1.10 – River of Souls

There’s something different about the System than it was in times of old. Long ago, the ancients made use of the System to create massive civilizations that spanned continents, each city a piece of art more wondrous than the next. Now, we are little more than tribal beings, content to war with our neighbors. The System used to inspire to create, to reward those that did. Now, it rewards senseless slaughter for something as little as experience. We used to be one people no matter the race. Now, we fight brother against brother. What caused this change?

– Petra, The Sage of the Wild

 

I need rejuvenation. I need to see the sun. It’s been too long. I think I’m getting winter depression. If my internal clock is right, though, it won’t be up for another four hours. I content myself filling in the other half of my garden with silt. It doesn’t take long, and I figure out that I can add bits of |aura of warmth| to hopefully help my plants grow. And grow they have! The banana sprout has grown. Little leaves are poking out of the soil.

And the lichen, my lichen. It’s completely ignored the soil in the dish and latched onto the rock itself, looking like little grey explosions of growth. I give a little laugh. My plants are growing. Peace floods me. This. This is what I’m meant to do. Raising these little guys, protecting them. Giving them a safe place in this unforgiving wilderness. Grow well, little guys.

Then I growl, my happy mood dissipating instantly. Something once again has entered my domain. Really? I can’t even go two hours without something intruding? My fish swarm, sensing my agitation.

Little one! Little on! Call your guards off!

“Ah’m?”

Yes, Little one. Call them off. I apologize for intruding once again. I have need to speak with Little one. 

“Fishies, let Ah’m up,” I sigh. Ah’m lumbers into my garden after a few minutes with difficulty. I almost laugh. The whale dog is covered in silk webs. Looks like Niko did his job. I’ll have to reward him later.

“Watch the plants.”

Plants? Ah’m looks at me in confusion. Ah, greens, little little greens. Little one has grown much to make greens. Much like land-dwellers. The whale dog swings its head around and grunts in appreciation at my plants. It’s then I notice there’s something hanging from its mouth that was covered my silk earlier. Is… is that a seal? Please don’t tell me it brought its lunch…

“Ah’m.” I jolt. The seal just spoke. It’s not dead? “Ah’m! Let me down already!”

“What? Why?”

See. I brought Land-dweller. Ah’m drops the seal and gives a grin of self-satisfaction, showing a mouth full of threatening teeth which I tried to ignore. Did it just call the seal a land-dweller? That makes absolutely no sense.

“Oh, come on, Ah’m,” the seal harrumphed. “How long have you known me now? Do you really not remember my name? Now, where’s this Little one that you wanted me to meet? I’d like to introduce myself, but I don’t seem to see her, though I heard her voice earlier.”

The seal suddenly stretched itself with its face pointing to the ceiling, and then something… happened. It’s skin spit straight down its stomach. That’s the best way I have of describing it. It was disturbing. I watched in rapt horror as two pale arms reached and lifted the head of the seal away like a like the hood of a coat. The thing stood up out of the seal skin, and I realized it was a man standing there with pale blond hair and dressed in various animal skins. He reached down and picked up the seal fur and draped it over his shoulders.

There. ‘Tis Little one. Ah’m gestured to me with its snout. What the heck just happened?!?

I chose to be an adventurer. I can’t say Mother was rather fond of the idea, but the lure of treasure was too great. – Latell Mitchell 

Congratulations! Adventurers are the first major hurdle a dungeon has. Not many live to tell the tale.

Level [12]!: You have encountered your first adventurer. (+4 health; +4 mana: +5 path points; full restore)

 

“Ah’m. I don’t understand. What are you pointing at? The only thing that’s over there is a… gem?” He’s an adventurer? Crap, crap, crap!

“Ah, um. Hi…” Best impressions, best impressions. I tried to brighten a little in greeting, but I fear that I failed miserably at the task. I have no idea what’s going on, and that scene of him climbing out of the skin did not help my nerves one bit. Crap! He could be here to kill me! I’m just a sparkly gem! I’m too pretty to die! Stupid whale dog, why do you haunt me so!

“Ah’m. It-it-it talked!”

Yes. Little one talks.

“B-but it’s a gem! It’s a gem that talks!”

Yes. Little one does talk, Ah’m said exasperated. Oh no. Now he’s going to kill me ’cause I’m creepy. My light fluctuates wildly. Little one, calm down. This one ’tis an idiot.

“Is it…? It’s a dungeon! No no no! Ah’m what did you do?! You brought me to a fricking dungeon! And right to its freaking core! We’re going to die. Oh, we’re so going to die.”

Stop that, idiot. Ah’m smacked him on the head with a paw. Little one ’tis not dungeon. ‘Tis safe haven. The man seemed not to notice and continued ranting.

