ToME: the Tales of Maj'Eyal

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:15 am 
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Higher

Joined: Sat Mar 23, 2013 11:54 am
Posts: 55
Location: minmay
Nothing makes me happier than seeing a new Burb Lulls post.

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complaints about balancing for higher difficulties seem to come exclusively from people without a good understanding of ToME's balance in the first place. bpat

I've only ever won with archmage on normal/adventure. - DG


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 10:08 am 
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Spiderkin

Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2004 5:20 am
Posts: 480
Location: Blighty
APRIL FOOLS DAY SPECIAL

Image
Image

Well? You heard the Protector!
Whoever comes up with the best slogan for the Ziguranth will receive a "prize"!


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 10:41 am 
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Uruivellas

Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:29 am
Posts: 703
Location: Turtlemire
"The Fearscape fears us."

I know, I know. I have the creativity of a fluffy bunny.

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<mex> have you heard the good word about archmage?
<mex> I'm here to tell you about your lord and savior shalore archmage
<mex> have you repented your bulwark sins yet?
<mex> cornac shall inherit the Eyal


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 12:20 pm 
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Uruivellas

Joined: Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:56 am
Posts: 645
StarKeep wrote:
"The Fearscape fears us."


Ok, thread over. Now where's the pie?

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My addons: UI Mod, Auto-explore & Rest Tweaks, Dev Tools,
Bosses Gone AWOL??!?


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 6:14 pm 
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Thalore

Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 8:25 pm
Posts: 141
"In light of the Blaze,
And the dark of Blight,
We must do what we think is right,
Though many still wield Magic's might,
We too have power,
And Will to fight."

Because no slogan challenge should be without a GL reference.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 9:57 pm 
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Sher'Tul

Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 9:53 pm
Posts: 1105
I miss those posts. Been 4 years now I suppose we'll never get more, but I'm still checking every week...


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:52 pm 
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Thalore

Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2017 7:12 pm
Posts: 179
The fact that you posted here to bemoan the lack of Ward got me to actually read these - I'd never heard of these existing before.

So, on behalf of my complete lack of productivity at work today, I thank you.

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Let slip the toast of war.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:14 am 
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Spiderkin

Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2004 5:20 am
Posts: 480
Location: Blighty
    ZIGUR

“A mage. Unrepentant instigator of the Spellblaze. Agent of Eyal's inevitable destruction. Demonfriend. Fleshburner. The antithesis of all that the Ziguranth stands for...”

Aloysius snarled, hefting a waraxe with vicious speed, “And she has her feet on the Protector's table!

For the fourth time Myssil silently glared at Aloysius, and for the fourth time he sullenly lowered his weapon and drew back. With Serae dragged from her rooftop perch by Ward and Fearne (to which she offered no resistance), she now found herself sat within Myssil's home, in the very same seat that Ward had taken for the duration of his own pre-initiation grilling. Ward himself couldn't help but suspect that Serae's interrogation was not going to go as smoothly as his own. He and Fearne now stood side by side, lurking at the chamber's door in case of any trouble from the visiting mage.

“So... Serae,” Myssil began, her professional tone a stark contrast from Aloysius' grumbling and seething, “I imagine you can guess my first question for you.”

“I daresay,” Replied the mage coolly, coil of blonde hair twisting about her finger.

“Tell me. How did you manage to infiltrate Zigur without being detected?”

Serae flinched – that was not the first question she was expecting. She thought it'd be more about her motives for joining the Ziguranth, her 'Angolwen in ashes' proclamation... She sat up straight, removing her feet from Myssil's table; clearly she wouldn't be able to just repeat the answers she had rehearsed in her head.

“How I wasn't detected...?”

“Out with it, already!” Pressured Aloysius.

“Well...” A few seconds to reorder her thoughts, and Serae's relaxed demeanour recovered, “T-That's easy. I am what you would call an arcane blade. Not a true mage, as some of my oh-so-enlightened peers would say,” She snickered, “As such, my mana does not regenerate naturally. So you see, I purposefully expended the entirety of my mana before coming here, both so that I could not be sensed and slain before stating my case, and also to avoid any attempts at a mana clash so you can stop trying already.

