Kir stepped forward into the room.
Mirrored across from him was another being, just as big, and just as menacing looking. But Kir was ready.
The clockwork soldier stepped up infront of Kir, and swung its massive halberd, smashing it into Kir's side, dealing massive damage. Kir wasn't looking so good.
A second clockwork soldier stepped up beside the first, and applied the exact same move, driving its halberd deep inside Kir's chest.
With a flash of light followed by darkness, Kir fell to a knee and faded from view.
Ryder was standing in the entrance to the room, with the two clockwork soldiers who just killed Kir in front of him. Behind them was another 2 clockwork soldiers. One of them shifted its gaze to a table, and exuded a strong psychic energy as it prepared to throw the table at Ryder -- however it faltered, and the table rebounded, smashing into the construct.
The fourth metal soldier stepped past Ryder, and entered the hallway, where Opal and Naro were hiding out. It looked at Ryder, and focused its cold mind on the small human. Ryder found himself lifted into the air, suddenly flying backwards straight at Naro.
Naro barely managed to sidestep as his summoner friend flew past, slamming into the ground and letting out a cough of "OOF"
Ryder, looking upwards, saw a green flash. Opal and Naro saw the flash of green as well as an acid bolt whizzed past their heads, striking the clockwork who had thrown Ryder. Acid splashed all over its chest, etching into the metal. The three party members looked back, but saw nothing.
Opal quickly stepped around the downed Ryder, and set her sights on three of the clockwork who were now in a direct line from her. She put her hands infront of her and let loose her final lightning bolt spell -- the first construct deftly stepped to the side, positioning into a better location. The two behind took direct hits to their core.
Ryder stood back up, and patted Naro on the back, buffing him with haste. "go gettem"
Naro sprinted down the hallway and absolutely slammed a fist into the nearest clockwork soldier. His other 5 arms wildly flailed about, yearning to hit the clockwork in front of them as well.
From down the hallway, the party heard a pained grunt, and saw a bit of blood drip to the floor, before an arrow appeared out of nowhere and streak down the hall, impacting the construct at the end again. The arrow seared more acid onto the metal, and pierced the chest armor of the metal man.
Opal, Naro, and Ryder glanced around. Did they just see someone there?
Ryder made his way farther down the hallway, passing Opal. The witch was staring intensely at one of the clockwork, and cackling, attempting to hex it -- but due to the arcane powers that had enhanced the constructs, her hex failed. Ryder glanced as he passed, but otherwise kept his gaze focused on Naro. Keeping his back to the wall, Ryder edged towards the other summoner -- he placed his hands on Naro, and said "you got this", enhancing Naro's strength.
The two clockwork in front of Naro decided it was time to strike, and they decided to give Naro a taste of what they gave Kir. Two massive strikes came down, dealing huge damage to Naro.
The six armed summoner coughed in pain, and then began dishing out his own damage. Thanks to the buffs from Ryder, Naro was a blur of motion and power, as he struck constructs in front of him. He decimated one of them, destroying it, while getting in one extra punch on the one to his left, severely hampering its movement.
Three clockwork soldiers remained, two in the hallway, and one in the control room.
Two more arrows came flying out of the hallway, striking the nearest clockwork in the hallway. The bolts pierced its metal, and splashed acid inside its carapace -- the machine froze in place, and crumbled to the ground broken. Acid from before was still eating away at the other clockwork soldier behind it. Opal, no longer threatened by that construct, focused and cast her gaze onto the construct inside the control room. She summoned a violent storm cloud on top of it, frying the machine and melting it into a bubbling pile of metal on the ground.
Ryder stepped around Naro, and feeling brave, walked up to the final remaining clockwork. He thought of poor Kir, and with all of his strength, punched the construct infront of him. Dealing 1 damage to both he, and the construct, Ryder brought down the final foe, ending the fight.
"WHAT THE SHIT WAS THAT" screamed Naro
"I ALMOST DIED"
"HIS EIDOLON DID DIE"
"WE ARE NOT OKAY"
Naro began freaking out, and looking frantically back and forth. His eyes settled on his Mystic Chair , and he immediately moved for it. Sitting down quickly, he once again reiterated how not-okay he was.
"someone. SOMEONE SPIN ME"
Opal raised her eyebrows, and approached the freaked out young man. She gently gave him a push, and Naro rotated in place about 3 times, calming down slightly.
