Of Morgona Part 3: Impromptu Trade
Each floor they were offered a tidbit. The voice that blathered on was worn, sing song, yet bordered on monotone. Each raving came like verse from forgotten scripture yet was too fanciful and dark to be born of holy verse. Perhaps it was a story, Orca dared to whisper. Snippets of a whole, torn from some greater yarn the frayed remnants presented out of order for their benefit.
Yet forwarding what they'd endured to Lios had garnered them nothing. So they pressed on, unknowing, wiser heads left to dissect the fragments they unearthed.
"There's a cadence to it, it breaks the monotone, shakes it off of the… voice…" Balmung muttered. "I've had teachers with the same thing. They spoke in monotone only shaking it off when they were reading something that shook them. But they'd lectured so long, so often, it was like they'd forgotten how too… to feel what they were saying."
To Orca's curious look Balmung continued.
"There is a cadence to what you read aloud sometimes. The old epics have it more than the new ones. There's something there that takes you in, and the older stories are stuffed with it. This has something like it, but it's not quite right."
Orca nodded, looked grim serious. How much of that was due to what was happening here in the World rather than the idle concerns of the person behind the warrior? Was that squeak some rodents cry made midi file or the warning of a knob being turned? Could the thunderous clash of monster claw scraping against sword mask the approach of an enraged parent, and inevitably which was the greater foe? With such anxieties dogging his steps Balmung would never have been able to enjoy himself. How Orca did was a wonder of the World, real and otherwise. Marveling the Azure Sky simply lead them both deeper in, third floor became fourth, and the voice sounded again.
"So advised the Black:
"Speak not of loss and woe.
Abjure the calamitous chatter of disaster and death.
Such shrill wailings will break heaven's arch."
As they left that final step between third floor and fourth, so rang their omen. Dutifully Balmung wrote it down, one flashmail later and his left foot joined the right, both securely planted on the second to last floor.
"Spooky." Orca dared a whisper. "I'm gunna have nightmares for sure."
To that Balmung nodded, in agreement, to comfort, he never said. He merely nodded then tossed out a fairy orb and let the floors and its contents come into being via a map that wasn't. A map that could only be seen on the edge of sight. Studiously studying what wasn't there, the Azure Sky grimaced. Eight yellow dots speckled the angled halls and scattered rooms, eight potentially "hacked" or "altered" bits of monster data remained on this leg. Something was wrong here, and Lios' lack of response was no comfort.
"Let's go." And though he had no parents to dodge or secrets to keep the Azure Sky took his cue from his partner. He spoke in a whisper, leached of bravo, the soft sound shaking a bit around the edges.
Vomiting fire, spiting smoke, the beasts very coming stained the walls in gold and bloody hues. Gloom grey walls were painted in flamboyant hues of burning, mustard yellow carpets were put out of their misery, smoldering under the beasts' very paws. Larger than a flame head by at least four feet, the Cerberus' three heads bayed even as it charged. It was a brainless barking, monotonous, and sure. Had it not been so deep throated and rough he'd have made a comparison to say… a toy dog.
Annoying toy dogs, all bark and a maw too small to have any bite.
He felt the urge to kick, felt it, fought it, and drew his sword instead.
"Swap blades, I'll buy sometime!"
With a flutter of his wings, a half leap half charge, Balmung rushed into the fray.
"Maaaan…" Left behind, Orca whined under his breath. "I like my fire sword."
Complaint done, he half closed his eyes, skimming through menus, looking for a watery blade.
Balmung leapt blade bared, trailing torrents and leaving smoldering wounds at each pass. For his part his armor smoldered, the flesh under it was burned, and despite that he fought on. It was like running with a sunburn, each motion a stinging slap over a tender span. Smothering a gasp, he croaked, and swung. Another slash, a stinging onslaught of smoke and steam rushed against his smarting face and eyes, such were the rewards of combating fire creatures.
Thus occupied, the cheery voice of the automated trade system was most unwelcome.
"Welcome to CC Corps automated trade option, Player Character Orca would like to trade (1) Stream Sword for (1) Burning Oil."
Startled, Balmung missed with his next swing. So much so that the bright red "miss" indicator flashed into the Cerebus' eyes. Well, one set of eyes anyway. With a blink and a wince one of the three heads flinched back, the other two reared back telltale embers dribbling from their fangs
Not that he noticed, having turned to Orca, utterly shocked.
