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A note from Vincent Archer

Got a nasty cold over the weekend (just in advance of the temperature plunging), which made me lazy and late to post this.

The sun was slowly advancing, and the afternoon was well advanced when they reached the third elite. The second one had been a brief and uneventful repetition of the first, and another disappointing piece of equipment.

 

Adjusted Leather Belt

Waist

Quality equipment

Requires: Level 8

Provides: 3 defence, AGI+1, endurance+12

 

Since nobody among the team had agility as its Professional requirement, the point of agility was wasted. It was still an improvement, and, by consensus, the belt went to Jonathan who was the only team member without a common or better piece.

That third elite hyena was on the shore itself, without any special zone. The hyena itself looked like it was sunning itself up. But the real threat seemed to be the roaming pack of hyenas. They came up to the elite, yipped, snapped back and forth some biting intimidations, and then departed back.

“We need to make sure no pack sneaks on us,” said Jonas.

“That means going around the elite and picking them on the other side,” deduced Jonathan.

Jonas punctuated the announcement with finger-pointing.

“It’s the same level as the first two, so it’s not very dangerous. But if we get more than one pack, we’ll be in trouble,” he added.

 

The team took half an hour, picking packs until it looked like there were no further hyenas. Then, they fell upon the elite.

Plains Lake Hyena: 972XP/6 contributors = 162XP

 

Sturdy Ringmail Wrapping

Waist

Common equipment

Requires: Level 8

Provides: 4 defence, STR+1

 

“Interesting mix,” commented Ira as he replaced his own belt.

“Helps with your sword,” noted Jonathan.

Jonas looked at the sword, remembering its details. He wouldn’t access the item’s descriptor unless he held it, but he had handed it to Ira back when they got it from the lair.

“He’s right, it gives you more damage with your sword.”

“At least I am getting a better defence.”

 

Jonas raised his hand, stopping the team. Up ahead was a small peninsula, leading into the lake proper. It felt like another elite area. But what had stopped him was no elite.

 

Lake Hyena Patriarch

Level 11 elder

Health: 919

Mind: 397

Endurance: 590

Aether: 115

 

“Wow,” said Ira.

“That’s a nasty dog,” added Laura.

Jonas made a face.

“We were lucky not to go down another floor in that cellar,” he said.

Alton’s head turned to look at him.

“Uh?”

“If that’s what you face toward the end of a lair, we’d been overwhelmed even more than the second elite.”

Gus raised his staff.

“But we’ve gained levels now.”

Jonathan kept his gaze locked on the patriarch hyena, before adding his own comment.

“If we take that down, then we’ll probably have one of the lairs we need doing.”

Jonas couldn’t deny that.

“So, as usual, let Ira go in first, then down that dog as fast as you can.”

 

Hyena stink affects you. -1 Mind every 3s; -1 Health every 5s.

“Pfew, this one is worse.”

The huge hyena started snapping at Ira, looking for a hold for his jaws.

Hyena tears at you. 42 damage (26+4 defence)

“This one is going to hurt a lot,” said Ira.

“Not kidding, you got so much of your health down,” added Guss, grimacing as he started to pump healing back into the Defender.

Meanwhile, the team moved to their usual positions, with Laura on the left flank of the hyena, Jonathan on the right, and Alton facing the back of the hyena. After a second Alton moved back toward Jonathan.

“Uh?”

“You’re not the one who faces his rear. The stink is even worse there,” commented Alton.

At that moment the hyena’s turned his head and snapped on Laura’s hand. She nearly dropped her hammer from the surprise.

Putrescent Bite succeeded. -3 physical stats, -3 Health/2sec.

 

Ira countered by kicking the beast, but the irate beast started snapping bites all around. Alton managed to avoid the biting, but Jonathan was also caught by surprise. The two bitten member’s health drop, already started by the stink, accelerated slightly.

“We can’t afford to let that go too much down.”

“Can’t do!” countered Guss. “I’m already at nearly half aether keeping Ira from dropping too much.”

“That dog is at half health. Keep hitting.”

 

The beast’s health kept on dropping. But he launched side bites at random intervals, and his biting did full damage, and pretty soon both Laura and Jonathan got their health down below half. Then Jonathan yelped as the dog bit him again for 45 damage, bringing his health total to 50.

“Get out!” yelled Jonas.

The hyena launched himself toward the man, and Jonas countered with an Air Burst, trying to push the hyena out of range of his powerful jaws. Ira moved, interposing himself between the patriarch and Jonathan, and kicked the beast away as well.

Guss threw healing toward the backpedalling Watcher, but at that moment, the beast charged, knocking Ira’s aside.