Meanwhile, a pile of metal moved on its own, and a small red gemstone disappeared from it. Ryder thought he saw something, but couldnt make it out. However Lisk chose that moment to flip back the hood of his cloak, revealing himself. The grizzled war vet stared the other three, and grunted.
"You're not with Jaxton, I take it. Did he come through here?"
"Who's Jaxton?" Responded Ryder.
"Wait, Jaxton was here?" Asked Opal "We heard y'all talkin to someone in there Ryder, what'd he say his name was again?"
Ryder shrugged "He didnt say. He was kinda angry through, had a top knot, didnt wear much to cover his chest, nice big sash and a dope cloak though."
Opal grimaced "yup that sounds like Jaxton"
Lisk looked back and forth, annoyed. "So he DID come through."
Naro stopped spinning, and looked at Lisk. "We want to know who you are! Stop that Markus, not n-- NOT NOW" as he started slapping at his own hands. Lisk raised his eyebrows, and said "Well you're crazy", and turned to walk away. One of Naro's arms slipped out with incredible speed, but he managed to restrain it just enough that it punched the empty wall where Lisk was moments before.
Opal shrugged and responded "thanks for the help!"
As Naro calmed himself down, Opal and Ryder began looking at some of the schematics on the west wall, while Lisk looked at the eastern wall. Opal saw what appears to be a complete version Neimus' Schematic , showing more than just the first 3 and a half floors. She asked Ryder to copy it down, while she looked closer at the plaque to its side. The plaque proudly declared Synthacrosia to be complete, signed by two names -- however one of them was scratched out.
Lisk wandered the room, looking at the tracks left behind. It appeared that Jaxton had had fully ransacked the room, taking everything of value, except for the schematics and plaques upon the walls. Lisk returned to the eastern wall, and took a look at the framed paper upon the wall. What was shown there was an unsettling image -- an 8 tiered structure, with lines flowing upwards, out, and then down, appearing to show a cycle. The unsettling part was the ghostly, ephemeral hands, reaching in from out of frame, towards the structure. Opal wandered over and took a look, and shuddered.
"Its like the hands cant pass that barrier or something" She quietly remarked.
Lisk grunted in return, and took his knife out. He cut the schematic out of the frame, and folded it up, putting it away in his pack.
"Anyway." He said "Who are you?"
"My name's Opal. Elf, researcher, professor, and witch"
Ryder, who was scrounging around in the clockwork remains, stood up. He tucked the three crystals he found into his pocket. "My name's Ryder."
Naro got off his chair and approached. "I am Naro" he said calmy.
Opal did a double take, and said "Arent you Markus?" Naro twitched his head and responded "NO. Markus is my friend. I am Naro. Markus and I work together." Lisk, following this exchange, responded "Ohhhhhh. Not crazy. Just two being with one body." Lisk stuck out a hand to Naro, and said "Lisk. Nice to meet you"
Naro grinned and tilted his head, responding "Actually, I am a little
crazy". And stuck out 3 hands, shaking Lisk's one.
"Well" Said Lisk "Seems we're after a common enemy. Lets go."
And the party ascended, leaving behind The Floor of Strength
and the horrible Level 1 Interstitial
they had been trapped in.
After climbing the stairs for about half an hour, the party started to hear the sound of crashing water. The sound grew and grew until they reached the top of the stair -- at this point the sound was so loud the party was unable to hear eachother unless they yelled. The air was full of mist, with bright sunlight streaking through it. The room they were in was an old stone tower-like room. Through the windows they could see a small pond, and bright light. Naro clapped his hands over his eyes and began screaming "ITS TOO BRIGHT HOLY FUCK SOMEONE HELP"
Ryder and Opal lifted Naro by his elbows, and started leading him out of the area, leaving his Mystic Chair
behind. Lisk was focusing on an off-yellow stone stuck in the wall. "damn" he quietly said "thats a nice stone". He turned, and followed the group of 3 as they walked by him. They began to walk down the hallway attached to the room they came up into. As they walked, the sound of the water crashing down became quieter and quieter, until they reached a large heavy wooden door. The group of them opened the door and went through, and the door smoothly shut behind them. They found themselves in a final room, with a wooden floor and more stone walls. There was a door to the north, and a door to the south.
