Found the center of the interstitial space
Tiddles and Rusticus both quickly opened their eyes wide, then vanished inside their bracelets. The remaining 3 simply shrugged, and entered a nearby room to rest. It had been a long journey through this area so far, and it was time to rest up a bit.
Ryder stooped down and picked up the bracelets on their way out of that room. Putting them into his pack, he looked at Opal and Naro, and they began discussing where to go. With only three of them, it'd be a lot harder for them to explore the rest of the area.
The three of them went west, and found a room with another massive golden gear featuring a hand crank on it. Ryder got Kir to give it a push, and the gear spun easily in place -- however as far as they could tell, nothing happened. Deciding to remember this area and come back later, they continued on.
Naro and Ryder went west, finding a hallway ended in a large locked door. While Naro unlocked the door, Ryder grabbed a nearby potion in the room to the north.
Opal meanwhile checked out other rooms to the north. Opening one of them and finding it full of noxious blue and purple gases, she decided "Nope" and tried the next door over. Following the hallway, she opened a simple wooden door, and found some bizarre mechanical device. Looking closely at it, she recognized it as the same device as the one they found previously -- however that one was malfunctioning, shooting electricity all over the place. This new device Opal stood in front of appeared to be in perfect working condition.
A large circle in the middle of a small room, about 15' from edge to edge, raised in the middle. It had 4 spiral arms coming from the middle, and a second smaller ring of blue glowing light within it. In the very center was a spot to stand, and a slot for soul coins.
Opal took one look at it and yelled "For SCIENCE!" as she jumped up onto it. She slammed a soul coin into the slot, and watched in awe as the blue light spun around her faster and faster and brighter until the energy surrounded her and infused her with power. She stood in silence for a moment, feeling like she just became slightly smarter, like a permanent boost to her intelligence. She called in the other two, and explained what just happened.
However looking down at the device she was standing on, it was obvious that the power that once resided in the machine was gone. All the lights were out, nothing was moving, and even the metal its self appeared less shiny.
Moving on, the trio decided to check the next room. They found a massive wooden door that was slightly ajar, that they got Kir to open. Before them was a new kind of hallway, with a different colour of tile flooring; they once again relied on Kir, sending him in first to test for traps. Finding the location safe, they followed after the beefy armored eidolon. At the end of the hallway, they found an incredibly ornate door, complete with gold inlay and fancy trim.
On the door was a simple image etched into the stone. Four gears, 2 big gears above 2 smaller gears. Slightly below those was two handprints.
The party looked at it, before realizing the gears had to match the same four golden gears they saw to the south, which all had hand cranks on them to rotate. However when they went to those rooms, and attempted to turn the gears, pointing the handcranks to the center of the floor, they found nothing happened.
Shrugging, the party continued on their way, exploring further options.
The party briefly split up, with Opal heading due north. Finding a locked metal door, she moved her hand to unlock it, and found a silver key magically appear in her hand, appearing rapidly out of nowhere, and disappearing from Rusticus' inventory in his bracelet. She unlocked the door, and quietly made her way forward. She passed another massive wooden door, and made note of it -- she'd need Kir's help to open that. A little ways infront was another chest; however finding it empty, she kicked the chest and quietly cursed. She heard a commotion in the direction Ryder and Naro went, and quickly went to investigate.
Opal found Naro sprinting down a corridor, chasing after a small Clockwork Familiar
, with Ryder and Kir following suit. Naro deftly sprinted his way through yet another collapsed hallway, avoiding the rocks. Opal hexed herself with fly, and while floating slightly above the ground, sped down after Naro.
Ryder took a look at the rocks blocking the hallway, and slightly shook his head "Here we go" he muttered, psyching himself up, as he sprinted through, having Kir follow suit. Making it through safely, he emerged to see Naro take 3 massive swings at the clockwork familiar, who had awoken a Clockwork Servant
, whiffing hard each time.
The clockwork servant in the room then pointed its net gun at Naro, and fired, entangling the 6 armed half-elf.
Ryder hustled up and patted Opal on the shoulder. "Have some guidance" he mentioned.
Opal replied "thanks? I can do that myself?" with a quizzical look. She glanced back at the clockwork servant, and tossed a hex at it. However the clockwork servant ignored the witch, and continued beating on Naro.
Naro, having enough of this, flexed as hard as he could, while slamming all his attacks down at once. The net tore to shreds as fists flew down and pummeled the clockwork, destroying its head and collapsing it to the floor.
