dungeoncore

3.1 – Forewarning

To us, there was no forewarning. Or maybe there was, we just weren’t able to recognize it for what it was. First came a monster swarm. Every monster in the ocean for miles climbed up the beach and headed for higher ground. Watersfront was directly in their path. We fought them off. They weren’t concentrating on us. Most just passed on by. We heaved sighs of relief. Next, the air grew stifling. Nothing moved. It was deafeningly quiet. I noticed the ocean slowly receding, leaving foam in its wake. The horizon was hazy. By that time, it was too late. A wall of water had crept up behind that haze, towering above our heads, growing closer and closer, and then… it fell. 

–Jacob Fletcher, survivor of the Tragedy of Watersfront

 

Roaring. So much roaring. My head pounds. Everything feels distant.

“Haven. HAVEN!” Nattiq shakes me. I can’t feel it.

“No,” I whisper. “You’re wrong.”

“Haven! What’s wrong? Are you alright? What happened. Devin, please. Talk to me.” The roaring continues, drowning out his words.

“I’m not ready. Not ready. I’m not. It can’t be happening.” Nattiq shakes again. His worried face appears in front of me.

“I still have time. I don’t. I do. Please don’t come.” My vision fades in and out. My hands shake. No, its my whole body that’s shaking. A panicked light flickers from my core.

“But it is. Something’s coming. It’s there. It’s getting closer. Closer. Closer. No, don’t come.” My breath catches in my throat. No, that’s wrong. I’m breathing too fast. My mana is fluctuating out of control. The whole tree shakes with me, and sliver fish swim around me, agitated. Whatever’s out there, it’s chasing me. I could feel it. I ignored it. Nattiq brought it to light.

“I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.” It was one thing to have things suddenly attack me. It was a whole other thing, something on a completely differently level, to know something was slowly making its way towards me. Its aura…it was palpable. I could feel it even from this distance. The moment it stepped on the Rhew.

Cold. So cold. Colder than the ice around me. Bloodthirsty. Hungry. It wanted to eat. A horrible grin flashes through my mind. One that wanted to swallow me whole. I’m drowning in it. It moved too fast to see. It whispered horrors in my ear. It’s tongue slipped across my skin. Blood comes pouring out in its path. Unconsciously, I latch on to Nattiq’s sleeve with a death grip. (more…)

2.10 – The Gwisin

There are three rules if you ever leave these walls. First: don’t leave the road. Second: Don’t leave the road. And the most important: Do Not. Leave. The Road. It won’t guarantee that you’ll stay safe–even the towns aren’t safe–but sticking to the roads means you’ll have a whole lot better chance at surviving, because in these parts, monsters are the least of your worries. It’s the puca you should be worried about. This whole area has been given to them. They’ve been using it since long ago, and those nations out there have let them have it to keep them under control. Those pricks are guarding the border to make sure we never leave, all because we live in the puca’s ancient breeding grounds.

— Tradesman to his apprentice

 

I was young. They told me to never leave the road. I left the road. There are worse things in the dark than monsters. So, much worse, and with their fingers stuck in your mouth, they force you to smile. When I was found and returned to my parents, they say I changed. I don’t remember what I was like before.

That was long ago, so long ago, I’m used to the break. The break in my mind that only widens as the rain pours gently down. My black clothes, ripped and covered in blood, is slowly soaked in the down pour. My black hair sticks to my face, long enough to brush my lip. I peek through it. The man lying here had followed me. He wanted to rob me. I laugh and the man, the dead man, lies there bleeding in the rain. I search his pockets. Find a pouch of money. I take his knife as well. Then, I eat.

Red, red meat. Blood dribbles down my chin. A dark taste, and it goes down hard, but I eat anyway. It’s the only thing I can. My eyes roll back as I swallow. A chill runs through me.

Then, I get it. So much red. (more…)

2.8 – Crossroads

I came to a crossroads down in the desert, and I knew not which way to turn. The sun burned in the east, and the wind howled in the west. My way I could not discern. My lot I threw in with the stones, carved with ruins of old, though I knew many would curse me and accuse me of selling my soul. To the south, they pointed. Don’t follow the road. Make of it what you will. I’ve made my choice, carved out my own way, one that doesn’t follow the world.

— The Traveler’s Shadow, a bardic tale

I crack my knuckles ominously and grin at the sound. I tried to do it a few minutes ago, but it didn’t work. It was a humiliating sight for the next few minutes where I tried to figure out how to modify them so they’d pop properly, but I got it now and I’m raring to go.

I stare intensely at the face in front of me. It didn’t deserve to live in this world. It was an offense to the eyes. It needed to die, and I was the person to help it along.

