Attributes Out

Writing Prompt:
“An Inside Out-esque scenario, but instead of the emotions being personified it’s the stats of an RPG (e.g. S.P.E.C.I.A.L. from Fallout).”

Hidden away in the dark lurked a foreboding room. There was no entrance, no exit. The walls were carved from living stone, intricately detailed and unfathomably old. A ring of carefully sculpted pillars supported the cobwebbed ceiling, depicting fierce battles and legendary treasures. In the center of the room stood a shaft of rowan wood, twisted and ornate but seemingly naturally occurring. Rather than branch out and bloom, however, it ended entwined about a softly pulsating crystal the size of a man’s fist, the source of the soft pink light that illuminated the room. A thick blanket of mist shrouded the floor, appearing to glow with the light of the crystal. It slowly wafted back and forth, swirling slowly about the pillars, as well as the robes of the six dark figures that stood silently arranged around the central shaft.

The largest of the six stepped forward to the spire, swept back the hood of its deep grey cloak, and placed one massive hand palm-down on the crystal. It flashed a deep red and grew suddenly brighter, throwing light around the room and on the face of the man standing before it. His rough, battle-scarred visage twisted into a sinister smile and he turned to his companions to speak, his hand never leaving its place.

“My comrades,” he boomed, “the obstacle before us obviously requires a full-strength offensive! I will gladly take over from here. Allow me to clear the path toward conquest and glory!”

The brute gripped the crystal tightly and focused. As he did, the chamber seemed to rock and shudder, as though the very ground beneath them protested. A second figure rushed forward and pushed the behemoth of a man out of the way, taking the crystal with it’s own more slender hand. It flashed a pale yellow that fell harshly on the angular face revealed by the now absent cowl of the second figure. The tall, slender and angry woman glared daggers at the first man, practically spitting her words at him.

“You fool! You can’t just rush headlong into this, we’ll all be killed! At least let a more dexterous professional such as myself keep us from being shot down before we begin. We have to flank the target, or we don’t have a chance.”

As the severe woman concentrated on what she was doing, the room seemed to tilt from one side to another, threatening to throw the remaining figures off their balance. In the midst of the developing chaos a shorter and much stouter man flipped back his hood and trundled up to the shaft, seemingly oblivious to the rolling floor. He plopped one hairy-knuckled mitt on the crystal and the room took on a sudden emerald hue. He completely ignored the woman who had been there before him and who was now pummeling his thick head with a flurry of impressive, but ultimately ineffective, blows.

“You know,” he said, “we should really leverage our superior constitution. Just prove we can take whatever is thrown at us.” He grinned. “Wear ’em down, that’s what I always say.”

He stood stock still at the rowan staff, not seeming to make any effort in particular. Meanwhile, the room began to develop a faint haziness, gradually obscuring vision and turning the brilliant green of the crystal into a sickly chartreuse. The remaining figures removed their hoods, as though they were having trouble breathing easily. One of them, a young man of very slight build, rushed forward and pinched the simple man’s nose until he was forced to comply and step back from the staff. The newcomer swiftly stepped in and placed his palm upon the crystal almost disdainfully. The light turned a rich and dark purple, and the young man rolled his eyes at his compatriots.

“Have you no intelligence whatsoever? Are you attempting to eradicate the lot of us?” He turned back to the crystal and closed his eyes. “I surmise it’s left to me once again to rectify the situation. Kindly remain stationary while I present our adversary with an indefatigable and irrefutable debate. We will certainly emerge victorious momentarily.”

An elderly woman stepped forward and placed a gentle hand on the young man’s shoulder. “Son, I think it might be wise to hand the reigns over to me. It’s said that discretion is the better part of valor, and that seems quite prudent at the moment.”

The young man hesitated, but eventually bowed to the wishes of his more experienced senior. The crone set her gnarled and bony fingers on the crystal, changing it to a calming indigo color. The haze left the room, the floor settled, and all the figures took a deep breath of relief. All but the last one.

The remarkably handsome gentleman swaggered forward and draped one arm around the wise old woman. “Granny, you do a great job around here. You know that, right?” He aimed a white smile and a wink at her. “But I said it before and I have to say it again. This is a job that requires finesse, appeal, a certain je ne sais quoi. This is a job for… Charisma.”

He wrested the crystal from the woman’s hand, and the chamber was once again bathed in a soft pink light.

Ashley watched in growing confusion. She had been enjoying a drink with a couple of her friends, grooving to the music, when a handsome young man had caught her eye. She had thought to flirt a bit, since he was pretty cute, after all, but that was certainly off the table when he abruptly turned to the stranger next to him and knocked the guy out cold with a wild haymaker. He proceeded to take out three more random clubgoers with vicious blows before the crowd withdrew from him in terror. With a ring of onlookers watching in bewilderment and fear, the young man squared off against a single brave fellow who had taken it upon himself to bring down this strange assailant. The young man had ceased his own attack entirely, dodging and skipping around in a manner completely different from his previous straightforwardness. It was bizarre to watch, but the club’s heroic defender never landed a blow on the mysterious stranger.

Abruptly the elusive young man ceased his skipping and calmly strode over to the bar, where he began downing the shots that remained there. The defender saw his opportunity, and launched himself at the stranger. As his attacks had no effect, however, he slowly came to a frightening conclusion and retreated.

The violent young man finished his twelfth shot, wiped his mouth, and staggered over to the table where Ashley and her friends sat, trapping them in the booth. He proceeded to present a detailed and convincing series of reasons why Ashley’s companions should, in essence, beat it. They needed little convincing, and as soon as they were fairly certain it was safe to move, they both made a dash for the club exit. So much for friendship.

Ashley was frozen with sheer disorientation, and watched helplessly as the unstable young man turned toward her and took a deep breath to say something. However, he instead abruptly turned around and headed toward the club exit himself without a word. She was just beginning to get a grip on herself when he paused at the door, turned back, and jogged over to her table once more. He sat down next to her and smiled, oblivious to the panic behind him and the sound of approaching sirens.

“Do you like my new jacket?” he murmured.

Falteringly, she stammered, “Y-y-yes?”

“Do you know what it’s made of?” he crooned.

Unsure, she ventured, “…No?”

The young man pulled a pair of sunglasses from his pocket, put them on, and grinned again, coyly.

“Boyfriend material.”

And that is when the police burst in.


Original Prompt: Reddit – Inside-Out

Attributes Out