The trainer, whose hand had been aimed squarely at the back of Serae's head for the length of her questioning, his face contorted with effort, finally let his arm drop as he slunk out of the room with a grumble.

“But anyway,” Serae continued, “That's pretty much how I did it. Clever, no?”

“Indeed,” Myssil nodded, a hand on her chin, “Clever. Still, that's about all I wanted to know. Kill her.”

At Myssil's command there was a blur of violent activity. Before she could react Serae had been slammed against the table before her, Ward and Fearne restraining one arm each. Aloysius, his expression not unlike a young child's upon receiving a large bar of chocolate, brandished his waraxe before holding it close against Serae's neck. In one swift motion he held it aloft, and swung—

“Void energy!” Serae gasped, her suavity well and truly shattered, “Void energy void energy void energy!”

“Halt.”

As quick as lightning, Myssil had held out her palm, causing Aloysius to stop his execution of Serae mid-swing. Turning to face Myssil, he wore an expression of sheer bewilderment.

“Protector?! What are you...? You don't mean to say that you're sparing this mage?!”

“I recall saying nothing of the sort,” Myssil spoke as she folded her arms. Although she attempted a professional, level-headed tone, it was quite clear that Serae's exclamation had brought her out of her detached state of observation, “I have decided that I require a few further answers from this mage. You may leave, Aloysius.”

Not immediately lowering his waraxe, Aloysius gazed upon the Protector, his eyes betraying some level of scepticism, “Protector... She infiltrated Zigur. She is a mage. Her honeyed words mean nothing. Whatever 'void energy' means, it should bear no meaning on her immediate—”

Leave, Aloysius.”

Aloysius paused, his gaze darting between Myssil, Serae, Ward and Fearne. With deliberate reluctance he took a few steps towards the room's exit, shot a second look of doubt about the collected group, then finally left in earnest, closing the door gently behind him. No sound of footsteps followed his departure; evidently, he was now waiting just outside the chamber.

“Well!” Said Serae, a slight shudder in her voice from her near-beheading, “Perhaps with that... spirited soul removed from our number, our talk can become a touch more civilised.”

“That remains to be seen,” Myssil remarked, “The words 'void energy' alone grant you but a minute or so of mercy... If you cannot capitalise on them with something more substantial, I'll be calling Aloysius back in before too long.”

“Don't worry, I most certainly can.”

“Still...” Thought Ward to himself. Not being a part of the conversation up to this point, both Myssil and Serae turned to face him with surprise, “To stop a mage's execution mid-swing... Void energy must be no insignificant thing.”

“An understatement, Ward,” Myssil murmured, “Let's just say that it is a considerable factor in my future plans for the Ziguranth.” More than a factor, Myssil thought inwardly... The harnessing of void energy would be more than enough to thrust her plans for the Ziguranth, magic, and Maj'Eyal into their endgame. Still, it was hardly prudent to display her naked avarice for knowledge on void energy at this stage. Especially not in front of someone like this Serae character.

“So then, mage. What do you have to offer us?”

“Information. In a fashion.”

“... In a fashion?”

“Well, it's information on information, to be precise. I know the location of an old halfling complex, built during the wars between them and the Conclave. Built to study the most arcane and unknowable aspects of magic. I am convinced that some of these studies are tied to the research, control, and dare I say creation of void energy.”

“... Information... on information,” Myssil sounded unimpressed, “That sounds perilously close to 'baseless rumour'.”

“No,” Serae was firm, conviction in her voice (for the obvious reasons of avoiding impending death), “I stake my life on it. My coming here to Zigur was no act of whimsy; only warriors of Ziguranth caliber could delve into such a hazardous, hex-filled place as this complex and come back alive. The task is easily beyond me, to say the least.”

“Hrrrrrm...” A long, uncertain grumble escaped Myssil's lips, “I'm not yet certain if you tell the truth, mage, but I'll tell you now – such transparent bowing and scraping does nothing to improve your—”

“I'll go check it out.”

Slowly Myssil turned in her chair to look at Ward, an untroubled smile on his face. She sighed, “... Will you, really?”

“Sure,” He shrugged, “Sounds interesting. Never heard of void energy before this – not even in Robin's notes.”