"Whats the matter" asked Opal "cant you catch a little clockwork familiar before it wakes up its friend?"
Naro just looked at his extra arms and went "cmon man"
Opal went back south, while Naro and Ryder went north to explore some of the rooms ahead. Picking their way through hallways and rooms full of gears, they found a few potions each. They split up with Naro taking the west, and Ryder taking the east, both still working their way north. As they progressed, they both found wooden doors; opening them at the same time, Ryder jumped and went "AHh!" in surprise as he saw Naro opening a door into the same room at the same time.
They took a moment to catch their breath, and then looked into the room; in the middle was a collapsed section of ceiling. Under the rubble, a workmans hammer stuck out, and two soul coins. Naro picked them up, and tossed one of the coins to Ryder. They left the room, and worked their way back south to the hallway with the rockslide.
Ryder swallowed hard, and went "alright. lets do this." before stepping face first into a rock.
The party, now back in the previous rooms, explored a little bit. Opal entered a room and found it contained a desk with paper and writing utensils strewn all about it. Inside the room was also a clockwork servant on standby. She tiptoed into the room, then very carefully looked around.
Beside her? no one
In front of her? only the clockwork
Behind her? Naro and Ryder, safely out of the way
With that, Opal grinned and pointed her hands at the clockwork, letting loose a massive bolt of lightning -- it struck true, and the clockwork servant violently exploded, showering the room in debris. Taking a moment to look around the room, she found a bunch of writing utensils to give to Ryder. Also on the desk was a piece of paper, written on it was "The password is furnace"
Opal lead the way back to the huge heavy door she had found earlier, leading Ryder and Kir to it. "Hey Kir, can you do me a favour and open this ol thing?" she mentioned.
Ryder looked at Kir, and gave him the go ahead, instructing the eidolon to open it. While the door was opening, Naro remained a few rooms behind, having his own words with his own eidolon.
Down the hallway, Opal, Ryder and Kir walked; they found yet another massive door with gold inlay on it. However instead of finding a diagram, this door instead just had a door handle shaped like a humanoid face, with its eyes closed.
Opal reached up and grabbed the handle.
"Ow!" Said the door handle "Shtop that!"
Opal and Ryder immediately widened their eyes in surprise.
"Hello!" said the door
"Hello" replied the two others cautiously.
"What is the password?" asked the door
"Furnace" replied Opal confidently
"Yes, that is the password!" Said the door. It remained shut.
"Arent you going to open up for us?"
"No, the password hasnt been said yet!"
"... furnace. FURNACE. FUUUUURNACE"
"Yes indeed you are correct! that is the password!"
Ryder and Opal began to feel their blood pressure rise as the door confidently told them they were correct, and had the right password. In the distance, Naro yelled "WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO"
they responded "GET OVER HERE"
Naro jogged up before seeing that it was a talking door handle; he groaned, and stopped approaching
"Hellloooooooo" said the door handle
"hi." replied Naro, tersely.
Opal and Ryder filled Naro in on what they had tried. Meanwhile the door pleasantly watched, smiling slightly.
"What if we give you one of these silver keys?" Asked Opal
"Oh, thank you! but I'm not that hungry right now" replied the door jovially. Opal groaned.
"What about a soul coin?" Asked Naro, feeling for his only coin. "Oo yes I'll always eat those! But I wont open for that. I can give you a hint for one though!" replied the door handle.
Naro fed the door handle a soul coin. "Om nom nom mmph" it replied "Thank you! Anyways, the password needs to be said, but not necessarily by you."
This drew blank, angry stares from the party.
Ultimately the three of them decided they don't like this door, and they dont know why it wont open, so they left.
Once again splitting up, the party continued to explore for more information and resources. Naro went north again to see what else they missed, while Opal and Ryder went back to the eastern wing.
Naro found room after room with mechanical equipment and gears that were beyond comprehension. He did however find another enhancement machine like Opal used. He hopped up on it and was about to slot a coin into it, before remembering he gave his last key to the door for the hint. Grumbling, he jumped back down and resumed exploring.
Ryder and Opal used the magically appearing keys to continue opening locked doors they had passed before. They found another massive heavy wooden door, and getting Kir to open it again, found it lead down a hallway to another ornate door. This one featured another schematic on it; what appeared to be a hole in the ground, with a clockwork man inside it. Next to the clockwork man was 3 arrows bent in a circle. Thinking it meant they had to fix up a clockwork, shove it in a specific hole, and wind it up, they discussed how they might do that, and where the hole might be.