“But dungeon! Why is there a dungeon here? There hasn’t been one for at least, like a thousand years! And now there’s all of a sudden one here, way out here in middle of nowhere for goodness knows why! And you just had to bring me to it! Right to the place it’s most defensive of! I’m too young to die!”

Ah’m pounced and knocked the man to the ground and roared in his face. I said shut up, Idiot! Listen to me! ‘Tis safe haven! Protects! You not touch Little one, Little one hurts not. Little one different. Not like dungeons of many cycles past. Now. Idiot. Figure out why.

“Different?” The man leans his head back to stare at me from the ground, whale dog still hovering ominously over him. The man pauses to think. “That’s right…” he says slowly. “The dungeons in the records… it never said they had any sentience. But this one, this one here can speak. Little one. What makes you different? Why are you here?”

“Um? Uh? I mean… I honestly have no idea what’s going on right now. I mean, I’m just trying to survive. I don’t know what happened. I just woke up one day in the middle of nowhere and now it feels like every things been trying to kill me since.”

Not me, Ah’m said proudly.

“Oh, no! Ah’m, I have a bone to pick with you! You’re the one that started it all! Right when you decided to burst through my freaking floor! You know what came after you? Do you, you stupid whale dog?”

Ah’m frowned. ‘Tis not a whale dog, though, it said, sounding slightly offended. The man crawled out from under its paws. ‘Tis Akhlut.

“Wait, let me get this straight? He burst through your floors?” the man said.

“Ah’m’s a he?”

“Of course he is.”

“Well, I never realized, since I refused to give it such a designation.” The man laughed.

” Haha. I’ll have to use that term more often. I wonder why I didn’t come up with it. Alright. I can see your holding a grudge. Well, tell me then. What came up after this stupid whale dog who burst through your floor? ”

“You haven’t told me who you are,” I pouted. “What if you bring something along for the ride as well.”

“Ah, you’re right. I forgot about introductions. You really are different, aren’t you?”

“I guess? I wouldn’t really know.”

“My name is Nattiq Morlo. I’m a selkie adventurer. The Sage of the Wild was my great-grandmother. I met Ah’m when he washed up on my tribe’s shore just south of here by about forty miles. I was about… seven at the time? He was annoying to take care of. Always complaining until Mam-gu, ah Grandma Petra, would hit him on the head to be quiet. Haha. He’s been annoying my tribe ever since. My mother is from a Aleut tribe. My father from a Brythonic. Mam-gu’s from dad’s side. Mam-gu Petra knew everything there was about ancient civilizations. She traveled the world. I would take you to her, but she passed on to the great river of souls in the sky last year,” he said and then blushed. “Sorry, I’ve often been told I ramble. That was bit long for an introduction, huh. Oh, right. I solemnly swear that I will never bring anything bad to your domain.”

“Um. Okay… I’m–My name’s–I’m called–” Devin. I struggle. My name won’t come out. My light dims in frustration.

“It’s okay. You don’t have to tell me.”

“I have one. It’s locked though. It won’t let me say it!”

Little one’s name ’tis Little one. 

You have been given the name [Little one] by Ah’m the Akhlut. Will you accept this designation? (y/n)

 

“My name is not Little one! Its-”

 You have rejected the name [Little one].

 

“Okay, okay, it’s not Little one. Do you have any names besides yours, which you can’t seem to say, that we can call you by? I’ll try my best to figure out why your name is locked.”

I think for a moment. “Haven, maybe? It… it feels right. I… like protecting things. And it’s not too different from mine.”

“Alright, Haven it is. Nice to meet you, Haven.”

You have been given the name [Haven] by Nattiq Morlo.

You are naturally more inclined to protect than to harm (+15 path points; +5 health regeneration; +5 mana regeneration; +50% regeneration rates for those who seek haven in your domain. +5% plant growth speed)

 

“Woah, what was that?” Nattiq asked. “I lost quite a bit of mana and now it’s coming back a lot faster than it normally does.

“I think it’s ’cause you named me. I got a something that allows me to give 50% more to your regeneration if you’re seeking haven in my domain… or something like that.”

“Woah! That’s crazy! I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere that gives that big of a bonus. Wait, we’re getting off track. You told me you’d tell me what did come up after Ah’m? It’ll give me some dirt on him, which is surprisingly hard, since he’s so stupid.”

Hey. ‘Tis not stupid. I bring Little idiot seal here. ‘Tis smart.

“Ah. It was the stupid guy, Ren Kilt or whatever, that was chasing him.”

“Wait, what?”

Rin Khult. ‘Tis naitaka. The man whirled on him.

“A naitaka was chasing you? And you brought it here?! What level was it?”

No more than 20 or so.