With a weary shake of her head, Myssil returned her attention to Serae, “Well, mage, thanks to Mr. Ward here's battle lust and lack of flattery resistance, it seems that your death will be postponed for the present.”

“Hooray,” Offered Serae.

However,” Myssil continued, “For the sake of keeping up appearances, and to mollify our wyrmic friend waiting outside that door, it would be best for everyone if they believed you to be dead. Fearne?” Addressed for the first time in the conversation, the marauder roused herself from her daydreaming and looked to Myssil, “Get a convincing scream out of her, would you?”

Fearne needed no further encouragement. With a single step she swooped behind Serae, not-too-gently grabbed her long blonde locks, gave a toothy grin and—

    * * *

EYAAAAAAAAAAAGH!

Leant with arms folded beside the chamber's door, Aloysius smiled and nodded to himself with satisfaction.

    WILDERNESS

And so, Ward departed Zigur and made his way to the halfling complex described by Serae. Like his previous journeys to the sandworm lair and the Daikara he found himself accompanied by a Ziguranth companion. For the first time though, it was an individual he had not met before... At least, that's what he thought.

Ironwood was the name that Myssil gave the Thaloren summoner that now walked by his side in silence. Whether that was merely an alias or not Ward did not know. Compared to the colourful assortment Ward had gotten to know initially in Zigur, Ironwood didn't stand out much. Physically he seemed roughly the same age as Ward, although with elves you can never tell for sure. With a somewhat average tallness, being an elf, and somewhat average long chestnut hair, somewhat average build, somewhat average complexion... There wasn't much about the man that caught your attention.

Which made the sense of déjà vu that Ward felt all the more confusing. His mind was telling him that he had seen Ironwood before, but was being irritatingly vague with the details.

In the end, Ward decided to let the matter lie. If his subconscious didn't care enough about placing him, then his conscious certainly didn't either.

    RUINED HALFLING COMPLEX 1

On reaching the site that Serae had spoken of, Ward was actually quite impressed in how much it didn't look like a secret base dedicated to the study of long-forgotten magicks and artefacts. Indeed, if he hadn't been given the right directions and a description of what to look for then the cluster of squat, single-storey structures he found himself in would have flowed past his conscious thought with the ease of water. Either the halflings of old had the art of hiding in plain sight down to a science, or a lack of architectural flair so stunning that they could truly only create the building equivalent of yawns.

“Really,” Thought Ward, “I at least expected a few wandering ghouls and skeletons to help point me in the right direction. Serae said a lot of undead were still active within the complex, right? So, where are they?”

Ironwood, who walked a few paces behind Ward, gave a tart answer, “If she said they're inside the complex, then perhaps they're inside the complex? They'd hardly survive long if they were wandering around the exterior, would they? People would find out about this place in weeks if they did.”

Ward was hardly enthused by Ironwood's snarky reply, but he could hardly argue it, “The entrances to this place must still be sealed well enough to stop the undead leaving. Guess that means we better find an entrance and, well... give this undead hornet nest a kick, I suppose.”

With zero resistance greeting Ward and Ironwood on the surface, and no great amount of greenery surrounding the desolate stone of the immediate region, their footfalls clacked and echoed about noisily in the empty space as they made their way to what seemed to be the main entrance of the halfling complex. There, before the large gate set upon the complex's largest building, was the only visible attempt at decoration that Ward could see – a statue of an intricate greatsword, longer than Ward was tall, stuck bladefirst into a shallow black stone plinth. Ward only gave it a slight glance before continuing on to the gate, but Ironwood...

“Hey, Ward. This sword here... I think it's real.”

Hearing Ironwood's claim, Ward stopped and turned around, “What?”

“It's real, I think,” Repeated Ironwood, “Not a statue. Come take a close look. This blade isn't stone, it's metal.”

“There are metal statues.”

“Just come take a look, would you?!”

With a shrug, Ward returned to the giant sword and stood beside Ironwood to examine it. To his surprise, it seemed that he was telling the truth – after some initial resistance he found that the blade was loose in its plinth, and that he could shift it slightly.