“Well, then. How shall I go about killing you?” I say sweetly to that despicable face. “No need to worry. It won’t hurt a bit.” I plant my feet solidly and feet the momentum build as I begin to twist, building up from the legs into the waist, up through the spin and shoulders, down the length of my arm and out through my fist. A solid punch that would have broken even a stone, only I grimace and droop. I completely missed my target.

“Timp,” I say, looking down at the little owl cat. “Maybe I’m just not cut out for this anymore. I only remember bits and pieces. I thought I could fight, but it looks like I can’t.” I crouch down and snuggle the feline bird in my arms.

“Chirrririp,” Timp cries in protest, struggling to get out from my grasp.

“Why did the system name you Timp anyway? Why didn’t I get to name you? Hey stop that, haha.” Timp pushes against my cheek with a paw.

“Chichichichirip!” She calls.

“Cheer up, huh. You’re right!” I drop the owl cat and clench my fist in a victory pose. “I can’t give up now! I need to relearn how to fight again! That punch felt pretty good; I just need to connect it. Let’s try it again.”

(more…)

2.7 – Step One: Create a Golem

Let me tell you kids, your dad is strong. Super strong. Nothing can beat him. Even dragons go down with a single slice of my sword. There was only one time in his life that your dad has ever had trouble, and that was when he went against the dreaded, fifty foot tall diamond iron golem. It was a fight, and I almost lost, but your dad hacked and slashed with all his might, magnificently dodging each of its striking fists that were bigger than the biggest Gowrow by only a hair. After days of fighting each other to nearly a draw, I finally got behind its massive beast of a head and chopped it right off. If I hadn’t, I’m sure that its next strike woulda killed me right then and there. And that’s the only reason I’m alive to tell the tale.

– Calib Sorenson’s bedtime story

 

Alright, time to slap my cheeks. I can do this. So what, the world is against me. That’s nothing new. It’s been like this the moment I first woke up. All that’s been added to that list is the big chance that people I know will turn against me at any given moment. Honestly, if I’m expecting it, it’s not that hard to handle. I just won’t give them the chance to cause any lasting damage with it. And judging by Nattiq’s attitude when he snapped out of it, he felt guilty. With that puppy face, I can’t really blame him for what happened. Next time it happens, though, I’m going to punch him in the face. I’ll deal with that later though, the problem of why he was possessed. I think I have an idea, but… No, let’s not deal with that right now.

Thank heavens that Oroesi is doing okay now. For a minute it was touch and go. I don’t think he would have survived if he didn’t have [thick skin]. For now, his bleeding has stopped and his wound is looking much better. I think a lot of luck comes from it being a clean slice.

I really wish he hadn’t protected me, but with out that, I think I would have died. This won’t do. I’m simply too unprotected in this state. Heck, anyone could waltz up and poke me, and I’ll shatter to pieces. Let’s fix that then. I reach out and grab some ice and knead it around with imaginary fingers.

(more…)

2.6 – The Legends of the Hynafol

What happened to the Hynafol?
Why, they disappeared.
Why did the Hynafol go?
They had something they feared.
What scared the Hynafol?
The eyes up in the sky.
What did it do to the Hynafol?
It made everyone die.

– Song the Gorsydd Ruins morgen sings

“How’s Ah’m?”

“He should be fine in a few days or so. He’s got a quick health regeneration rate. It’s the only reason he’s been alive as long as he has. Normally he’d be up and about in a few hours, but he got hit pretty bad, stabbed right through the stomach.”

“Oh. Where’s he now?”

“I put him in the room we came in, the one kinda like up here with all the pillows. Looked the comfiest.”

“Will he be safe there?”

“Should be fine for now. Nothing really lives down there. Not for miles, anyway. You were just unlucky with the naitaka. What are you going to do with him?” Nattiq nods towards Oroesi.

“Ah, he’s a guardian now, I guess. That reminds me.” I pull the owl cat from my space and put it on a pillow. “I have another.”

“Woah, is that an owl cat? How’s you do that? It popped out of nowhere.”

“You could call it sleight of hand.” I grin. Oroesi takes one look at the griffin and bares his teeth.

“Girl or boy?”

“Timp’s a girl. I also have these.” I pull out the pigmy bunnies as well.

“No really. How are you doing that? You can’t call it sleight of hand. You don’t have any hands.”

“Just something I can do, I guess. Ah, Oroesi, don’t eat the poor bunny! I only have two. At least wait until they mate or something.” I quickly make a new room below this treetop patio and pull the bunnies into it so that they’re out of Oroesi’s reach. It’s a good thing I did, ’cause Timp also looked ready to pounce. I call up some sliver fish with a pot of soil and carpet the bunnies’ floor.

“I think I’ll have to do some redecorating. My room arrangement is not the most logical at the moment,” I say, mentally dusting off my hands and settling into the pillows. I watch as Timp takes a swipe at Oroesi.

“You can move your rooms around?”

(more…)