(OOC: For the record, this happens before both Canti’s and Senna’s posts)
Decapitation is never a fun thing. Of course, there were perks to it. For instance, the fourteen seconds he experienced as a head without a body were probably the most interesting fourteen seconds of his existence, but with any luck he wouldn’t have to repeat it again. Granted, part of him wanted to repeat the experience to learn more about it, which stood in direct opposition to his natural instinct to not die, but what was one more instinct to learn how to overcome? Still, experiments in this realm would leave him entirely useless, so they would have to wait at least
until they returned to the hideout with Nall safely in tow.
The air was horribly stale. While being a ghost provided respite from the unbearable heat of the field, the air quality took a sharp dive for downright awful. There was no scent to it, but it just tasted so stale: like being in an airplane at 35,000 feet. Granted, that particular taste was aided by the fact that when in an airplane, one is most likely surrounded by an entire horde of other people, so it has an almost subconscious claustrophobic effect of making the air more difficult to breathe on account of reactionary inflammation of the trachea in an almost asthmatic ordeal. Or in layman’s terms, everyone needs a little elbow room. Being dead, however, provided more than enough elbow room to spare, though the general lack of sensation in the body contributed to claustrophobia, but air was air was air.
It was only after Sheena had recovered the cape that they had decided to turn and head out, and even then it was only Nighthand who remembered the comrade who’d slain the squiddish puppeteer and decapitated himself in the process. Rip Maen was cast hastily as the party exited the room, returning Dien to the tastier (albeit hotter) air of the living realm. A quick check showed new levels he’d not had before, putting him up at level twenty eight. To think that hacked monsters gave EXP was astounding, but it wasn’t exactly like this was a new experience for him. After all, he had
been slowly leveling since joining the group, and how else would he have gained levels but through experience in fighting monsters, unless it was some byproduct of Twilight working within his character data. Hell, Cait or Cobalt may have tweaked it so he would periodically receive more levels.
A flashmail from Nighthand indicated a short lull in the action – time spent best stocking up, according to the blademaster. He would need stronger armor to match his stronger level, but at the same time, he didn’t exactly have the time or patience to deal with the NPCs’ AI that would try to sell him stuff that he didn’t want.
Hell, he didn’t even need to buy the best armor set, just the armors with useful spells that he didn’t already have. Quickly, he composed and fired off a flashmail to Cobalt.
Just reached level 28. Was level 25. Best armor to buy?
“I’ll be right back,” he said, fishing the desired Sprite Ocarina from his bag of infinite holding and letting its effect throw him back to the front entrance of the dungeon. He’d forgotten just how hot it was here, and while it was a refreshing departure from the dull, arid heat of the dungeon’s chambers, it was a bit too much for him to handle. Without another moment to spare, he opened up the gate dialogue and was pulled from the field and back to the hideout.
A flashmail and a few encounters
with the NPCs
later, and he was back at the gate, returning himself to Gated Folding Stare. Three spells were essential: Ap Vakz, Ap Do, and Rig Seam, and without hesitation he found himself once again at the doorway to his dreams. Only it wasn’t very much to his dreams, and was somehow left surprisingly open. No qualms there. Once again a fiery sword was pulled out to help him through the random pits of death, and he arrived at the main lobby just in time to find Sheena opening the door. All at once, memories came back to him of the doorway from his “recruitment” with Suraisu: the one that provided the descent into the ninth layer of Hell. A look was shot to Canti to see if it had triggered the same response, but regardless, the pack had started to move.
…just what was it with these hackers and their precious, impossibly steep, impossibly long staircases? I mean sure, it was a great way to wear opponents down, but for something like a communications hub that they’d have to access regularly? It just went against the laws of reason.
Fifteen to twenty minutes of mind- and leg-numbing descent later, and he’d caught up with Sheena, who’d come to a stop in a cavern that had been cleft from a single stone. Another thing to notice down here was how much fresher the air was. Not nearly hot in any way: if he had to guess, upper sixties with low humidity, like you’d find in a Canadian High Pressure system (which is only familiar to people in and relatively near the northeast). Still, that wasn’t to take his eyes from the center of the room.
A single pedestal stood up to about waist height, and on its top were four markings. Facing the door was a V of sorts, ninety degrees clockwise was something likely meant to resemble an egg, which was then followed by a bird, and then lastly by a bone. Despite obvious allusions to the life cycle of birds, the blademaster was entirely stumped as of what to do—that is, until he saw the pole at the back of the pedestal – lined up exactly with the bird. Given the perfectly circular construction of the room, it was only a matter of course that it would rotate. It was just a matter of pushing it.
Positioning himself counter-clockwise from the pole, he pushed on the pole, and something rather peculiar happened. It wasn’t the pedestal
that had rotated, but the entire room.
While it was the same effect, the fact that it had moved with such ease was plenty enough to throw the blademaster off. Even without
the rest of his party in the room, that had to be tons of mass that he was pushing as though it were nothing. Physics denied his actions, but since when had the hackers decided to obey physics? It was a miracle in Dien’s mind that thus far there hadn’t been any more physics-breaking moments in their travels through The World.
