Jam’s Soul Chunks

Jam’s Soul Chunks

This is for all of my peerless and creative Kickstarter backers. Thank you.

Only read this if you’ve played and completed ExSpelled.

Spoilers abound.

This was going to be a choose-your-own-path game, but I got carried away with writing, and ended up with more writing than meaningful choices. So I’ll present this as a “Choose Your Path Unplugged”, where you can simply read through the story and experience all of the consequences without playing through a game multiple times. enjoy.

It’s the end of the semester, and you’re just finishing up your end-of-the-term tests and exams, confusingly abbreviated  T.E.S.T. (Test Every Student Takes) and E.X.A.M. (Every eXtra Addled Multiple-choice).  Everyone agrees that they tried wayyy too hard to come up with interesting acrostics for the tests, but since no one wanted to take initiative and change them, they stayed that way.

The evil spirit of Jam is pervading the school, because he hasn’t quite died yet.  True, you toppled him out of the time bubble, but you didn’t know at the time that he had split his soul into chunks many years before, hiding each chunk in difficult-to-access place around the world. Unlike other evil wizards who have performed this ritual, none of the chunks of his soul were immediately accessible, as none of them were dropped in earlier in the story as plot points or maguffins. Jam, perhaps being extra cautious to diversify the placement of his soul, didn’t leave a chunk of his soul in his physical body, explaining every action that he had taken since he’d gotten rid of his soul. Of course, he was pretty evil before, too.

Oh, before we start the story proper: you might detect a plot hole, in that you and your friends were unmercifully expelled from W.C. at the end of ExSpelled, conveniently providing the author with an impetus for the title, besides the horrible pun. But (in another convent plot twist) the staff at W.C. completely failed to fill the paperwork on your expulsion, so you just continued attending, with no one being the wiser.

Anyway, you’re finishing up your final T.E.S.T.S., and you’re scheming to have an interesting summer – you want to seek out Jam’s Soul Chunks, and place them (through an achingly complex magical process) in the body of a newt – for funsies. It’s just the kind of ridiculous quest with a hint of rebellion that college students love, so your friends jump at your idea with excitement.

*Chunk 1*

You are soaring over deathly cold waters filled with ice, secure in the knowledge that your flight spell only fails 5% of the time. Of course, you shouldn’t have felt so secure, because 5% if a pretty big percentage when you’re talking about plunging to your death in hypothermia-inducing waters.

The spell that you cast on yourself and your friends gives out just before you are above solid land, and the water is really, really cold.

What do you do?

1. Cast a warming spell to attempt to save you and your friends from freezing to death.

No sooner do you yell out “tempeturius regulatius” than the water around you becomes unbearably hot, and you almost instantly get heat stroke – an antarctic first, to be sure. The snow on shore sizzles as your inflamed skin touches it. It feels really good, and terrible at the same time.

2. Cast a “fins and flippers” spell to aid in your attempts to swim to shore.

You cast the spell a little too well, and you and your friends instantly transform into fish and seals. You lose valuable time as the carnivorous half of your party chase the tasty half around for a while, but no one is permanently damaged once the spell wears off.

You’re standing on the shore of the iceberg, looking for anything that looks like a piece of a soul, when you realize that you have no idea what a soul looks like, so you can’t possibly spot anything that looks like a piece of one.

Also, it’s getting dark, so pretty soon you will both 1. Not know what to look for, and 2. Not be able to see it anyway.

So, what do you do?

1. Light a fire for the night

Having nothing to burn (not having thought to bring firewood, or any other supplies) you first attempt to cast “Ashicus Furricus”, the log-summoning spell.  You accidentally cast a variant to the spell, that makes it rain logs all night. You don’t have time to light a fire while you’re constantly dodging flying logs, but all of the aerobic exercise keeps you nice and warm.