“Bizarre...” He said to himself, “Random giant halfling sword. Not something you see every day. I mean, I know some halflings suffer from certain... insecurities about their size, and that it was even worse back in the old days but still, how would you even—”

With a reverberating clatter, Ward found his thoughts interrupted as Ironwood gripped the sword by the sides of its blade, hefted it up, hoisted it from its plinth with apparent ease, and let it fall to the ground with a crash.

“Ironwood?!” Ward exclaimed, looking at him and the sword with equal surprise, “How on Eyal did you do that? It would've taken superhuman strength!”

Ironwood offered no answer, his eyes still fixed on the sword as well.

“I mean,” Ward continued, “That thing, it's too big to be called a normal sword! It's too big, too thick! Too—”

“Weightless,” Finished Ironwood, “It's weightless.”

“... Weightless?”

Kneeling down to the great sword, Ward placed his hands on its hilt and made to stand up, only to almost fall over backwards with the ease it took to heft the thing into the air.

“Weightless.” Ironwood re-affirmed.

Baffled by the featherlight giant sword he now held, Ward noticed that near the base of the blade there was an inscription – 'Colyarem'.

In the end, Ward could find little use for Colyarem, but at the same time he couldn't bring himself to transmogrify it for gold, not that it could fit inside the chest anyway. Eventually he decided to do what any ordinary man would do when presented with an oversized sword that was lighter than air: hurl it into the sky with all the force he could muster. Up it flew, through the air, through the clouds, and out of Ward and Ironwood's sight.

A few hours later up in the Abashed Expanse, an apprentice archmage performing errands for Angolwen got the shock of his life.

    RUINED HALFLING COMPLEX 2

With his experiences with Colyarem concluded, Ward began his descent into the abandoned complex of the halfling in earnest. His hopes of a mundane and fairly threat-free battle with the undead were scotched from the very beginning as a necromantically empowered skeleton, clad in plate heavy enough to match Ward's own, fell upon him the moment he began exploration of the complex's first sublevel.

True enough, Ward succeeded in defeating it. But if every skeleton in the place was going to be like that, creaking and shrieking, clattering teeth and bony fingers grasping at his face within seconds of seeing him... It made him shudder.

“Perhaps Kor'Pul has made me complacent when it comes to the undead,” Ward worried to himself, “I'm used to skeletal minions being a bit more... well... crap, to put it bluntly.”

“Worry not,” Ironwood said as he inspected the fallen skeleton's equipment, “I think this one was a rarity. An elite, you could say. But take a look at it's chestplate...”

Working the armour from the skeleton's bony chest, Ward found that, while it offered fine protection, it would be of no use to him. Almost as a counterpoint to Colyarem, it was absurdly heavy, heavy enough to sag Ward's shoulders and impede his gait as he ran. In a sense it was fortunate that the skeleton was wearing it, considering how much more quick it would've been unarmoured.

“Such a pity that it's useless,” Sighed Ironwood, “It's name is carved here, 'Scorchwitch'. Scorchwitch, now that's a Ziguranth name for an artefact. Maybe we oughta bring it back to Zigur with us, present it to Myssil. You never know, there might be a pat on the head in it for us.”

“If you want to, be my guest,” Ward replied, “But I'm not carrying it, it weighs a ton.”

For a moment Ironwood eyed Scorchwitch, weighed up his strength, weighed up its weight, and didn't like the result he came up with. Disappointedly biting his lip, he followed Ward away, leaving Scorchwitch to be heavy and useless in peace.

    * * *

While Scorchwitch was of no use to Ward, he did indeed find something of use on the first sublevel of the complex; no great artefact, but simply a weapon of considerable power. A thunderous dwarven-steel waraxe of gravity.

Ward was quite enamored by it. Ironwood, after having his eardrums battered by its calamitous impacts on skeleton bone for the tenth time, was less enthused.

Ward!” Screamed Ironwood above the deafening din of lightning and crashing that the axe caused while Ward battled further undead, “I know you warriors don't think much of stealth and everything, but at this point I think the noise you make when you're fighting is getting a little ridiculous...!

Lighten up!” Ward screamed back, a smile on his face as he enjoyed the gravity-assisted swing of the axe, clean through a skeleton's skull.