Lisk donned his cloak, and made his way slightly outside the north door. Looking around, he took in his surroundings. The center of the area was a small shallow lake, with a ruined keep in the middle of it. Cascading down on top of the keep was a waterfall coming from the sky. Lisk looked up and could see no beginning to the waterfall -- the water just appeared out of what seemed to be bright blue sky.
Dropping his gaze, he looked around and saw the area he was in was bordered by incredibly thick jungle. There were some small buildings in the clearing, small huts, and some larger square structures. He saw an Elf
resting on the ground, back against a large rectangular building, whistling a merry tune. The elf had a patchy sparse beard. Lisk started hearing voices coming from the south, and he backtracked to find Opal, Ryder, and Naro conversing with one of the locals.
"So, yer suuuuuure you werent with that angry man?" The local said. He talked with a simple, excitable inflection, and often cut himself off, changing his thoughts mid sentence. "Because that angry man was mean! He stole Samo's
boat. Samo is pretty angry about that. But I'm getting ahead of myself! My name is Vigo
! Samo is my brother. It's nice to meet new people! We like, never see new people. AH I JUST REALIZED! you didnt let the door close behind you did you? we cant open it from this side!"
The party, taking in the words and the new location, just stared for a few moments. After a while, Opal and Ryder looked at eachother, and both responded "shit."
Vigo noticed this, and look down, sad "Damn." he said "next time..."
"Anyways!" He continued "This here is Weirborough
! We’re a small fishing and shipping village at head of The Spillway
. Generally we take whatever comes down the spill, that great waterfall behind ye, and use it to trade with Tamworth
. Those two’r the other cities beyond The Split
"I suppose I should let you know though, don't go touching that river water! Wherever the source of it is, it’s poisoned and cursed. You touch it once, and you’re gonna feel mighty weird for a day. Might even change some parts o ya! Touch it a second time, and the effects are gonna get worse. Jacob, the innkeeper, fell in FOUR times. He’s never been the same since, but that’s not my story to tell.”
Lisk furrowed his eyebrows, and stared at the halfling. "The River sounds shitty. Why do you live near it?"
“We generally only stay near the river, as the forest is too thick to even move through. Mah friend Francis went into it a couple hundred years ago and we STILL aint seen him. Some people say there’s a couple a drow living out there, but i aint never seen em. The story is the drow prowl the forest lookin for slaves, but there’s not enough of em to start up an actual drow community. All the same, ahd avoid the forest if i were you”
"Hmm." Responded Lisk. "So have you fallen in the river before?"
"Just once!" replied Vigo, brightly
"And what happened?"
"Oh I felt real dumb for a day, it was like I couldnt think properly, and words kept comin out wrong."
"So was today the day you fell in the river?"
Vigo's eyes widened slightly, and he looked at Lisk. "N..nnnooooo....?". His expression resembling that of a sad puppy.
"a..anyways, Jacob runs the Inn, and has a tavern up north."
Lisk, hoping to save face with the friendly halfing, responded "Ah! He's the one with the shitty beard?"
Vigo grinned mischievously and responded "Yeah, you'll have to ask him about that!"
Lisk took Vigo by the shoulder and said "cmon, lemme buy you a pint, and I think the rest of us could use a rest."
The 4 party members and Vigo moved up to the Tavern, where Jacob welcomed them. He hadnt had new travellers here in a while, so he brought them all a pint on the house, and told them his tale. He had fallen in the river four times, with the final one being the worst. Previously Jacob was a dwarf, but ever since that fourth fall, he's had to live as an Elf. Which explains the sad excuse for a beard, he just cannot grow as nice of a beard anymore.
Upon hearing that Jacob used to be a dwarf, Lisk shuffled his chair a bit farther away.
Jacob continued, telling them a bit more about the village. He runs an Inn with Alia
, down on the docks. She maintains the Inn, as her potion shop is right next to it. The party would also find Bero's
map shop down there. Alfrida
are often found maintaining Alfrida's boat. Dagobert
is usually there as well, unless he's in his hut.
If they stuck around the lake, they'd probably find Lothran
walking around looking for people to talk to. Cori
would be found at her farm, where she grows the hops for the local beer. On the way to the docks is Nob's
house, across from his fishing and rope shop.
