and have been choosing for to long to turn away from this place, do not try to stop me.
As the textboxes faded away I got a good look at the screen, once more appreciating the atmosphere that these games can create. It was a large clearing, full of many moving NPCs seemingly fighting each-other in pairs, pillars and broken stone walls lined the edge and a path of stone ran down the middle. As I moved down the path I noticed more details, some of the fighting pairs seemed to be different. I went over and clicked on one of them, a text box showed:
- Oh grand Valkyrie am I not worthy? I have slain so many, yet SHE does not let me leave. Judge me worthy I beg of you so that I may leave and escape from this dead land
I tried to move after the textbox dissapeared but I couldn't, then a slight movement from Valkyrie and I jerked my head forward, it was hard to tell but it seemed that Valkyrie had stabbed the warrior with Eir then said:
- Do not beg, I judge you unworthy. You shall not ascend.
The warrior fell to the side and nothing happend when I clicked him. As I went back to the path it looked like the warriors moved more, maybe fighting harder to try to prove their worth? The path ended and another NPC sat atop a throne, I tried to move but again I couldn't then another message:
- Do you see now Valkyrie? They are pitiful, pathetic, they deserve to never ascend. To rot forever more within Zental, the home of Herja.
Unlike last time a textbox from the character appeared this one had a detailed picture. The woman had long, raven black hair that covered the majority of her face, what I could see of her face was a single green eye, cold and cynical, and part of a grim, mocking grin. I stared at the picture for a while, I had not been so actually unnerved by something from a game sense Corpse Party. More text appeared:
- Do you like my home Valkyrie? 'I think it fits me accordingly. Aaah I see you carry Eir, that is why you made it to me. Do not doubt me darling, I won't hurt you unless you threaten
This time my character spoke:
- I do not threaten. Yet, who has given you the right to judge? I have come to set a balance.
The sprite of Herja dissapeared from the throne and with a little shimmer effect appeared just behind Valkyrie. The screen flashed black and when it stopped the screen was different. Now I was in a dark room, or at least I that's what it looked like because I could only see Valkyrie. The screen flashed again, white this time, and Herja was there, she spoke:
- You come to my home and question me? You say that you do not threaten, you come here spinning lies with your silver tounge, do you think you can TRICK me, ME!? This is my home, my realm, you hold no power here. Oh Valkyrie you have over estimated your power, you should never have come.
Her picture had changed, the hair had been moved out of her face, seemingly half in movement. Her face was contorted with rage, both eyes wide with fury and her mouth still grinned, yet looked more like a grimace. From my discarded head phones came a high screeching sound that overpowered the music playing from my ipod. I, against my better nature, turned down the volume to almost nothing and put one earbud in to listen.
- I should kill you slowly and watch you cry for mercy. To see you, how says she fears none, cry out in terror would be more than satisfying.
Her picture changed again, she now seemed to be admiring a thin silver dagger.
- Oh my darling Skuld, I hope you thirst. Do you know what is coming? To drink lifeblood, you enjoy it don't you?
The screen then flashed black from my ear bud the sound of something piercing flesh, metal grinding against bone, again and again. Horrified I could do nothing but stare at the black screen as the sounds of death played into my ear. A textbox, along with a soft sound like crooning:
- .......eh....eh....eh... Do you like it darling? eh.....eh....eheheh...
I read the text, still numb as the chilling sound of metal scraping against bone, flesh, muscle still playing. The sound, I recognized it, it sounded so similar to a certian sound from Corpse Party. It made my stomach churn, it sounded so real. But in Corpse Party I had come to expect that kind of thing, this was cruel, unexpected and sickening.
- Sweet darling Skuld, isn't this one special. Special.....special..... She's so resilient, if you would just die.... it would end you know. eh...ehehe...
Herja's picture changed, her eyes wide with madness and joy her smile cold and cruel with blood splattering her pale face. I couldn't take it any more I went to exit out of the game, any way I could, but before I could the game closed itself. I stared at my screen for a few long minutes before doing anything.First thing I did was call my friend. She picked up and got an earfull. I shouted at her for a while until she was able to calm me down and get me to speak straight. "Why did you do that?! Why would you do that?!" I asked her, furious. "Woah what are you talking about? Calm down!" "You know what! That...thing you made in RPG Maker, Zental!" There was a long pause on her end. "Zen-what? Speak english." "Come over I'll show you or stop playing stupid." So she came over, steaming I turned back to my computer and booted up RPG maker, when I went to the load map file nothing was there. "Am I supposed to see something here?" "I....what.. it.... it's gone, there was this thing. I... I thought you made it." I stammered. "Honey I can't do anything with that program, I'm even worse than you with it, get some sleep it's pretty late, I'm going to go now."
After she left I didn't know what to do, that HAD happened. I started to panic, I wasn't going crazy, but it wasn't there and I KNEW that things like that couldn't delete themselves. I stayed awake all night, the sound of metal against bone looping in my head. "I'm not crazy. I'm not crazy. I'm not crazy. That, Zental, she Herja... Herja, Skuld! Those are norse names! I had to find out what they ment, both to show that at least in some way those things existed and to try to get my mind off the game. After some investigating I turned up that Herja in Old norse means, devastate... I let out a short cold laugh "yeah that sounds right." I then looked for Skuld, I found that it means, either blame or future. That made me pause, Herja makes sense but Skuld. "I...I don't understand...blame...future..." My overly paraniod mind took over, I just sat down hiding from the piercing green eyes and cold smile, from the sounds of death, from her. "It's just a game.....It's just a game" I repeated over and over.
Even now I live with the expierience hanging over me, I go to therapy, no one understands. They think I am mad. I cannot help, at times, think of the last text box, what Herja had said:
- If you would just die it would end
Would it, would the madness end?