“It was level 54.”

“Level 54?! What part of 54 is no more than 20?!” Nattiq turned to me. “What happened?”

“I killed it.”

Oh, Little one killed Rin Khult? ‘Tis impressive, Little one. 

“I nearly died!”

“What level are you?”

“Right now? I’m 11. No wait, 12. I just leveled up when you came. I was level 3 when it came.” He whirled on Ah’m again.

“You brought a level 54 naitaka to a level 3 dungeon core! Why the heck would you do that, you stupid idiot!?” It was rather refreshing to see someone else yelling at the whale dog.

‘Tis no harm done. Little one survive. If not, Little one not different. Little one not meant to be. But Little one survive, so Little one meant to be. Little one different. Little one help. I ’tis have feeling. World change now Little one meant to be.

“I’m guessing the sliver fish here came after you killed it?”

“And an eira.”

“How did you kill it, the naitaka?”

“I got lucky. Drove off the eira, though.”

“You stupid idiot whale dog! What kind of reasoning is that? I’m tired of your stupid way of thinking! You’re not even making sense! What the heck does that even mean?”

Little seal. Many not realize, the river of souls dims. No new souls join in many, many cycles.

Nattiq froze. “What do you mean?”

Go take look. ‘Tis out tonight. Not see from Little seal’s tribe, after all. Too far into warmer waters.

Nattiq rushed out of the room.

“What’s the river of souls?” I ask.

‘Tis river of lights flowing in sky. Souls of dead flow to join in cycle of life and death, only… cycle ’tis long been broken, though legend ’tis still carried down with Little seal’s people.

“What does it mean that it’s dimmed?”

Little seal’s Sage not return to river of souls. Ah’m’s face grew sad. Nattiq returned to the room just as he said that.

“Is it true?” Ah’m only nodded. “Where is she?”

Ah’m knows not. 

“Haven can help?”

“What? How can I help? Look, I’m sorry about your grandmother, Nattiq, but I know nothing about this.”

Little one can help. I ’tis have feeling. My feelings never wrong. 

“How? She’d have to be Legendary or something to have any kind of affect on the river of souls! Clearly, she’s n-” Nattiq was cut off as I suddenly started glowing. We all froze.

Congratulations! You have been correctly identified as the legendary dungeon [Haven]. Take care. Something now looks your way. (+100 health; +100 mana; +100 path points; +50 to health regeneration; +50 to mana regeneration; 50% to domain growth speed; [Ice Manipulation V] and [Earth Manipulation II] combine to form [Elemental Manipulation X] (highest level, 10 cmR/ 1 mana))

 

Before I could even get excited about this crazy new skill, I felt… something. It made me physically shiver. It was cold. It was wrong. It was looking at me.

You… What are you.

 

It began digging into me. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think.

 Do not touch. 

 

The effect of whatever it was, lessened on me suddenly.

You! Why are you here?! You shouldn’t exist!

 

Nattiq wobbled. He turned towards me and started walking with drunken steps.

“Nattiq? Nattiq, what’s wrong?” His eyes focused on me. There was nothing there in his eyes, nothing but a sea of red.

“Nattiq! Ah’m! Something’s wrong with Nattiq!” I looked towards Ah’m. The whale dog’s eyes had turned red as well, and he took a heavy step towards me. I reel back. I’m scared! What’s happening? It’s wrong! It’s all wrong! Why? Why are their eyes like that? Why is it still looking at me? It hurt so much! Something make it stop!

This is my World.

 

I felt something whoosh out, with me as the center. All of a sudden, the two topple to the floor, and the presence of it was gone.

It is dangerous, small one. You must grow. The world focuses on you, now. You will not live long if you stay still. Grow towards the sun…

 

Someone, please, tell me what just happened.

 

 Status Menu 
Name: Haven [Locked]* Race: Legendary Dungeon* Level: 12*  Attribute: Green
Health: 91/171* (70/hr)* Mana: 172/172* (70/hr)* State: Normal
 Rooms: 4 Floors: 1 Named Monsters: 1
 Monsters: 35 Animals: 0 Plants: 2
[Ξ]
Path Points: 176*
Paths: {Beginner III (0/12)} {Ingenuity I (0/50)} {Valiant I (1/100)} {Defender I (0/10)}
Skills: [Influence II] [Incorporation III] [Ambient Aura VII] [Plant Growth I] [Green Thumb I] [Tamer II] [Karma I] [Natural Projectile III] [Core Teleportation] [Epithet] [Elemental Manipulation X]*
Achievements: |Ingenuity!| |Powerful!| |Dauntless!| |Against the Odds!| |Crack Shot!| |Breeder!| |Safe Guard!|

 

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AN- so… yeah.

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