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A note from Vincent Archer

Background and mechanics.

The group started along the brook. Jonas turned after a bit, looking back toward the marble plaza. It stood in the middle of the valley, seemingly undisturbed. For a moment, Jonas wondered how it could be clean if there was no one around. Then he filed it under some Labyrinth special thing.

Hearing Labyrinth rumours and experiencing the real thing were two entirely different things.

They moved in a file, following the valley.

Guss was the first to break the silence.

“So. If we’re going to be in the Labyrinth together for a while… Maybe we should know each other better. I am… was a store clerk in Mayfair. Before becoming Mender, that is.”

“Why was?” asked Alton.

“Because if I’m a Professional, then I won’t stay a clerk for long. Do you know why the King mandated everyone gets their letters and basic numbers?”

Jonas had a flash of inspiration.

“For the Labyrinth?”

“Yes. Cousin Luther says that about one in 300 people has enough potential for a Profession, but the King is smart. They say he used to be mad, before the Gate. I don’t know about that, but seeing how the Labyrinth shows you all those numbers and text, I think the King wants every British citizen to be ready in case.”

“Even the girls,” said Laura.

“There’s nothing wrong with female Professionals. With only 1 in 300, Britain needs everyone it can get in any Profession they can. What’s your biggest potential?” asked Guss.

“20. 20 in Strength.”

“See. You’d be probably one of the strongest girls around now. As strong as me, at least, since I’m 20 as well.”

“But that Breaker Profession doesn’t sound like…”

Jonas interrupted her.

“I don’t think the Labyrinth makes a distinction. It takes your highest potential, and that’s what you get. Besides, it’s not like we can change. Or can we? Guss?”

“No idea. Cousin Luther said you take new Professions, but I have no idea if he meant you keep the old one or not.”

Seeing Laura’s pinched face, Jonas could feel that she still wasn’t happy about the situation. Being a girl alone with five boys could already be considered borderline scandalous if she was anything but gutter trash, but the idea that she was going to break things was clearly not fitting her ideas of what a girl should be doing. He tried to change the mood.

“What about you Laura? Where are you from?”

“I live in Waterloo. I work for one of the new textile mills. The crystal-powered ones. There are a dozen girls like me, and we do all the work of adjusting the cloth.”

She smiled, a new sight.

“Those things tend to snag all the time. For all my boss says about modern technologies, it’s not perfect. So we have to stop the mill and put it all back in the proper place and restart. It’s hard work, but not like mum said it was back when she was young.”

“Modern seamstress, then?”

“We don’t do clothes. Just some fancy cloth bolts for other shops to make stuff from. It’s one of the largest ones in London. We spin cloth for nearly a fifth of London, or so says my boss.”

She suddenly realized.

“I was always fixing things and putting back machine parts in place. But now… the Labyrinth wants me to break things?”

“I think the Labyrinth is more about what you can do rather than what you did. Guss called that Potentials,” replied Jonas.

“Oh. Breaking stuff isn’t what I’d consider doing.”

Alton interrupted them and pointed forward. Drinking from the brook was another cat.

Younger River Ocelot

Level 3 minion

Health: 65

Mind: 29

Ednurance: 34

Aether: 0


“I think it’s more about breaking beasts rather than stuff,” said Ira.

“Can’t we avoid him?” asked Laura.

“The thing is, now that we all have Professions, we probably need to raise our Professional level. That’s what they all do in the Labyrinth,” said Guss.

“But I’d like to go back to London…”

“And the best way to do that is probably to grow our vital numbers. Because that one’s slightly bigger than the previous one, and I think they will keep on growing as we move out,” theorized Jonas.

Some of the boys opined while Laura remained dubious.

The cat raised his head and turned toward the group.

“And here it comes. Remember, everyone, try to hit him. Hopefully, you’ll get some skills appearing.”

As before, the cat started to lope toward Ira. There must have been something about him that made him a cat magnet.

“Lemme guess? You hate cats and that one knows it?” joked Alton.

Ira backhanded the cat with his gloved hand. The presence of the chainmail made him more confident, but the cat’s claw found purchase and he felt the small, but real bite on his hand.

 

Skill unlocked: Repel (unranked)

Repel

Personal/Defence

Rank 0: Push enemy out of efficient attack range. Cost: 1 end/inch.

 

This time, even Jonathan and Laura stepped in to pummel the cat with their own fists. But the main source of damage was still Alton and his small knife.

 

Skill unlocked: Jab (unranked)

Jab

Personal/Offence

Rank 0: Add 25% of STR or DEX to normal weapon physical damage on a front strike. Effect of armour reduced by 2%. Cost: 1 end/dmg.

 

The cat lasted less time than the previous one, thanks to the two extra combatants.

Younger River Ocelot: 108XP/6 contributors = 18XP.

They got less experience each than the previous cat, but this time, everyone had its share. Jonathan was quick to spot the fact that, somehow, there was a small stick coming from under the cat’s corpse.