2. Spend your time checking out that suspicious clump of snow over there

Turns out, it was just a clump of snow. In retrospect, a clump of snow isn’t that unusual in the Antarctic. It’s now dark and quite cold, so your fingers are really stiff as you attempt to cast a spell that will light a fire. When you try, you accidentally cast a spell that makes a loud shrieking noise for six hours straight. It’s not a pleasant night.

The next morning you’re tired and stiff, and really regretting this stupid quest. You search the iceberg for a couple hours before one of the brainier of you suggests that you cast a “find magic” spell. A few minutes are wasted while you berate your brainy friend for not coming up with this solution earlier.

You’re ready to cast the spell. When you do, a purple wisp of magic emerges and comes to rest right above that lump of snow from yesterday. You dig down deep below it, and there it is: a glowing, magical looking amulet, for some reason. You pocket the trinket, and dig further until you find what looks to be a tiny, black, frostbitten lump of coal. A quick detect spell identifies it as a piece of Jam’s soul.

Congrats. You’ve got the first chunk. Are you going to continue on this fool’s errand?

1. Yes.

Well, clearly you aren’t afraid of being a fool. Of course, no one ever accused you of otherwise! Onward!

2. No.

You thought you could quit this game that easily, eh? Fat chance. Or maybe you’re one of those people who has to do the “ironic” thing, and you think it’s terribly ironic to start playing a game and end it prematurely because the game allowed it. Heh heh. Ok, well I’m not actually going to allow that sort of behavior. I’m in charge here, so here’s what I say happened: your friends goad you into continuing on your quest. There. You think you have control, you think that you can make choices and have mastery over this story, but I, the master puppeteer, have true sovereignty over your fate, and I…of course, now that I think of it, you can always quit by turning off your computer. Darn. Oh well, your friends still goad you into continuing.

*Chunk 2*
Amazon Rainforest

The next place where you’ve heard it said that Jam’s soul might be lying in wait is the Amazon Rainforest, so you fly swiftly to the place where that is. The amazon, or whatever.

By the way, it is shocking – I say, shocking, how little people know about the Amazon Rainforest. In fact, the average yokel off the street couldn’t probably provide you with two factual truths about the Amazon Rainforest. They think that they’re full of tigers and lions and stuff, and they’re just not. No panthers or giraffes, either. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Why am I talking about this? Well, it’s incredibly useful to be as a writer when I can reasonably assume that the reader is going to be ignorant about a certain factual subject. Generally easy writers get around this by writing fiction, but if you’re writing about a real place, it’s best to write about a place that almost no-one knows any truthful information about: you can write all the untruths you want, and everyone will believe you, no sweat.

However, as you can imagine, I’m an expert on the Amazon Rainforest, so no worries there.

As you and your friends walk through the Amazon Rainforest, you see a wide variety of flora and fauna (no surprise, as the Amazon Rainforest is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, with one study finding over 1,100 tree species in 1/4 square kilometer. I bet you didn’t know there were more than 10 tree species, did you? Oops, I’d better get back to that sentence), such as Hoatzin, Bald Uakari, and Bullet Ants, and over 1,000 tree species. In fact, there’s a old, grumpy looking Bald Uakari monkey sitting on a stone over there!

What to do?

1. Cast the magic finding spell immediately.

You cast the spell, and the Bald Uakari remains undisturbed.Good for you. Unfortunately, the magic finding spell settles above the surly Bald Uakari’s head, indicating that the magic is somewhere in the monkey’s vicinity. You try to sneak towards the balding monkey, and he treats you with kindness and compassion, as you did a few minutes earlier when you didn’t mock him about his head.

Just kidding.

The monkey leaps off the stone and thrashes you methodically, and then vacates the premises. Maybe the monkey had toyed with becoming a Monkey Magician, so the magic you detected was just the remnants of that. Sadly, because of the pact of handwavium, you won’t be able to cast the magic finding spell again.

