Level 65 - "Bloodstained Garden"
rating: +13+x

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Feb should be here any minute.

Why are you so scared?

There's nothing out here that can hurt you.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

God. Where the hell is Feb?

That sound was just the wind, right?

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Feb?

A bloody smile forms in the darkness.

"Aaaaaaaaahhhh"

"Boo!" The teenage girl with a black skirt and a heavy blue jacket walks into the moonlight. Her blood-covered teeth glinting.

"Feb, what to fuck."

"You scream like a girl, Jamie."

"Feb, why are you covered in blood?"

"It's not blood, idiot. Well. Maybe it is blood, but it's just from these apples." She laughs.

"Feb, I don't think you should be eating random shit you find here, especially if they're covered in blood."

"But they're so good! They're like this perfect combination of sweet and savory. You should really try them, Jamie."

"Okay. Fine. But if this ends up killing me, I'm haunting you after death."

"Hah. Good luck with that. I feel like you'd be even less scary in death than you are now, and I don't think I need to remind you what happened last time you tried to scare me."

"I'm never going to live that down, am I?"

"It's all in good fun. Now take a bite!"

He pauses, his mouth on the apple.

"Feb, are you okay?"

"Yeah, I just h—"

She begins vomiting blood, and the weeds and shrubs seem to lean into the splatter as if trying to catch a taste.

"Feb?!"

Her skin begins splitting, revealing a hard shell underneath. The plates of bone shift. Limbs split and multiply, transforming into short incurving pincers. She lets out a ghastly scream as her face begins to distort, stretching and ripping as the flesh is rearranged. Her new mouth moves as if trying to speak, but it can no longer form human words. The newly birthed centipede quivers on the ground until suddenly, with a violent twitch, it charges at Jamie.

Jamie screams, running into the forest, trying desperately to outrun his pursuer. For a moment, it looks like he can, but as he slows to catch a breath, the arthropod nips his ankle, taking a chunk of flesh with it.

He falls, and the centipede is upon him, tearing, ripping at his skin until all that's left is a bloody pulp. The clump of flesh writhes helplessly in agony as the new creature feasts on it for hours.




SURVIVAL DIFFICULTY:

Class 4

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gates-of-eden.jpg

The entrance to Level 65 from The Crimson Forest.

Description:

Level 65 is a persistently foggy forest that contains a variety of different types of deciduous trees, primarily of species that are not believed to be found in the Frontrooms. All of the trees in the level seem to have undergone a standard Autumn color change, each with their leaves turning a blood-red hue. These blood-red leaves sometimes fall off the trees and can be found littering the ground.

A thick, humid fog permeates throughout the level; so much so that the sky has never been spotted, though it is suspected that there is some sort of light source above the fog, as the entire level is in a constant state of dim twilight. The level has no other weather aside from cool winds, which blow intermittently, keeping the level constantly at relatively chilly temperatures.

The trees in the level seem to be partially carnivorous, subsisting partially off the bodies of wanderers who get lost or die there, with bodies being absorbed into the ground mere hours after their death. In addition to the trees, there is some fauna consisting mostly of oversized bugs, most notable giant centipedes that have been seen growing to over 6 feet (2 meters) long.

Notable Flora and Fauna:

Blood-Apple Trees:

blood-apple-trees.jpg

A cluster of blood-apple trees.

The blood-apple trees appear in clumps of evenly spaced rows, each about 15 feet (5 meters) apart from one another. They bear fruit that looks similar to that of a standard Frontrooms apple tree but is around 1.5-2 times larger and takes on a blood-red hue, hence the name. When blood-apples are punctured, they exude a viscous liquid that bears visual and palatal similarity to animal blood.

Shortly after eating blood-apples, wanderers begin feeling sick and start vomiting blood. They then begin an irreversible transformation into one of the level's centipedes. At this point, they begin acting violently, and it can be assumed that any remnant of their humanity is no longer there. It is unknown if all of the level's centipedes are wanderers who have eaten blood-apples or if they have a way to reproduce on their own.

Mouths:

mouth.jpg

The inside of a mouth.

Rarely, in Level 65, wanderers will come across large, flesh-covered crevices in the ground, which are colloquially referred to as "mouths". These mouths are about 6-9 feet (2-3 meters) in diameter and extend deep into the ground. Their insides are covered in red, fleshy tissue with occasional clumps of non-functional, human-like teeth. Wanderers who fall into the mouths will be quickly pulled down and out of sight by the pulsating flesh walls.

It is unknown what happens to wanderers who fall into the mouths, but screams can often be heard emanating from the site for hours or even days after a wanderer falls in. Sometimes screams can even be heard spontaneously when no one has fallen in. These spontaneous screams are usually of a deeper, guttural nature.

Centipedes:

centipede.jpg

One of the level's centipedes. This photo was taken after the centipede was slain by a wanderer.

As mentioned, the centipedes in the level can grow to lengths of over 6 feet (2 meters) long. These centipedes all have shiny black exoskeletons and are extremely aggressive, violently tearing apart any wanderers who come near them. They are extremely fast and react to movement, so it is not recommended that wanderers run away when coming into contact with one, as this would lead to certain death. Instead, move slowly towards it and attempt to stab through its outer shell with a sharp object or hit it over the head with something heavy.