“Kill it! Kill it!” screamed Laura, as Jonathan turned around in panic. He then froze, looking at the hyena pack that was passing next to the peninsula exit. At that moment, the patriarch’s jaw snapped on his calf.

Lake Hyena Patriarch: 1533/5 contributors = 306XP

You have completed Ovildian Hyena Lake Lair

 

The team looked in dismay. Jonathan’s body lay spread-eagled, the patriarch’s jaw still clamped on the trousers.

“No. Noooo…” yelled Ira.

“Is he… dead?”

 

Team

 

Professions

Health

Mind

Jonas Sims

Arcanist (10)

169/200

155/210

Jonathan Gilbert

Watcher (10)

0/200

0/180

Ira Heard

Defender (10)

61/289

155/210

Guss Fullmore

Mender (10)

168/200

155/210

Laura Harvey

Breaker (10)

99/210

145/200

Alton Raby

Pointer (10)

121/235

155/210

 

“I… think,” said Jonas, looking at the zeroed indications.

He sat down, trying to move the beast away from Jonathan.

 

Jonathan Benett Gilbert

Deceased, 9 minutes, 43 seconds

Health required: 200

Yes

No

 

Jonas jerked his hand back. He then touched gingerly the corpse of his teammate, bringing the same notification back to his mind view. The duration was slowly ticking down.

“Bloody…” his words dried up.

“What?” asked Ira.

“Feel it? There’s a… status.”

Ira bent over Jonathan’s body, then swore as well.

“What’s this health required…”

Jonas immediately turned to Guss.

“Guss. Heal Alton. Fast!”

“Uh? What’s this about.”

“We need 200 health for… Jonathan. He’s the highest with enough health.”

Alton’s head whipped back and forth between Jonas and Guss, uncomprehending.

“Come here. Touch him, you’ll see.”

Alton knelt next to the body, then jerked back his hand.

“Satan’s balls! Does this mean…”

Jonas interrupted.

“Can’t be anything else. Guss? What are you waiting for!”

“Aether. I’m slowly getting it back.”

The team ignored the slowly decomposing hyena, moving Jonathan’s body aside. Their “normal” regeneration started to kick up slowly, while Guss pumped all of his Aether into frenetic heals. Finally, Alton’s health reached 211, and he placed his hand back on the body. His health instantly dropped to 11.

Sacrifice. -25% of potentials and vitals.

 

Jonathan’s screamed as he sat, bowling over Alton. He turned and heaved to the side, retching.

Lingering Death. -50% of potentials and vitals, regeneration halved.

 

Team

 

Professions

Health

Mind

Jonas Sims

Arcanist (10)

200/200

159/210

Jonathan Gilbert

Watcher (10)

1/100

1/90

Ira Heard

Defender (10)

102/289

159/210

Guss Fullmore

Mender (10)

200/200

159/210

Laura Harvey

Breaker (10)

140/210

149/200

Alton Raby

Pointer (10)

11/180

159/157

 

“What… what happened.”

The rest of the team looked at each other, unsure how to broach the subject. Then Jonas spoke.

“You died.”

“What? What do you mean… I died?”

Jonathan then contemplated his status.

“I have… lingering death?… That’s… true? I really died? How did you?”, he said, looking at Guss.

“Not me. Well, not entirely…” answered the Mender.

Alton sat next to Jonathan and grasped his shoulder.

“That’s… well, me. The Labyrinth lets us sacrifice our health to bring you back from the dead.”

He contemplated the lake.

“As long as you can, and you’re fast enough.”

 

“What did we get?” asked Jonathan after a while.

Laura turned around, searching. She spotted the usual box not far from where the patriarch hyena had prowled.

 

Aerial Robe

Torso

Exceptional equipment

Requires: Level 9

Provides: 3 defence, INT+1, health+13, +1 Air Burst rank

 

The robes were very light grey or nearly off-white, with a bare hint of trim at the end of the sleeves. Jonas took the proffered garment. Looking back at the status of the team, he sighed.

“Let’s head back to the Plaza. With those penalties, we’re done for today, I think. Let’s hope they do not last forever.”

The rest of them nodded. Then, lights swirled around the team.

Just before the recall brought him away, Jonas contemplated the deceptively quiet lake. They had nearly bitten more than they should have. As the Plaza appeared, he reflected on what could have gone wrong. If Guss had fallen… or even Ira.

If Ira had died… none of them could have brought him back. None of them had enough health.

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A note from Vincent Archer

The resurrection mechanic was hinted at by Napoleon himself during the last interlude.

You have 1min/level.


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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