"By the way" Jacob mentioned "If you get the urge, I run nightly drinking contests in my tavern. And the residents here don't get to meet new people that much, they'd probably love to play some Dice Games
with you. They'd probably even wager some things."
"And if that doesn't tickle your fancy, I run a junk stacking contest out back. Even got prizes for winners and whatnot."
The party thanked him for the beer and information, raising their eyebrows at Junk Stacking
. They left the tavern, heading for the Inn. They needed some rest. Opal, Naro, and Ryder began walking south, while Lisk donned his cloak and snuck out west around the lake. As Naro and the crew walked to the docks, they came across Lothran
, who began excitedly talking to them.
"Wowyoumustbethenewpeopleyouarentmeanright? *breaths* sorry, i got ahead of myself! did you know Samo had his boat stolen and someone almost punched Vigo! anyways this is Nob's house and Nobs shop andthis is the way to the docks and my house is over there and jacobs house is that way and oh yeah you probably dont want to meet samo as he's still really mad and...
Meanwhile Lisk had entered one of the huts. He found it to be entirely empty, and covered with a thick layer of dust. The bed was made, but empty. The trunk found in the room was full of old tattered moth-eaten clothes. Lisk noticed he was leaving footprints in the thick dust. He stooped down to look under the bed, and saw an old dusty stuffed animal stowed underneath it. "Dont do this to meee..." he said in a haze of ptsd. He straightened up and left the hut.
Walking farther south, he saw another hut, and decided to chance that one. This hut was significantly less dusty, though still slightly messy. He checked the same places, finding some non-tattered clothes in the trunk in this hut. He again checked under the bed, and found a crude dagger, with "DAG O BERT" roughly scrawled into the wooden handle. He shrugged, placed the dagger back, and left. Quietly he made his way back to the party, spooking Ryder as he removed his cloak.
"Oh!" Said Lothran "hello! i didnt see you before did you catch everything i said oh right are you a bad angry guy? you look angry but you seem to be friends with these people so you're probably okay"
Lisk cut him off "Oh my god lets just go to the dock"
At the docks, the party left the talkative Lothran behind, after he pointed them towards Alia's shop. They knocked on her door, and she came out to meet them. She explained that she was the potion maker here, and just ran the Inn for Jacob because it was right next to her shop. They didnt see many travelers anyways -- no one ever came up from floor one, except for that angry man that stole Samo's boat and almost punched Vigo. The rest of the travelers were just occasional people from Beachcastle and Tamworth.
The party asked if she'd ever fallen in the river, to which she responded "Yes, sadly 3 times. I used to travel on the river until I fell in once. After that, after experiencing the cursed water, I decided to stay off boats. But then one day I had too much to drink at Jacob's, and fell in again... After that I decided to study the water, and started my potion career. However as I was trying to scoop some water up, I fell in a third time, and now my hair wont stop growing... 1 inch per hour, still cant get it to stop.
Lisk responded "And you're the potion master?"
"Oh yes, I've done extensive research" Replied Alia "I'll have you know the water is quite safe if you boil it!"
Opal shuddered, and the party thanked Alia. They entered the Inn, and chose some beds. Opal and Naro in one hut, Ryder and Lisk in the other.
It was the middle of the night. Suddenly Naro slammed his fist against the wood and yelled "FUCK" at the top of his lungs. Flecks of blood could be seen around his mouth. Naro rolled over and fell back asleep.
Opal lay tense in her bed, wide eyed, staring around fearfully. It took her significantly longer to fall back asleep.
In the morning, the party went back into Alia's potion shop, and learned of her unique method of potion bartering.
2 cure light = 1 cure medium, 2 cure medium = 1 cure serious
1 cure medium = 1 mage armor = 1 endure elements = 1 enlarge person = 1 reduce person = 1 vanish
1 cure serious = 1 +4 stat potion = 1 wood shape = 1 blur
After some quick trading, the party came away with some stronger health potions. Naro had traded in his placebo potion for a potion of wood shape, intending to shape himself a visor to block out that awful sunlight.
"You should probably go meet Bero!" Said Alia "He's the old dwarf in the hut you passed on your way here. He makes maps, and will be very interested to talk to you!"
Naro, Opal, Ryder and Lisk made their way down to the dwarf's hut. Lisk stayed near the door as the rest entered fully. The dwarf excitedly began asking questions. Were they really from the first floor? What was it like? Do they have a map? Do they need maps? Is that a map of the first floor?