2. Mock a Bald Uakari about its bald head.

The monkey thrashes you methodically, and then vacates the premises. He’s also damaged your wands, to the point that they won’t be able to cast the magic finding spell again. Oh dear.

You have a mild case of Bullet ants, but you can’t think about that now. You have to find the should chunk, without magic, in a massive, dense rainforest with over 1,100 species of tree in each 1/4 square kilometer. Good luck!

1. Start a methodical search

You lay out an imaginary grid, and start searching each section of the Amazon Rainforest throughly. In time, with persistence, you…don’t find the soul chunk. But you’re still willing and able-bodied, even at the ripe old age of 60, so you keep looking. At 70 the search starts to wear thin, and your bodies are wearing out. You sit down briefly on the same stone on which that Bald Uakari sat so many decades ago, and the stone shifts and out tumbles another chunk of Jam’s Soul. Success!

2. Randomly walk around

You agree to meet back at the rock that the monkey was sitting on, and you all strike out in different directions. When you return there are three of you missing, and none of you have found the chunk. You sit down on the rock in despair, and it shifts under your weight and a chunk of Jam’s Soul tumbles out from under it. Hooray! If they’re still alive, I’m sure your friends will find their way home. They’re not alive, though.

*Chunk 3*
Local Big Box Retailer

You and your friends head toward the next Soul Chunk, which seems to be in a Big Box Retail Outlet. You know, the kind where they pay folks two dollars a year to restock deodorant.

This is really good timing, because you’re all in desperate need of deodorant.

What to do?

1. Search the deodorant aisle
You pick up different flavors of deodorant, searching frantically.
Wait…flavors? Odors? Smellscapes?  I’m not really sure what to call them. Flavors is definitely not right, but “kinds” is a little vague. Textures? Aromas?  Scents? You can’t say “You pick up different scents of deodorant, searching frantically”, now can you?
Ok, this is just bothering me too much. Time to change the story and justify it in the fiction.
You go to the deodorant aisle, but quickly realize deodorant is too complex and maddening to deal with, so instead you search the toothpaste aisle.

At first you don’t see anything…and then there it is! Lodged in an Xtra large family size DentaSanaBrite (bacon and mint flavored, with a avocado stripe and glitter), there is the soul chunk! You’re thrilled that it was so easy, and shocked that Jam ever, in his life, visited a toothpaste aisle.

2. Search the toothpaste aisle
At first you don’t see anything…and then there it is! Lodged in an Xtra large family size DentaSanaBrite (bacon and mint flavored, with a avocado stripe and glitter), there is the soul chunk! You’re thrilled that it was so easy, and shocked that Jam ever, in his life, visited a toothpaste aisle.

5. Jam wouldn’t go to either of those places. Search everywhere else.
You spend days searching every inch of the store. Nothing. NOTHING. Sigh. Finally you get around to the deodorant aisle: the second-to-last place Jam would go in a store. No luck. Finally you try the last place Jam would go in a store: the toothpaste aisle.

At first you don’t see anything…and then there it is! Lodged in an Xtra large family size DentaSanaBrite (bacon and mint flavored, with a avocado stripe and glitter), there is the soul chunk! You’re thrilled that it was so easy, and shocked that Jam ever, in his life, visited a toothpaste aisle.

6. You missed 4.

If you noticed that, you win the game! YAYYYYYYYYYYŸ

You’ve finally collected all of the chunks! You until them into their original form: the hideous, black, shriveled form of Jam’s soul – or at least what’s left of it.
You know what you have to do: An epic quest to take Jam’s soul to the one place where it may be undone: The fiery hot sands of the Mana Desert, where the prune-like soul will be reunited with Jam as you vaporize him. Or put it in a newt, whichever you decided in the first place. You’ve forgotten.

At this point you all realize exactly how creepy it is to be holding a severed soul in your hands, and you have a mind case of shock. The soul falls from your nerveless fingers…down a sewage drain.

Oh well, I’m sure it will be safe there.