"You forgot a water sword!" Balmung roared.
Orca's shrug really said nothing at all, friend telepathy aside.
"Ding! Reminder one of three! Does PC Balmung accept this trade?"
Ignoring it for now, Balmung fumed. "I told you we were going to a fire field, Lios emailed you we were going to a fire field, how many times do we have to tell you before…"
Wings hair and cloak whipped forward, drawn to the intake of brimstone laden breathe. That snapped Balmung out of mid lecture, that and Orca's wild pointing. Staring into three reptilian faces that sported doggish ears and brainless eyes, the Azure Sky blanched. To that, it smiled, three faces, three smiles, all dripping embers.
"Reminder two of three! Does Player Balmung accept-"
"Yes!" Balmung screeched.
Smiles widened, if AI could be malicious this was a manifestation of it. Three liquid eyes (oil eyes, waiting breathlessly for the first spark, such was the nature of the liquid) locked on him, seemed to say "Don't like dogs do we?" Then, insane, inane…
"Thank you for using CC Corps automated trade-"
Fire descended, before the automated message was done, not quite before the trade finished, but well before the Azure Sky could use said Oil to buffer the damage. Red and yellow filled his vision; smoke seemed to saturate his lungs. Coughing, he soundlessly staggered back, the comforting ching of metal against stone as his boots scrapped the latter was absent. By that utter lack of sound he knew he'd been KOed, and a quick glance down confirmed it. Though he favored white he was too pale, and more than a touch translucent. Talking one step to the side so his coloring didn't match the dried mustard color of the carpet when he looked down Balmung spared a glance at Orca. Smiling wide, all but dancing, Orca held his "new" weeping sword in steady hands, and to that the Azure Sky glowered.
"You did bring a Revive along, didn't you?"
Orca's grin and wink didn't offer much comfort. Nor did the fact he gave his "new" sword a few experimental swings. Unable to do anything, save sigh, and set one transparent hand to an equally transparent head, the Azure Sky watched as the Azure Sea rushed into the fray.
He gave it a minute, either for Orca to be PKed or to slay the beast. Whichever happened it would be quick, sipping water in the Real, eyes fixed on the World, Balmung sighed. Maybe Orca had a Revive, hopefully he did, otherwise the last leg of the dungeon promised to be very boring indeed.
Subject: Investigation Results for Omega Burried Purgatorial Drift
Area notes: level eighty nine, fire element, lava based field.
To Lios, Admin. Of CC Corp
From PC and Moderator Balmung of the Azure sky,
Such was the dialogue that both Orca and I encountered. Each sounded on reaching the beginning of each floor. The effect was strictly audial and had the added effect of overlapping all background music. When one tried to speak back to the speech's originator the person delivering the dialogue responded by increasing their volume but did not deviate from their recitation. Other encountered abnormalities will be detailed in a follow up email under the same heading.
"Under the frenzy of hooves, brought low by despair,
(immersed in) such things born of false promises, morbid truths, all uncensored.
We wondered of time, how much remains?
We grieved times loss, oh what should have been!"
The second floor
"The trails and trails of despair and hope…
Both are the same, in step and cadence.
Both end when the coin of faith is spent."
The third floor:
So spoke the White: (a reflection on his/its nature)
Eyes wide ever seeing
Atrocities and miracles in equal measure
So wide, so sure, never blinking, such started the unhinging of the mind.
(they, the eyes) were replaced by mirrors of brass and gold. The tongue crude copper, to best bespeak such cruelties.
(it) Spoke tirelessly of what was sought, seen, and wrought
Till copper rusted, dripping putrid hues and rusted streams at times behest.
The fourth floor
So spoke the Black;
"Speak not of loss and woe
Abjure such calamitous chatter of disaster and death
Such shrill wailings will break heavens arch."
Though fragmented these speeches, dialogues, seemed connected by a common narrative. If the original source can be found perhaps a motive or person can be ascribed to the situation. I'll leave the final decision in your hands, if needed for fuller details please feel free to contact me by phone or flashmail. I have enclosed via an attachment my partner, Orca's, cellphone number at his consent. Please note and adhere to the times listed, as those are the only "safe" spans to contact him. His flashmail also is listed if more impersonal contact is desired.
Parenthesis are mine, fruit of Orca and my arguing as to what was being spoken about and for clarification and to allude to our conclusions.
Balmung of the Azure Sky.