They decided they didnt have enough info, and continued exploring. After another locked door, and a quick hallway and heavy door later, they found another ornate door. This one contained 6 glass spheres -- four of them were filled with a spiral blue light. One of them was dark and not glowing, but featuring the same pattern as the 4 glowing. The 6th was also dark, but charred and burnt, like it had broken and shorted out.
Opal theorized that these were tied to the enhancement stations. They had found at least 2 so far -- Opal used one and it turned off, while the other they found was malfunctioning and broken. If they found more stations, maybe they had to get all the lights on or off to open the door.
Opal went north, while Ryder went east and found another enhancement station. Taking the soul coin Naro had given him, he dropped it in the slot. The power swirled about him, and filled him with energy -- he stepped off the platform, feeling slightly stronger. He went back to the door they had just found, and saw that another of the lights was turned off. Now there was 3 turned on, and 3 turned off.
Opal meanwhile peeked her head in a room, only to find a clockwork soldier stomping towards her. It drove its halberd into her, wounding her. Deciding "fffffffffffffuuuuuuuck this!", Opal turned heel and sprinted away, scrambling over rocks and through doorways. The clockwork soldier calmly moved back into its guard position.
As Opal ran back to meet up with Ryder again, Naro was exploring the rest of the northern rooms. Following a mess of hallways, he found himself in another room with an enhancement station again. He grumbled about his lack of soul coins, and turned around. Seeing a chest in the room, he opened it up, hoping for some goods. Instead he found another silver key, this time with a note wrapped around it. "That fucking door never says what I want it to say" the note read. Naro folded the paper up and put it in his pocket.
He checked the next room, and found another chest complete with a map piece in it. Looking around the room, he saw a futuristic device sitting in the center. It appeared to be a chair with wheels on it. Naro sat on it, and found himself slightly rotating.
"Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" he joyfully yelled, spinning in place.
Thoroughly entertained, Naro grabbed the chair and begun dragging it with him through the halls.
Exploring the halls some more, he found a room where the floor was covered in glass. Looking down at his bare feet, he decided against that room, and checked some other ones. He found one with noxious fumes in it. Holding his breath, he walked to the end and found a bottle of white liquid, with a blank label on the bottle. Returning, he checked the other side of a cave in, and found yet more potions -- another white liquid one, a purple one, and a red one. Stuffing all of them into his bag, he made his way out of the northern rooms. Here he found Ryder and Opal, who had returned to fill him in on what they found. Naro in turn showed them the note he discovered, then turned to Ryder and said "I found another eidolon!" pointing at his rolly chair.
The party took their newfound knowledge, and went back to the talking handle. "Oh hello again!" Said the handle.
They ignored it, and started discussing their plans. Furnace was obviously the password, but it didnt matter if they said it. "Maybe it has to read it?" they thought. "Lets write it down!"
Ryder grabbed one of the new writing utensils he got, and stood in front of the talking door handle. Writing on the wall the handle was facing, he spelled out F U R N A C E.
"Oh look!" The handle mentioned "the password!"
"What does that say?" Ryder asked, motioning towards the words on the wall.
"Furnace!" said the door handle, and the door opened.
Jaxton, from within the newly opened room, looked over to his right, startled.
"Who the fuck are you? how did you get here?" He demanded. From Jaxton's point of view, only Ryder and Kir were visible.
Ryder looked in, seeing Jaxton standing near 4 shiny purple clockwork soldiers. The room featured a large stone staircase heading upwards in the center of the room. The walls were covered in gears, big and small -- any open space was then covered in schematics and posters.
Ryder remarked "Who are you??", but was met with a cold stare from Jaxton. "It doesnt matter who I am" he said "It doesnt matter who you are. Other souls are just energy for my uses anyways."
Jaxton motioned to his 4 clockwork soldiers around him, and they moved closer to the newly opened door. "Clockwork being make much better servants than anything living anyways."
Ryder replied "Well let me introduce you to my servant then" and motioned Kir forwards.
Jaxton grew frustrated, and attempted to cast a spell on Ryder "Why dont you just do what I say!" he demanded. However Ryder's will was too strong, and the spell faltered. Jaxton made his way to the stairs in the center of the room, and called over his shoulder "Fine! Deal with him" to the clockwork soldiers in the room.
The clockwork advanced on Ryder and Kir, as Naro and Opal braced themselves outside in the hallway.
Time once again stopped.