At this point you're not just ignoring stealth, you're spitting in stealth's face! You're eyeing up stealth's daughter!

Ironwood, most enemies know I'm coming already! If they know I'm coming...” Bang! Another reverberating, storm-like crash from the waraxe, “... I may as well make enough noise to make 'em think the world's coming to an end!

By all that is good, you better find another bloody weapon upgrade soon, or we're both going to go deaf in hours!

What?!



Meanwhile...

    ZIGUR

Serae shifted in her seat, feeling awkward. Fearne had been staring at her for ten straight minutes now.

“Is... something bothering you?” Serae asked hesitantly.

Fearne continued to stare.

“... Friend?”

Still no reaction.

Serae decided to change tack. Flicking her hair back and adopting a belligerent grin, she snorted, “Something amiss, Ziguranth? Are you so hopelessly baffled by a magus such as myself stooping to aid your cause?”

Again, this drew no reaction from Fearne. At least, not immediately. Finally, after about ten seconds of further scrutiny, Fearne offered a mere three words.

“I see you.”

“Excuse me?” Said Serae, confused.

“I said I see you.” Fearne repeated.

“I... wasn't aware I was hiding?” Offered Serae, feeling somewhat lost.

“I can see the game you're playing here,” Fearne continued, “You're a mage, and you want to get into the good books of us lot? You want to pal around with Angolwen and Zigur?”

“Didn't you hear me earlier? I assuredly do not 'pal around with' Angol—”

And you're an arcane blade, too? Goodness – a mage, a wilder and a warrior, too? Next you'll be telling me that your dad's a master rogue and your ma was a psion, and that they both trained you during your youth?”

“Excuse me? My parents were bakers—”

“And let me guess, your sword is some super-exotic, eastern thing, not at all the type of 'primitive' blade you see around these parts...?”

“What?! No!” Snapped Serae irritatedly, “It's just a regular broadsword! Look, what's your problem?!”

Fearne leant back in her chair, “I'm watching you, Deviantart.”

And then she went back to staring.

    RUINED HALFLING COMPLEX 3

After progressing by another dungeon level...

    Level 21! +2 Strength, +1 Constitution, +1 Step Up, +1 Vitality

… and another character level, not to mention defeating a skeletal archer-rogue-shadowblade (a real renaissance skeleton by anybody's reckoning), Ward finally remembered where he had seen Ironwood before. It was the pose that the skeleton struck once it had fallen that made it all click.

“You...” Ward pointed, “You're that summoner that Ben killed!”

Surprised by Ward's exclamation, Ironwood gave a small wave, hoping that it would highlight the obvious contradiction in his statement, “Ironwood will do, Ward, but yes, I'm the summoner that Ben attacked.”

Ward approached Ironwood, almost as if to check that he was truly there. “But, how are you okay?” He asked, “I saw the state you were in after the attack. I remember, I think Fearne said something about you being more fungus than man if you ever survived.”

Ironwood chuckled, “That she-thug? Hm, she was closer to the truth than she thought. Look at this!” And, fumbling with his vests stitching for a moment, bared the center of his chest.

Ward stared for a moment. With a small cough he, quite level-headedly, stated, “Ah, Ironwood? There appears to be a large moss cluster... where your heart should be...”

Ironwood nodded, “Lifemold. I could pretend to understand it, throw the words 'symbiosis' and 'metabolism' around a little, but honestly? The oozemancers stuck it in my chest after Ben hacked it open, its keeping me alive, and that's good enough for me. Blood no longer flows through my veins, Ward, but spores. I am more fungus than man.”

“...”

“Thank the Eidolon I don't have a pollen allergy, eh?”

“Crazy,” Ward shook his head, “I didn't know that oozemancers were capable of stuff like that. Thinking about it, it makes me feel...” Ward choked, holding a hand to his own chest, “It makes me feel like... my heart is stopping...”

Ironwood eyed Ward oddly, “Bit melodramatic, don't you think?”

“No!” Ward gasped, in obvious pain, “It feels like my heart is stopping...!

“What?!”

As Ward crumpled to his knees, Ironwood looked about the dark, stony corridor they were in, looking for anything that might be the cause of Ward's pain. He found it.