 

Refurbished Breaking Hammer

Main hand

Starter equipment

Requires: none

Provides: 5 physical damage (+10% STR)

 

Jonas looked at the hammer for a few seconds, then silently handed the item to Laura. She looked at it incredulously.

“Seems to be yours. It says Breaking in the name. And you’re the one with the Breaker profession.”

For a moment, it seemed she would object. Then, she silently grasped the small weapon.

“Notice we seem to get an item every time we fight one of those cats,” said Jonathan.

“What of it,” asked Alton.

Jonas snapped his fingers.

“All of them say ‘starter equipment’. Anyone noticed that our normal clothes don’t have any Labyrinth description.”

“So?” asked Ira.

“So, the Labyrinth is trying to give us some basic Professional clothing and weapons.”

“You talk as if the Labyrinth was some kind of angel watching over us.”

“Don’t know about any angel, but… something gave us Adjustments to be able to stay in. And now, we’re getting equipment to help us.”

 

They kept on following the brook across the valley. At one point, the brook emptied into a small pond, from which an even small brook snaked away. After that, the side of the valley flattened, until they were more or less in a hilly countryside rather than a well-defined valley.

They encountered about six more of the level 2, 3 younger ocelots and even once a 5. As surmised by Jonas, each feline corpse yielded some random piece of “starter equipment”. All in all, they collected a pair of boots, a “monk” robe, a small sword, a pair of fingerless leather gloves, another piece of chainmail and a pair of cloth wraps for hands.

Each time, they tried to guess the profession that would fit the object. The obvious ones were the monk robe which went to Guss and the chainmail who was obviously for Ira. They ended up attributing the boots and gloves more or less at random. Alton removed his own shoes to put on the long boots. The sword went to Ira as well, since he was always getting attacked.

With each weapon, the fight went shorter. Laura had gained her first skills once she started to use the hammer, and for no discernible reason, Jonathan ended up getting his first skill after the fifth fight.

Skill unlocked: Notice Attack (unranked)

Notice Attack

Environment/Defence

Rank 0: Detects a non-standard attack. The targeted team member has a 5% chance of escaping its effects.

 

This one caused a lot of guessing on the part of the group members. Did that work on its own, or did the skill need something specific to determine who was in the team or not?

While Jonas was pondering the meaning of a team, he felt another prompt coming out of the Labyrinth’s helpful signs.

Request assistance from Jonathan Marc Gilbert?

Yes

No

 

Curious, Jonas selected Yes. Immediately, Jonathan’s head snapped toward him.

“What is that… invitation to help? Do you need help?”

“I was considering how you would determine what a team is for the Labyrinth… and well, the Labyrinth prompted me. I wonder…”

Jonas looked at each of the other four, triggering the same assistance prompt. Another sign appeared in his inner vision.

Team

 

Professions

Health

Mind

Jonas Sims

Arcanist (1)

182/182

183/183

Jonathan Gilbert

Watcher (1)

182/182

171/171

Ira Heard

Defender (1)

206/206

183/183

Guss Fullmore

Mender (1)

192/192

193/193

Laura Harvey

Breaker (1)

183/183

182/182

Alton Raby

Pointer (1)

193/193

192/192

 

“Well, that might simplify things. If only…”

“If only what?”

“If only I had a skill. I’m the only one among you without one now,” said Jonas dejectedly.

 

Jonathan Bennett Gilbert

Health: 182/182

Mind: 171/171

Endurance: 173/173

Aether: 186/186

Effective level: 1

Level 1 Watcher

Experience: 125/909

Strength: 18

Dexterity: 18

Agility: 19

Constitution: 18

Stamina: 17

Wisdom: 18

Focus: 19

Presence: 19

Fortitude: 17

Intellect: 18

Milestones: Adjustment II

Skills: Notice Attack (rank 0)

Equipment: Flimsy Fingerless Leathers

 

Watcher

(tier 1)

Required: 18 FOC

Provides:

+2 health/+3 endurance/+1 mind/+6 aether per level

+1 Milestone/15 levels

Watcher Milestone: +3 FOC, +2 INT, +1 WIS, +1 STA, +1 CON, 5% team defence

Skill set: Environment / Defence

 

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About the author

Vincent Archer

  • France

Bio: Vincent Archer wrote his first story around age 11. On a mechanical typewriter, with carbon paper for a mimeograph to distribute in class. His teacher knew enough to make vague encouraging noises rather than really tell him what she thought. He wrote more stories afterward, but Time has thankfully managed to erase every trace of them.

Now that his career has settled in a mix of routine and insanity and that he's figured out that herding cats would probably be easier, he's finally started to write stories again on a media rather than inside his brain. Some of those are even potentially good enough to show to other people.

Silvergates is his first attempt to finish one rather than admit defeat against the usual writer's block.

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