Still, it was time to test this rig out. The target was the bone-room, which most likely meant that the bone would have to be facing the doorway in order for it to line up correctly. As he presumed, it did, and he had little trouble stopping it before getting his first glimpse of what lay beyond. Memories flooded back with the view—some good, others not so good—as his gaze fixed on the meadow beyond. Without so much as a sideward glance to the others, he proceeded through the door.
It was a field about the size of a baseball diamond, lined with thick forestry and covered with unattended-to grass that reached up to about his knees. Light green stocks bent slightly near their peaks, letting the flowers and seeds scatter to the wind as the case was. It was afternoon, so the sun was strong, despite the constant, light breeze that made the air almost brisk to walk through, making him wish that his cloak still had the arms attached. Still, with the glow starting to return to him, there was some shielding.
Passing through the center of the room revealed nothing particularly interesting about it, besides the crystal clear blue skies above that were lined by thin, white clouds in the uppermost layers of the atmosphere. The realism in this game still continued to amaze him, even in the face of impending doom. Dying here wouldn’t be so bad,
he thought, his pace slowing as he neared the edge of the forest, maybe if things don’t work out and we lose to the Elite, they’ll grant me a last request of dying here.
The hell was he thinking? No Elite was going to kill them. Not now, not ever.
Feet stood still on the brim of the border of the field he’d just passed through, the undergrowth impossibly thick to get into, let alone try to move through. Even if somehow he were able to hone all of his energy into one solid, long strike through the undergrowth, he doubted it would do any good. Observation told him nothing of this particular field within the field – particularly that there was nothing resembling an egg. Granted, the doorway was of particular interest. A stone archway lined what he’d walked through. Despite his preliminary investigation, he hadn’t noticed it at all, and what was particularly interesting about it was that from the back, it was nothing more than an ordinary archway. Curious, but not enough to confuse him.
Stepping through it and turning yielded the doorway he’d wanted, and stepping back through that left him back in the Pivotal Room, pushing on the pedestal again to turn the room so that the door was facing the “bird” room. Examination revealed another meadow of much the same design as the last. No birds, and it was definitely a different meadow, but so far as he could tell, there wasn’t anything in this one that wasn’t in the last one. Turning the room to the egg room revealed the same, and he sighed.
Elemental connotations pointed to the rooms as being really rather Juk-oriented, so maybe something would happen if he were to activate Gan energies…
“Gan Zot!” From the middle of the egg field spires of earth shot skyward, dancing in their places and ravaging the ground for all of five seconds before retreating into the earth below, leaving absolutely nothing in their wake. There was nothing different about the room, nothing different about the meadow, and nothing different about Dien whatsoever. With another sigh he called to Nighthand, beckoning him to try turning the room while he was still in the meadow. He saw the man nod and take up his position on the rod. The doorway closed, revealing stone that slid horizontally across its arched surface for a split second.
Only for a moment did his mind tweak at what he saw. The doorway returned—as though it had gone full circle—just as soon as it was completely gone from view. Doubtless Nighthand and the others watching had the same brain-screwing reaction he’d had, but he had half expected this much. Tricks and gimmicks like this were common to movies, and with a clever coder, anything Hollywood could imagine up was possible in this realm. Hell, he’d already half figured out the steps they’d taken to create such an effect, and as of yet, he also knew exactly why it had been done this way:
No one could be trapped in these rooms.
With a sigh, he fell backwards, letting the grass cushion his fall slightly as the blue sky and high cirrus clouds came into view, brightly reflecting sunlight from their distant haze into his digital eyes. Damn, why did it half to be fake? Closing his eyes, he composed a flashmail and sent it so he could return to his cloud-gazing. It read:
To: Freedom Fighters (Lambda: Gated Folding Stare)
Re: More Findings…
The room moves, in case you missed the memo. The glyphs on the pedestal seem to reflect stages in the life of a bird, starting as an egg, growing into a bird, and then dieing and decaying into bones. Aligning the door with a glyph reveals a meadow – all three are roughly the same, give or take minor details. Spells, as of yet, have no effect on the field whatsoever besides wasting SP. The undergrowth in the forest is too thick to move through, and the doors are kinda trippy from the field side – especially if you try to move the room while someone’s still inside. Aside from that, the weather’s nice, albeit a bit cool compared to what we all seemed to get used to on floors above.
I can think of no further course of action to test the meadows besides having everyone file into the same one. The door won’t close behind us, but by the same token I don’t think anything can happen in these fields until the Pivotal Room is empty. It’s just a shot in the dark guess by me, though. I’ll be gazing at the clouds in the Egg Meadow – just come get me if you need me.
(OOC: Sorry for having trampled upon that, guys, but I did
script that turning-the-room-while-someone’s-in-the-meadow thing with nights. If you’ve got an idea that requires Dien to leave the egg room, just come get him. He’ll comply with requests to leave, albeit begrudgingly)
Nighthand edit: the doors can in fact be closed. it's just whoever is inside a meadow when it's closed off doesn't experience the time spent within it. to them, inside, the door looks like it closes and immediately opens. to us outside it acts just as it would without someone in a meadow.