Level 495
rating: +36+x

SURVIVAL DIFFICULTY:

Class 1

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ferryman.jpg

The ferryman.

Description:

Level 495 is a riverbank covered in grey sand. There is no wind or weather, so the grains are still, only moved by the occasional wanderer who walks across them. Any indents made by footprints are quickly filled in, leaving no evidence that anyone had disturbed the shore. On one side is a river, its water cool and deep. Its width stretches further than the eye can see. No one who has attempted to cross it on their own has made it to the other side. The sky is dark but cloudless, a darkness that becomes more and more prominent as you go farther away from the river's shore until you can't see at all. No lights work there; the darkness envelops everything.

On the side of the river is a ferryman. They move their small boat, not with paddles, but with a long stick which they push into the river's floor. On one end of their stick is a lantern; its dim yellow glow cuts through the darkness, the only semblance of color that can be found within the level. Not much is known about the ferryman, as they don't seem much for conversation. They usually appear as an old man with a tattered black coat and long unkempt beard, black, save for a few stains scattered throughout. Though, they have also appeared as a young boy with a white t-shirt and cargo shorts or a teenage girl with a floral summer dress. Their eyes are always grey and almost seem like they don't see anything, always seeming to look past what's in front of them; into the distance, the darkness. Occasionally, they will let someone cross. For this, they require a payment. Any coin will do. It does not matter how much it's worth or even what type of coin it is. The ferryman has been seen to accept pennies and even plastic tokens. The ferry seems to be the only way to truly cross the river, but the ferryman's boat always returns empty, and they've never told anyone what's on the other side.

Oftentimes figures will walk out from the darkness. They look almost human except for their dulled colors and faintly visible translucency. These figures don't seem to notice any wanderers, and if you try to physically interact with them, they will pass through you. When they reach the riverbank, they usually pull out a coin, sometimes from a pocket, a purse, or even from under their tongue. At this point, the ferryman takes them across. Not all produce a coin, however, and those who don't simply walk along the river's edge until they can no longer be seen.

Entrances and Exits:

Entrances:

Known entrances to Level 495 include a passageway in Level 75, a crevice in Level 135, and the bottom of the lake in Level 494. All of these entrances emerge in the dark part of the level, but it's easy to make your way to the river by just following the light.

Exits:

Occasionally, in the dark part of the level, opposite to the river, you may come across a doorway. These doorways vary in make and design and always seem empty until you walk through them. Known doorways lead to Level 372, Level 97, Level 28, and Level 899. Some believe that there is another exit on the other side of the river, but no one knows for sure.

I see them emerge from the shadows, packs on their back. They walk. They walk. They walk, but their journey is almost over. I see a mother holding a baby against her breast. A rare sight; the travelers usually walk alone. She only has a single coin, so she pauses and then gives both the baby and the coin to the ferryman. She's come so far, but there are more important things than her. The ferryman leaves, and she begins to walk again, this time along the bank, against the flow of the river. She's walked so far; what are a few more steps? What is an eternity of steps? At least her baby made it. For that, it's worth it to never see the light again. For that, it's worth it to keep walking. This time in no direction. This time just because it's all she can do. The dawn will never again break, but that's alright.

For just a moment, she brought something into this world. And he would take them both out just a few minutes later. Both his life and his death shorter than her eternity. And they walk.


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