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A note from Vincent Archer

Got busy with the family the whole extended weekend (including Remembrance Day). So this comes up a bit late.

The Gate stood up nestled between two small hills. A light-filled metal loop, like the other one. Jonas spotted it first and pointed out the new Gate to the rest of the team.

“Thought there might be others,” said Laura.

“Maybe it’s Grailburg?” asked Ira.

“Only one way to check,” said Alton, shrugging.

“Let’s see.”

 

Jonas went first, like the previous Gate. This time, it felt… different.

 

Gate to tier 1

Set your Entrance for tier 1 to Zolferras?

Yes

No

 

Jonas reflexively acknowledged the “Yes”. He then noticed that the Gate’s surrounding was a marshy landscape, not the hilly one he’d seen.

 

Location

Zone: Zolferras (tier 1)

Locale: Gate to Ovildian

Recall: Ovildian, The Plaza

Recall: available

Gates: 1/1

Tier 1: Zolferras

Fast travel: 1 charge, next in 12 days

 

As Jonas was watching, Ira came out of the Gate.

“Whoa.”

“Yes. This time, we can go across,” said Jonas.

“Not Grailburg though,” said Guss as he came out, hearing the last sentence.

“Still, it’s a new zone. Nothing you remember?”

“Nope,” confirmed Guss. He spread his hands, looking sorry.

Laura and Alton came out next to each other. Jonas watched, then started to worry.

“Where’s Jonathan?”

 

Team

 

Professions

Health

Mind

Jonas Sims

Arcanist (14)

221/221

222/222

Jonathan Gilbert (Ovildian)

Watcher (14)

208/208

184/184

Ira Heard

Defender (14)

313/313

222/222

Guss Fullmore

Mender (14)

212/212

218/218

Laura Harvey

Breaker (14)

222/222

208/208

Alton Raby

Pointer (14)

247/247

218/218

 

They all looked at the Gate. Then Jonas decided to check. It didn’t seem that Jonathan was in trouble, but…

Jonas reflexively thought “No” when prompted for setting the Gate to Ovildian, then came out in the hilly side, to see Jonathan looking anxiously at the Gate. The Watcher sighed in relief on seeing Jonas come out.

“What happened?”

“I went in, and got a similar prompt as the other Gate.”

 

Tier 1: Zolferras

Required: 1 Ovildian lair completed

Lair completion: 0/1

 

Jonas blinked, then covered his head in shame.

“Balls. I should have guessed.”

“I was dead? That’s what it meant?” asked Jonathan, mouth pinched.

“The dog died just after you. So you did not complete the lair. I should have realized that when it said you did not count for the kill.”

“So… what’s on the other side? The descriptor said someplace named Zolferras.”

“Sounds like it is. And we get a ‘gate’ for it. But it’s another tier 1. So maybe we can travel around until we find Grailburg.”

Jonas looked at the Gate. He then turned toward Jonathan to reassure him.

“Going to fetch the team. Then, we’ll see what we can do for you.”

“I’m a burden, am I?”

“No, you’re one of us. We’re all together,” said Jonas hurriedly.

 

A minute later, they were all back in Ovildian, looking slightly embarrassed. Laura came first, taking both of Jonathan’s hands in hers.

“Don’t worry. We grow so fast, we’ll have another lair done in no time.”

“Maybe even two,” added Alton.

Jonathan looked slightly awkward at the centre of attention. Jonas immediately seized the initiative.

“So, we should try to see that Milestone thing. We’re close to 14, and if it does what the descriptor seems to suggest, plus a few more levels, and we’ll be good to do that dog isle again. Or the badger cellar.”

Jonathan shrugged.

“I hope we don’t get wrecked again. I’ve got the lowest health.”

“I’m barely above you,” countered Guss.

“Yes, but I’d rather not die again. Maybe we can get brought back only once?”

Jonas interrupted the exchange.

“We won’t try to check. I’d say the dog lake again. It’s outdoor, easy to check, and we’re going to be careful.”

“Not the badger cellar? We could climb the hills to there, then head to the lake after.”

Jonas tried to check mentally the map he’d been building of Ovildian. Then he realized something.

“You know what? From here, it shouldn’t be that long to go to the lake again. It’s not that much further than Recalling to the plaza and going from there. A day and a half both times.”

They all looked at each other as Jonas waited to see their reaction.

“Let’s go!” said Ira.

He looked at Jonas who pointed toward where he estimated the lake would be.

 

 

The sinkhole in the middle of the small hills seemed to turn into a deeper tunnel.

“A new lair?”

“Probably. We’ll see when we see what’s inside.”

They barely entered the tunnel when Jonas spotted light on the wall. They looked at the strangle concretion glowing with a slightly yellowish light.

“What’s that?”

“No idea,” said Jonas.

He reached and touched the crystal. It felt slightly warmer than the wall and he could feel some strange sensation. Like small pinpricks, smaller than the needles used at the leatherworks.