Barely visible in the darkness of the complex beyond there stood a skeleton clad in armour. Unlike the mishmash of ill-fitting, rusted plate that most skeletons wore, this suit of armour was complete, flawless, ebon-black with an ominous red sheen. Despite the skeleton's lack of eyes, Ironwood could see with no doubt that its hollow eye sockets were fixed on Ward, and about its clenched, bony fist there pulsed a stark black energy.

“Crap, a necromancer!” Ironwood gasped, “That's impending doom!”

“Impending... doom?!” Ward heaved.

“Black magic! No projectile, no curse, i-it just straight-up kills you! Quick, you've got a magic-curing wild infusion, right?! Use it!”

“Wh... What's a magic-curing wild infusion?!”

“You don't have one?! I...!” Ironwood was at a loss for words. All the while, the skeletal necromancer (called Isithra, if its nametag was anything to go by) was silently pacing towards the pair, the energy around its fist growing stronger, “Then... I don't know what to do! How can we stop it?!”

With a single, desperate lunge, Ward rushed forwards towards the necromancer, swung his sword and scythed its outstretched arm off, the bony limb shattering as it struck the dungeon floor. Before either Ironwood or the necromancer could react Ward was upon the skeleton, hacking and hacking and hacking again at its exposed skull, till nothing was left but bone fragments. Isithra lay still.

“... I suppose that's one way to stop it.”

Getting back to his feet, still in quite some discomfort from the various deadened parts of his body gradually becoming invigorated again, Ward shot an irritated look at Ironwood and spat, “Thanks for the help, summoner.”

“Oh, yes, that...” Ironwood blushed, tapping his fingers together slowly, “It's just that... most of my summons know me from the scent of my blood and, well, I don't have blood anymore so... i-it might be a while before I can redomesticate them, so to speak...”

“You're still a man, aren't you? You couldn't have picked up a weapon, swung at the necromancer, tried to throw him off, anything?”

“...”

“Couldn't have... say, thrown a stone, at least? Shouted?”

“Well...”

Seeing no immediate justifications from Ironwood, Ward tutted and made for the stairs to the next level.

“Summoners.”

    RUINED HALFLING COMPLEX 4

“Alright,” Ward slapped his hands together, “According to Serae, this is the lowest floor of the complex. If there are any records of creating or using void energy, there'll be down here. Please feel free to stand there and do nothing while I explore the floor for the notes, 'kay?”

“Oh, would you give it a rest?” Ironwood snapped, “Honestly, you stand idly by and watch somebody slowly die once and they never let you forget it...”

    * * *

In contrast to the dangerous, undead-filled chambers that Ward and Ironwood had descended through to reach the lowest floor of the complex, the lowest floor itself had precious little in the way of opposition, with naught but a few heavily damaged skeletons to hamper the pair. Almost as if some insane, dreadfully powerful escaped test subject had slaughtered its way through the majority of its population.

“Me and my imagination...” Ward muttered to himself as he looked through the reams of tattered, near-disintergrated papers that filled the halfling archives. Even though only roughly one in five papers were of readable quality there was still a great amount of text to sift through, and the lack of immediate success on finding 'void energy' notes was disheartening.

“Find anything yet?” Ironwood asked Ward, sounding apathetic as he too read through the papers. United in boredom, he and Ward had pretty much forgotten about their previous bickering post-impending doom.

Throwing down the wad of notes he had just finished reading (resulting in them collapsing into dust), Ward sighed, “Nothing. Beyond 'void energy exists' and 'it is a thing', these halflings knew nothing about it. They were more interested in their farportal experiments, judging by how much the notes talk about them.”

“You're telling me!” Ironwood waved the papers he was reading, “Farportal this, farportal that, subject Z this, subject Z that. Why didn't these halflings just boink the damn farportal if they loved it—”

“Huh? Subject Z?”

Looking backwards through the notes he was holding, Ironwood replied, “Yeah, subject Z. Out of all the people these halflings fed through the farportal, he was the only one to come back alive and whole. Doesn't actually say what happened to him, though.”

