Chapter 35: Temple Run

 

Nothing new from what Lily told us. I impatiently wave away the notification, as I lightly jog through the downwards sloping stone hallway.

 

Swift but safe is what I’m shooting for. It helps that I know what’s coming.

 

As I enter the first chamber, a sound of grinding erupts, as five circular platforms start spinning above a pit full of spikes.

 

They spin at different speeds and in different directions; the last one is even tilted. They also all have beams that stick out of the pole running through the middle of the platform, some stationary, some spinning, at various heights.

 

After a brief glance around the chamber, I activate Boost Physical, and call out: “Lavi Flows Window!”

 

 

Good. I’ve come a long way since the Second Trial; at this level I should be able to sustain Boost Physical with repeated activations till the end of the course. Now imagine if I’d eaten the meat of the Blue-Scaled Trigot this morning...

 

Too bad my higher Lavi inflows don’t stop this skill from hurting like a bitch.

 

I wave away the window, pick up some speed and leap easily onto the first platform. I never really noticed back during the Second Trial, but... aside from the pain, Boost Physical is amazing. The extra control I gain over my body from the boost in Agi, the crazy strength I have now... it makes me feel invincible, like a superhero. 

 

Which, in hindsight, might explain what I do next.

 

I study the second platform as I pass by on the first rotation. The jump seems easy enough; my legs twitch, ready to go, but I hold back, deciding to take it on the next round.

 

I duck the stationary beam sticking out of the back of the pillar holding up the first platform, and as I look back, I notice. The beam is pointing straight for the third platform, sticking out farther and higher than the platform’s edge...

 

On the next rotation, I leap smoothly onto the beam.

 

“Hey Suri...”

 

[Yes Emma?]

 

“If I don’t make it... tell my friends my last words were: ‘I bet I can make that jump’.”

 

And with a glorious burst of strength, I accelerate towards the end of the beam.

 

I make the jump with inches to spare. Still, that must’ve been a personal record.

 

On my first round on the third platform, I notice there’s another stationary beam, pointing straight at the tilted fifth platform...

 

 

The second chamber holds some standard fare, a mixture of rope and bar swings and some wall runs and jumps. I go through it practically without standing still.

 

The third chamber is a little trickier; handholds crawl up the wall onto the ceiling, and over another giant pit of spikes... with a couple of platforms. Trampoline platforms, which I need to use to reach the next set of handholds.

 

Powered by Boost Physical, I practically fly up the wall, and with my ridiculous upper body strength, make short work of the ceiling part. I take it slow on the trampolines though, dropping down carefully, and taking a few jumps to get a feeling for how this works in the weird gravity of this dimension.

 

I may be excited and reckless, but I’m not suicidal, you know?

 

As I was informed, the spiralling stairway up to the fourth chamber contains the first ‘trap’. When I’m about halfway up, it is automatically triggered, and the smooth and slightly slippery steps start to... undulate. Basically, they tilt downwards in waves. If you start sliding downwards, and pick up speed, only to hit upon raised steps again, things could get pretty ugly.

 

Lily advised us to sit down and try to slow ourselves to maintain the exact speed the wave is travelling. The trap should only trigger once and stop after a few minutes, allowing the stairs to be safely climbed.

 

But, yeah... I’m not doing that. Instead, as soon as it triggers I make a full power jump from the last upright step, take a few steps along the wall and land on the first step that’s coming up again.

 

Success! Encouraged, I continue my way up this way, clearing each wave with relative ease.

 

It takes a while to clear the entire staircase like this, but I eventually reach the top. I throw a quick glance at my status bar to check my Lavi. Not for fear of running out, but to see how much time I’ve spent.

 

 

So, a little over 9 minutes... that gives me at most 3 minutes to clear the last and arguably hardest chamber. Whoever set this previous record was really gunning it...

 

Anyway, time’s wasting.

 

I walk up to the edge of the—you’ve guessed it—giant pit of spikes. There’s only a single feature I need and get to cross it: an 80-foot long tightrope.

 

Sounds easy enough, right? It would be, if it weren’t for the numerous traps along the way.

 

From what Lily told us, the relatively safest way to cross it, would be hanging from the bottom, and simply clinging on really tightly, no matter what comes flying your way.

 

But I don’t have that luxury; I only have three minutes. So I spread my arms, and set foot on the rope.

 

Relax Emma; it’ll be just like walking the balance beam. Except the moment I step over the edge the pull of gravity decreases, sending chills down my spine.

 

The rope creaks, undulating sinuously in front of me as I traverse it.

 

I make my way steadily up until I’ve crossed about the first quarter of the pit. Here it comes...

 

I glance at my status bar: 2 minutes remaining. Gotta pick up the pace.

 

I’m not even three steps further when it happens. The scrape of stone on stone when dozens of panels slide open in the walls is my only warning. Round holes appear behind them, from which all kinds of things are launched.

 

And I mean all kinds.

 

Sticks, jets of Hydrum, small rocks, bones, empty jicca nut cones...

 

Luckily I was prepared for the onslaught. I’m moving as fast as I can, resulting in most objects flying past behind me. I duck the larger objects that I see coming from the corner of my eyes, the others I let hit me.

 

They’re not truly heavy enough to knock me off the rope, they’re just annoying and distracting.

 

But as I continue, the objects come flying at me faster, and the bigger ones become harder to dodge.

 

I barely evade collision with a skull—was that human?!

 

Filled jicca nut cones are now added to the mix. I know this because one of them just collided with a rock in front of me, causing the cone to explode in a rain of nuts, pelting harshly against my skin.

 

I’m over the halfway point by now, but it’s only getting worse...

 

I glance at the status bar. One minute left... If I fall and have to hang from the rope, I could cross safely, but I’d have to kiss my record goodbye...

 

Screw it, I’m doing it.

 

I kick my legs up behind me, and launch my torso forward, ducking a full jicca nut cone as I go. My left hands grasps the rope, then my right.

 

As I complete my first cartwheel I use my momentum to keep going into the next.

 

I considered trying to run, but I fear it’d be easy to misstep; with my hands, I can grasp the rope far more reliably, and with my feet sideways, hitting the rope is also easier. I just have to make sure I stay balanced...

 

Somehow, I pull it off; I pick up so much speed, that all projectiles miss me. At least for the first two seconds, then the room apparently adjusts and starts launching further ahead.

 

But nothing can stop me now.

 

Three more cartwheels till the end... two more... one!

 

A large, flat rock is launched low over the rope, heading straight for where I was going to put my hands next.

 

So I do the natural thing, and switch to an aerial, retracting my hands to my sides as I put extra speed and power into my launch.

 

My forehead sails over the rock with maybe an inch to spare. I land on the opposite platform.

 

Man, what a rush! It’s been a long time since I did serious gymnastics back on earth, but the feeling of control over my body just now... it’s like I’m back in top-shape.

 

The last objects hit the wall and the room turns silent. Not that I’m paying much attention; I’m sprinting through the stone hallway towards the finish.

 

At the end of the hallway, I enter a large circular room, and several notifications pop up at once.

 

 

Sweet! That’s the first time I’ve actually raised that stat... I guess it happened somewhere during my run and Suri saved it for after; good to find she really took the request I made about that during the second trial to heart.

 

 

Gee, thanks for the warning. But now for the real question: did I do it?

 

 

Aww, yeah. Jackpot.

 

 

Author's Note:

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