The Coin Purse
As you reach the coin purse, the traffic lights begin to blink. The tram wires overhead spark and crackle. Lightning bolts and thunder tear up the sky and supercharge the air with electricity, making the hairs on your arms stick up.
“Quick. Skip around the purse three times,” instructs Bano. You feel like a terrible fool, but you skip around the purse anyway – all in the name of saving your city.
The sages begin uttering their chant. “May this city never be devoid of the wealth of compassion, courage, and calm. May this real wealth make its home in this city.”
You hear crackling sounds from the purse and soon there appears the form of a middle-aged woman holding a bright lamp with both her hands. The light of the lamp lifts your mood.
She says, “Thank you for restoring the wealth that this great city truly deserves.”
As she walks away, the fog slowly dissipates, the traffic lights return to working order and the thunder and lightning clear.
Belinda and Bano whirl around in delight.
“You’re celebrating too soon,” warns Basanti, and within seconds, the buildings around you start creaking and cracking. You are confused – you have freed all five spirits, yet there is no sign of the mayhem abating.
“Why is everything still falling apart?” you ask Basanti, just as there is a loud rumble and bricks tumble from the Myer building, throwing plumes of dust into the air.
“The Lord of Chaos is coming,” says Basanti, matter-of-factly. “Are you ready to die?” She starts laughing. You hope she is joking.
“But where is the Lord of Chaos?” you ask.
The columns of the Melbourne GPO come to life, lifting their ‘feet’ and crushing the steps in front of the building. Then the entire building lurches towards you.
You turn to ask Basanti what is going on, but she has vanished, as have Belinda and Bano. You are all alone, at the centre of a city falling apart.
“Belinda! Basanti! Bano!” you scream, looking down the mall.
That’s when you see it: the huge, formless mass of the ugliest of greys, a shape-changing giant, a moving, stinking blob the size of a large dinosaur. The Lord of Chaos! It has four huge tentacles – the three sages are clutched within three of them, and are flailing about, their faces a picture of horror. Now you see that he holds a golden sceptre in its other tentacle. You try to remember the message that your future-self had left for you. Something about a sceptre. What was it, again?
There is no way you want to get near those tentacles. You see the columns moving out of the corner of your eye, and an idea occurs to you. You run through the columns of the Melbourne GPO building, weaving your way in and out of them. The Lord of Chaos tries to wrap its hideous tentacles around you, but the tentacles become tangled up in the moving columns. Then there is a bloodcurdling bellow – a column has stepped on one of the Lord’s tentacles. The Lord of Chaos falls hard against the pavement, making a universe-shattering thud. The ground trembles like there’s an earthquake. The sceptre falls to the ground with a clang and rolls away, stopping a few feet away from Chaos – but the sages are still in its grips.
“Summon the five spirits – they can help,” Belinda yells at you. “Direct contact with Chaos negates our powers.”
The Lord of Chaos is howling in pain, rolling around on its back and waving its tentacles – and the sages – every which way. That’s when you realise it can’t get up! You run towards the grey, stinking mass, dodging its tentacles and snatch the golden sceptre. As soon as it is in your hands, you remember what your future self told you.
You run backwards, out of Chaos’s reach, and close your eyes. “I summon the highest noble spirits of this city to help me defeat the Lord of Chaos, once and for all, for all eternity.” You start waving the sceptre around above you, tracing the infinity symbol through the air.
One by one the spirits come and stand beside you. There is the Spirit of Harmony draped in her green cloth, the Spirit of Tolerance with her wildflowers and roses, the Spirit of Love, wise and reassuring in her presence, the Spirit of Adventure sitting high and mighty on her horse, and the Spirit of Wealth with her bright lamp.
You are terrified, but you know what you have to do. “Noble spirits,” you say, briefly looking at each one. “Lift me up and drop me into the centre of Chaos.”
You feel the power of the five spirits charging through you as you are raised into the air by an invisible force, higher and higher until you can see the moss and debris on top of the nearby buildings. The spirits position you directly over the Lord of Chaos so that you are looking down at the belly of the beast, where there is a swirling dark-grey vortex at its centre. That’s where its heart is – that’s what your future self told you.
You wait until you directly above the vortex and then yell, “NOW!”
The spirits let you go and you plummet onto the Lord of Chaos, plunging the sceptre directly into the vortex.
There is an almighty bang – like the sound of a balloon popping – as the body of the Lord of Chaos explodes. Tiny globules of a grey, gelatinous substance shoot skywards. You instinctively cover your head with your hands, expecting the grey gloop to rain down, but instead you feel something papery tickling the back of your hands.
You look up to see bright confetti, in every colour imaginable, falling all across Melbourne like snow.
The three sages are smiling again, but this time they are kneeling before you, head bowed.
“Stop being silly,” you say, and help each of them up, first Belinda, then Bano, then Basanti.
“Show’s over. PLEASE can we return to our immortal selves?” says Basanti as she stands up.
Belinda rolls her eyes, but nonetheless stretches her arms out, palms folded into fists. Basanti and Belinda do the same. “We call upon our immortal selves, our male-forms to return to us. We call upon Amar, Akbar and Anthony to inhabit us.” Again, they dissolve as if they are mere holograms and materialise a moment later in the form of the sages you first met what seems like an eternity ago.
“We need to make sure this battle always unfolds as it should,” says Akbar, and he twirls his right hand clockwise, creating a small, shimmering circle in the air.
“That’s a wormhole in the fabric of space-time,” says Bano. “Now, make a video telling yourself exactly how to defeat the Lord of Chaos, and we’ll send it back in time.”
Adrenalin is still pumping through your system, but you take a few deep, calming breaths. You need to make sure you don’t sound delusional. You make the video, hoping that the message makes sense to your past self!
Make a video guiding your past self to the three sages and instructing yourself on how to defeat the Lord of Chaos by capturing his sceptre. Upload the video on Facebook or Youtube and post the link on social media with the hashtag #StoryCity and #JLFMelb so that you can search and see the video messages posted by other players.