When killing and cutting open a centipede, it has been found that each of them contains inside of them a complete human skeleton. These bones are, for the most part, unused, but the skull is situated right inside of the head, suggesting that the brain of the former human is kept partially intact. The dark-red blood that fills these creatures bears a notable resemblance to the juice of the blood-apples, though no tests have been made so far to confirm whether or not it would produce a similar effect when eaten.

The Stump:

what's-left-of-the-gallows-tree.jpeg

The stump. Note the visual irregularities present in the photograph.

Deep in the level, wanderers can come across a structure known as "the stump". The stump appears to be a cleanly cut black stump from a very large tree, though careful examination is very difficult due to its irregular effects. As wanderers get closer to the stump, they will begin experiencing sensory irregularities, an effect that extends to photographs of the area, suggesting it may not be hallucinatory in nature. These irregularities include visions such as the sky taking on a bright red hue, all other objects being reduced to pitch-black silhouettes, and curves and angles changing to appear as sharp points. At this point, wanderers will have reported finding it increasingly difficult to think straight and begin perceiving time as moving more slowly than it actually is, as well as perceiving themselves to be separate from their body. Wanderers who touch the stump itself will experience severe burns all over the area of skin that touches it. Skin burned this way does not heal.

The stump is believed to be sentient due to the fact that wanderers who come close to it have reported hearing a deep, androgynous which sounds like it's echoing inside of their heads. Despite this quality of the voice, it can also be heard on recordings. The voice will often address the wanderers directly but is mostly incoherent.

Entrances and Exits:

Level 65 can be entered through wooden gates found in a number of forest-based levels. These entrances stay constant and can also be used as exits, though not all levels that can be entered from Level 65 will have a corresponding exit on the other side. The following levels are known to be connected to Level 65:

Supplementary Documents:

Exploration Log Level 65-1

Forward: The following is an excerpt from an independently organized exploration by M.E.G. Team Elise (consisting of Elise Beck, Billy White, and Blake Ross). This particular log records the exploring of the inside of the "mouth" structures in Level 65.


<Begin Log>

Elise Beck: Alright, is the recording running?

Billy White: Yep. It should be recording loud and clear.

Elise Beck: Good. On belay?

Billy White: Belay on— the rope looks like it's going to hold, but are you sure you want to go down that thing? I mean, it gives me the jimmies.

Blake Ross: Yeah, seriously Elise. We don't even know what's at the bottom of that… thing, and it feels like everything in this forest is out to get us.

Elise Beck: I'll be fine. If anything sketchy happens, you can pull me out.

Billy White: Right.

Elise Beck: Alright. Beginning ascent into the mouth structure.

Elise Beck: Entering the hole in the bottom of the… throat.

Elise Beck: Turning on the flashlight.

Elise Beck: Fuck. Stop lowering me!

Blake Ross: Everything good?

Elise Beck: Let me just… describe this.

Elise Beck: There's a huge pit underneath the mouth-hole, and… it's full of centipedes, just crawling over each other— hundreds of them.

Elise Beck: And there's eyes in the wall, just… watching me.

Elise Beck: Pull me up. Pull me up, now!

<End Log>

Exploration Log Level 65-2

Forward: The following is an excerpt from an independently organized exploration by M.E.G. Team Elise (consisting of Elise Beck, Billy White, and Blake Ross). This particular log records the exploring of the area nearer to the stump structure in Level 65.


<Begin Log>

Elise Beck: Testing one-two. We good?

Billy White: Yep. All set.

Elise Beck: Alright cool. I started this recording because we're starting to experience the visual… irregularities was the word they used in the database entry, I think. Which means we're getting closer to the stump.

Blake Ross: Yep.

Elise Beck: One thing that I felt was kind of lacking in the entry was that they talked about the stump talking to people, but they didn't really expand on what it said.

Elise Beck: So um, hopefully we can expand on that a little bit.

[Around 20 minutes of little conversation.]

Unknown: …and the heaves dipped down to touch the world. Stopping it as it bent and twisted, writhing in one giant mass of reality…

Billy White: I can hear it.

Elise Beck: Shh!

Unknown: …and then to the holy spot arrived three visitors. Greetings visitors. Be not afraid to speak in my presence.

Elise Beck: H-hello. Who… are you?

Unknown: I am all that's left. Once the creator and destroyer of life, now left derelict. Cut from my former glory, now with a domain barely alive.

Elise Beck: What?

Unknown: I saw your arrival, and you saw me as I watched you, intently, waiting for you to reach me, though perhaps you did not know.

Elise Beck: What does any of that mean?

Unknown: There once was a tree, great and tall. The gallows-tree of the Gods. It was responsible for life. And for death. Then the Gods made their greatest mistake. They created beings that could rebel. They created man. And man was sick of death, so it ripped off a branch and fashioned into a sharp ax. Man cut down the tree, but its roots remained. The gallows did not need the branches to kill, and so it continued, corrupting all around it. Man wept.

Elise Beck: So you're the tree in the story?

Unknown: No. I'm the woodcutter.

<Connection Lost>


Afterword: All members of Team Elise woke up near M.E.G. Base Rosewood, covered in blood that was not their own as well as some small, but severe, burns that have not shown any sign of healing. They reportedly have no memory of what happened after they arrived at the stump.


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