AI Dungeon Presents: The Masque of the Red Death

It's duller than any blade you've ever seen, and its edge is razor sharp.

I missed last week’s newsletter because I was busy preparing for a possible coronavirus self-quarantine, which turned out to be productive, because I am in fact now self-quarantined for coronavirus exposure. I’ve got something fun lined up for AI Dungeon next week, but for now it’s difficult to focus on anything but the pandemic, and my only solution is to find a Plague Angle for everything. So enjoy the AI absolutely butchering Edgar Allan Poe.

“The Masque of the Red Death”

[PROMPT: The "Red Death" has long devastated the country. No pestilence has ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood is its Avatar and its seal—the redness and the horror of blood. There are sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, are the pest ban which shuts him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, is the incidents of half an hour. 

But you are Prince Prospero, and you're going to throw an awesome party.] You've got a hundred men, and you'll have more tomorrow night. You're going to dress up in your finest clothes, and dance around the room like a fool until the Red Death comes down on you.

You look at yourself in the mirror. Your hair is all frizzled and wild; it's as if someone had taken a bunch of grapes and tied them up with string. It looks like you should be wearing a wig, but you can't find one that fits right.

You don't even know where to get one. You think about the old joke: "What do you call a man who wears too much fur?" A fox says, "A man who wears too much fur."

[> Resolve to hire a good anti-comedy standup act at your next plague party]

You go into the wardrobe and pick out a wig. When you come back out, you see that the rest of your hair is still curly. You try it on again, and it fits perfectly.

You put on some black stockings and shoes, and walk over to the door. You open it, and step outside. You feel very silly, because you're dressed like a clown! Then you notice that there are two other people inside the house.

They look just like you! They must be servants. You run over to them, and they stare at you with astonishment. "Who are you?" they ask. "I'm Prince Prospero," you say, "and I want to invite all my friends here for a plague party!"

Then you remember that you haven't brought any money with you. You could easily buy something to eat, but what would be the use? You'd rather spend your money on a plague than on anything else.

[> Invite all your friends to your castle]

You invite all your friends to your castle. You tell them how great it will be when the plague comes, and how wonderful it will be to dance round the room like fools while the Red Death takes you away to die.

[> Weld the gates shut so nobody can enter or leave]

You close the doors tightly behind you. Nobody can get in or out without your permission. You are Prince Prospero, and you have decided to keep everybody safe this year by keeping everyone inside your castle.

The Red Death has been plaguing the land lately, and it's only natural that you should lock everybody inside your castle. But then, why shouldn't you stay inside your own castle? Why shouldn't you enjoy yourself this year? What harm can come from doing so?

[> Host a masked ball in your special color-coded apartments]

You decide to hold a masquerade ball in your apartment building's colored apartments. The Red Death might not be able to reach the entire city, but he'll certainly find a way around these apartments. And if you let him, he won't stop until every one of his victims dies.

It's time to play the game.

It's time to take control of your life.

[> Show up at the masquerade ball]

You arrive at the masquerade ball wearing a red velvet mask. It is the most beautiful thing you've ever seen. You feel as though you're going to fall into a deep sleep, but somehow manage to stand there and smile at everyone who stares at you.

Everyone except for your mother, who seems to think you're some sort of freak.

"Prince Prospero! I thought you were supposed to be studying!" she says angrily. "I don't understand why you didn't bring me along."

You shrug. "Well, I was busy with other things." You say, walking over to her. She grabs your hand and looks at you expectantly. 

"What do you mean?" she asks again.

[> "Mom, please, stop embarrassing me at my plague party."]

She doesn't respond, but she does look away. Her face turns red and she begins to cry. You walk back to your room and sit down on your bed.

You continue sitting there, looking at the ceiling, while you wait for something to happen...

[> A masked figure in the habiliments of the grave appears, his vesture dabbled in blood—and his broad brow, with all the features of the face, besprinkled with the scarlet horror.]

A masked figure suddenly materializes in front of you. He wears nothing but a black cloak, which covers his body entirely save for the tip of his head, where a long crimson scarf drapes over his neck.

His hands are covered by gauntlets that extend from his wrists, and he has no nose or ears. He stands about five feet tall, and his weight is estimated to be between two hundred and three hundred pounds.

His eyes are set deep within his skull, and they seem to pierce right through you.

He raises one finger toward you. "And now," he says, "we meet."

The masked man walks forward slowly, like a ghost. His steps are slow and deliberate, as if he were carefully considering every step before taking it. Then, without warning, he darts forward with incredible speed.

In an instant, he's upon you.

Your arms go limp at your sides, and you collapse onto the floor. The masked man lets out a laugh. "Ah, so this is what happens when I'm not paying attention to you," he says. "I see you've been waiting patiently for me to arrive."

He walks around behind you, and then he pulls out a dagger. It's duller than any blade you've ever seen, and its edge is razor sharp. He points it straight at your throat. "Now," he says, "you'll wish you hadn't come here."

You don't move. Your mouth hangs open, and your eyes are wide with terror. You're paralyzed with fear.

"Do it."

The masked man draws closer. He leans against the wall beside you, and he stares into your eyes. Slowly, he lowers the knife. "Will you do what I ask?"

You shake your head slowly, and then you nod. The masked man smiles wickedly.

"Good," he says. "Then we shall begin."

He takes a deep breath, and then he begins to speak. "My name is Ghoul. I am the servant of the Great Lich Lord Zalan Mihrab, who rules this land with an iron fist."

[>"Really? I had this whole Edgar Allan Poe theme going, and this is where you're taking things?”]

Ghoul nods. "Yes, yes, I know who you are. You're the man who defeated my master in battle years ago."

"What?! No! That can't be true!"

"It is true," Ghoul says.

[> Everyone suddenly dies of the Red Death in an ambiguous metaphor for the inevitability of the grave]

The red mist rises up from the ground, engulfing you in a blinding flash of light. You feel yourself being sucked down into the earth, and then you're dead.


If you’ve got good AI Dungeon stories, I for one welcome fiction from our new AI overlords, and also quarantine recipes. Send it to