And then, as if on cue, a garbled high-pitched scream echoed through the archives, loud enough to cause the yellowed scrap of paper in Ironwood's hands to crumble.

Within minutes Ward and Ironwood, who had ran nonstop since they left the archives, approached the area where they thought they heard the scream come from.

“This is the place, I think,” Ironwood panted, “You think that was subject Z? He'd have to be ancient to still be alive at this point!”

“I'm not sure...” Ward responded, “I'm not even sure it is subject Z. Subject Z was human, right? I could've sworn that was a yeek's scream when I heard it. Padakkk sounded exactly the same that one time Fearne threw him into a tree.”

“A yeek? But...”

Before Ironwood could continue, the scream came again, much louder and closer this time, and instead of wordless noise it was quite obviously, “HELP!

    * * *

With all the speed they could muster, Ward and Ironwood sprinted to where they had heard the scream for help come from. To their surprise, it seemed that both of them had been correct in the what they had heard. There was a yeek, but there too was a deranged, knife-wielding human, his eyes dead but his mouth gnashing and frothing – Subject Z.

To be honest, Ward didn't know quite what to make of him. There was a strange spasmodic nature to his movements that didn't quite seem natural, but it wasn't nearly blatant enough to make Ward think of anything like the weaver he had faced in the Daikara. A brief acceleration here, a split-second relocation of his limbs' positions there... The combined effect gave Ward considerable pause. What was this man?

Given how Ward was stunned, it was fortunate that Subject Z's target was not him, but the yeek that had screamed for help. What had caused this attack to occur wasn't clear, but it was obvious that it had only started recently, for Subject Z was overwhelming the yeek with frightening speed. Already wounded and staggering, it was only a second cry of help from the yeek that snapped Ward into action.

Rushing forward, he swung his thunderous waraxe and scored Subject Z across the back, a clean hit. He then raised his shield, preparing for Subject Z to disengage from the embattled yeek and focus on fighting him, but was astonished to see that his strike had gone practically ignored, as the frenzied attack of Subject Z on the yeek continued.

Another axe blow, this time to the assailant's neck. A deep gash, but not deep enough to be immediately fatal it seemed. Even as blood poured from the wound, Subject Z continued his single-minded assault still. The yeek's defence was failing, and more of Subject Z's strikes were finding their marks. The yeek fell to one knee.

Growling with desperation, Ward continued to rain axe blows upon Subject Z, now at his limbs in hope of hampering his attacks, now at his vitals to kill him outright. But no matter how he struck him, the millenia-old test subject would not be distracted from his prey. Finally, with one immense downward thrust, Ward drove his axe into Subject Z's head and split it asunder... just as Subject Z's daggers plunged into the sides of the yeek's throat.

With a harmony of death gurgles, both the yeek and Subject Z fell dead to the ground.

    * * *

“Um, so...” With an uneasy smile, Ironwood looked over the remains of Subject Z and his unfortunate victim, “The mess he made of this poor, fuzzy sod... would you call this a 'Yeek-Fur Robe', or...?”

“Not the right time for humour, Wood,” Ward replied, though not as harshly as he could've, “No information on void energy, my utter failure to stop this yeek getting splattered, not having a single clue as what that was even about...”

“Don't blame yourself. You did everything you could.”

“I know, it's just... This whole expedition's been a total mess. Despite everything, we've learned nothing and achieved even less. Frustration, thy name is hidden halfling complex.”

Ironwood nodded in agreement, “Sucks, to be sure. But we survived, and that's always to be appreciated. Say, you don't think this was a con, do you? Do you think Serae knew that nothing was here? Maybe she was just messing with us.”

“Perhaps, perhaps not. Either way, Myssil's the one that'll deal with her, not me. I've got other plans.”

Leaving the assortment of yeek and human remains behind, Ward and Ironwood began to make their long way back out of the complex and into the outside world. “Other plans?” Inquired Ironwood, “Like what?”

“Well... I plan to return to Zigur, save Derth, get some sleep, hurt a storm mage very badly, and have a very large drink. I'll figure out the order when I get there.”


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2018 1:00 pm 
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Sher'Tul

Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 9:53 pm
Posts: 1105
I fell off my chair, Brian… :o


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