They soon worked out a trade. The party would give Bero Jaxton's map, and in return Bero would give them 1 copy of the second, third, and fourth floors. He would also make them a map of the first floor, based off Jaxton's, and give it to them as well. Bero had talked to visitors from the higher floors, and through those interviews, made new maps. It had been many years since the last visitor came down from the higher floors though, as the desert of floor 3 is incredibly difficult to traverse.
The party thanked Bero, and walked out back onto the dock. The moved down the dock towards the largest boat, Alfrida's boat. Alfrida noticed them and said "Hello. You must be new here. Please dont try to steal my boat, like Samo's boat. Also please try not to punch Vigo, he's a nice lad. Remi you should come over here, we have guests!"
The ancient elf slowly made his way over to the party. "Hellooo" he rasped.
The party turned from Alfrida, and began conversing with Remi. How long has he been here? What all does he remember? They heard that Alfrida and he rent out their boat, how much to rent the boat? Why do they have it?
Remi nodded and began his story.
"We rent the boat out for 10 whole soul coins! Yes I know it's expensive, but you see the river is a dangerous place, and we have the biggest boat. First there's the fanged beast near the head of the spillway we have to deal with. After that we often run into raiders that never seem to learn to leave us alone. And worst of all is the giant octopus at The Split
. We're the only boat that can resist the octopus a bit, and it actually gives us a chance to handle it. However we always need to repair our boat, and the wood from beachcastle is the best wood. But also expensive. So we do what we can. But hey, between you and me, you folk seem nice. You can rent our boat for 8 coins, and we'll just tell Alia you paid 10."
Remi winked at them, and continued.
"As for me, I've lived in Synthacrosia for nearly a two and a half thousand years now! A lot of my memories have left me sadly though. I remember.... I remember enjoying peaceful relaxing afternoons on floor 1, sitting next to... l...loo.... Locorin
. He and I would sit on those green hills in the dome, watching the new arrivals. I remember the look of pride on his face, as he gave these souls a second life.
Then one day, Locorin disappeared. I have no idea where he went. My memory goes fuzzy after that, and there's a long period of my life that I have no memory of. The next bit I can remember, I'm here on floor 2, and Alfrida here is helping me up onto her boat. I wish I could tell you more"
The party took in Remi's words, and thought them over. They also realized that they were broke, and could not afford the boat. However Remi had told them that soul coins often come down from the spill, and they could find them around the lake in the center of Weirborough. So the party got off Alfrida's boat, and made their way back to the lake. They began to peer inside the water, noticing small glimmers in the depths where soul coins and other objects lay.
Lisk walked near the shore and picked up a smooth black stone, about the size of his fist. "damn" he murmured "this is a nice stone".
Ryder looked deep into the water and saw a bunch of coins deep under there. Naro walked up north, and saw one right next to the edge of the water. He thought "oo, shiny!" and plunged his hand right into the water. Suddenly he felt dumber, less wise, and less charismatic -- though it felt as if it was only a temporary affliction. He pocketed the coin.
Ryder, trying to think of how to reach the deep coins, summoned Kir. After a brief glance at Kir, and obvious relief to see his friend again, Ryder motioned Kir to step into the water -- immediately Ryder felt through his connection to Kir that Kir was affected by the water. Though Kir was temporarily stronger, healthier, and more dexterous, Ryder pulled Kir back. He opened his book, and started turning pages until he found one with two words written in bold on it.
Ryder tapped the page and softly said "ah, yes." He closed the book, cast mage hand, and collected the 7 remaining coins. He also found a floating glass jar with its lid on it, and a small wooden box.
Ryder and Lisk took their new things to Opal, and held them out "What are these?" They asked the knowledgeable elf.
Opal sighed, and pointed at the rock in Lisk's hand. "That's a Resizing Stone
. My professor used to have one on her desk. Spin it clockwise, it gets bigger. Spin it counter clockwise, it gets smaller." She looked at Ryders item. "That's a Seeking Box
. Put something of non-magical material in there, and the box will shake when within 20 feet of the item. Within 5 feet of it, the box will vibrate. It has to be a fairly pure material in the box though -- dwarves often use it for prospecting precious metals."
With that, the party tucked away their new soul coins, and new goodies, and began to walk back to the docks. Once again, time stopped.