“Very curious.”

“Got it!” exclaimed Guss.

“What?”

“I knew I’d seen something like it somewhere. Luther did put a small thing looking a bit like that in his device to get my potentials, except it didn’t glow.”

Jonas realized what Guss was implying and turned back toward the wall growth.

“That’s a Power Crystal?”

“It looks like it must be,” confirmed Guss.

“Never saw one before,” said Laura. “They never change them or anything on the looms in London.”

“So, do we harvest that? They must cost some.”

“We don’t have that much to transport stuff. And we can use the light for now,” said Jonas.

 

Muddy Borer × 2

Level 21 veteran

Health: 433

Mind: 181

Stamina: 159

Aether: 217

 

Ira raised his sword, pointing at the weird-looking… things in the lair. They looked like seven red-brown stretched balls glued together. But the really horrifying part was the front, where a hole opened, pinkish ringed with black teeth that looked almost human.

The two “borer” things had turned their front part toward the team. Then they started squirming, picking up speed as they barreled toward the intrusion in their lair.

Ira slashed one and kicked the other, immediately swearing.

“Bollocks. It’s disgusting.”

Muddy Borer spits; -1health/2s, -1 mind/4s, -5 AGI, -5 DEX

 

Laura looked disgusted as a bit of the greenish spit splashed on her robe.

“You’re right Ira, it is.”

One of the borers compounded with a greenish smoke pouring out of the fissures between the bulbous parts of its segmented body.

Muddy Borer’s steam; -1 mind/4s, -5 FOC, -5 PER

 

“It’s really disgusting.”

“Left one’s biting!” yelled Jonathan.

Ira kicked back the borer before the mouth could squeeze further.

They quickly dispatched the first borer, while Guss kept back Ira above 200 health. As the smoke started to dissipate, their focus and perception potentials started to climb back to normal values.

2 × Borers: 1237XP/6 contributors = 206XP. Level up.

 

“Aaaahh, yessss.”

 

Jonas Mark Sims

Health: 221/223

Mind: 198/225

Endurance: 204/205

Aether: 112/342

Effective level: 15

Level 15 Arcanist

Experience: 14/13636

Strength: 19

Dexterity: 19

Agility: 18

Constitution: 18

Stamina: 19

Wisdom: 19

Focus: 19

Presence: 18

Fortitude: 19

Intellect: 24

Defence rating: 4

5% elemental damage

Milestones: Adjustment II, Arcanist I

Skills: Flame Bolt (+), Ice Dart (+), Air Burst (+1), Earth Grasp (+), Light Blast (+)

Equipment: Rough Used Burlap Hairband, Aerial Robes, Rough Burlap Cloth Wraps, Depleted Burlap Runed Belt, Rough Used Burlap Trousers, Simple Laced Sandals, Side Pouch, Depleted Aetheric Focus

Unallocated: Aether / Offense skill rank (Arcanist Milestone 1)

 

A quick look saw half of the team looking weirdly at him. Then Jonas realized that only three of them had managed to get the level up. Laura, Guss and Jonathan were still level 14.

“Oops. Did not level?”

“I’m 3 points below,” said Laura.

“That damned cat early at the Plaza,” confirmed Guss.

Jonathan made a frown.

“And I’m further behind with that lake elder dog.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll get that quickly.”

Jonas then looked at the disappearing borer corpses.

“Well, maybe not in this lair. It’s a higher level than the lake, so there’s no sense in getting deeper. But on the way, sure. A few critters and that’s done.”

 

They turned and trudged back toward the outside light. Meanwhile, Jonas pondered the notification on skill rank. Obviously, the Milestone gave him a skill rank, similar to what the robe gave him. Which meant… which one. Pushing enemies further with Air Burst? Or probably more damage from the flame spell? In the end, he picked the latter. A skill rank in what he used most would be better.

 

Flame Bolt

Aether/Offense

Rank 1: Deals 55% of INT of fire damage to a target. Costs (0.99 Aether/damage).

 

It wasn’t that much damage yet, but since his Intelligence potential kept on climbing…

Then he realized that 24 meant he was possibly… what? Smarter than any non-professional? He did not feel any different. Not like he was some Royal Society member. Potential, rather than realized. But with the new milestones and the gear from the creatures and lairs in Ovildian, they all were above what normal people from outside the Labyrinth could achieve.

It was a strange idea for a leatherworker apprentice.

“Ira? What did you pick for your skill rank?”

“I’m still hesitating between Dodge and Flat Blade. They both look very good.”

“Go with what you use most.”

“Picked Backstab,” said Alton Raby. “All of them are useful, but I’ll take the rear and leave the sides for Laura.”

“Okay. Dodge it is,” concluded Ira.

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A note from Vincent Archer

Minor crisis, minor reward. And the first "abnormal" monster they encounter.


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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