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A note from Vincent Archer

Since I messed up in some stat sheets, my penance is posting this one early!

(and it's my birthday, so celebration time!)

The third flight of stairs led to a small room, with four openings. One had yet another stair going down. The other two were vaulted arches at right angles of each other.

“So we have a second floor and at least a third. Same thing? We check everything on this one?” asked Jonas.

He looked at his team, but everyone seemed to agree. So, Ira filed into one of the corridors, and they followed suit.

 

The corridor was slightly longer than the one on the previous floor, but the room it opened into was nearly identical. Just like the last time, there were two veteran badgers in the room, just slightly higher.

 

Cellar Brown Badger × 2

Level 15 veteran

Health: 366

Mind: 156

Endurance: 250

Aether: 0

 

The badgers immediately rushed them. As before, Ira planted himself in front of the critters coming, and distributed slashes and foot kicks, establishing himself as their target.

Despite the level, the badgers didn’t hit that much harder. Ira avoided one bleeding attack, endured another, while the team simply killed the closest badger, and then massacred the other.

Just as above, no loot came, except some meat for dinner.

 

They rested a bit, then entered the next corridor going deeper in the cellar. The corridor led them to a deeper room, which was empty. Jonas checked the debris accumulated to the side, worried that a badger might have burrowed under the wood and splinters to hide, but there was no one.

Ira shrugged.

“Hey. Empty is empty. But there’s still another corridor further in.”

 

 

Dwelling Brown Badger

Level 14 elite

Health: 605

Mind: 259

Endurance: 408

Aether: 39

 

Cellar Brown Badger Young

Level 16

Health: 195

Mind: 83

Endurance: 135

Aether: 0

 

“Ouch! Two of them!” yelled Ira.

Jonas thought fast. The previous elite had taken all their efforts and most of Guss healing. This one…

“Alton? You have the most health. Try to divert the young one, and we all kill it. Guss? Don’t heal him unless he's real, real low.”

The two looked at each other, then Alton stepped up and stabbed the level 16 badger, then sliced him. The outraged youngster turned at the knife-wielder and started biting. Jonathan warned just in time to avoid the bleeding attack.

Jonas used Air Burst to push the elite away. Ira followed the irate badger, while the rest of the team spread around the youngster and unloaded all the attacks they could. Guss managed to bash the young badger twice before he started to pour his Aether into healing for Ira who had been hit twice and was already bleeding.

At one point, the badger turned toward Laura, but he was nearly dead, and Alton still had almost half his health. But Ira was below 2/3 already, and his health total was bucking up and down under the assaults of the elite badger.

“Balls, the badger used his intimidation on me. Lost healing,” yelled Guss.

“Focus. Let’s make sure we kill it fast. Drop everything,” yelled back Jonas.

As Ira’s health reached under 35, Jonathan yelled about a new Bleed, and Ira managed to parry. Jonas used Air Burst immediately, which pushed the badger away, giving Guss a second chance to place a heal. The badger didn’t like that new push away and turned toward Jonas, biting and clawing.

“Don’t heal me! Push Ira back to safety!”

 

2 Brown Badgers: 1253XP/6 contributors = 209XP

Ira panted. Then, he swallowed twice.

“That was far too close,” he said.

“One more hit and you’d be done.”

“I got two lucky dodges on the last attacks. One less… and I’d be dead.”

“I almost had a heal again,” offered Guss.

Jonas shook his head.

“All the badgers on this floor are higher level than the previous. And that fight was far too dangerous. I think we’re too deep.”

He looked at the team, but no one seemed to argue the point. It was fairly obvious that they couldn’t go on like that.

“So? What do we do?” asked Guss.

“We go back out. We can’t do it like that, but… once we’ve got more levels, we can try again.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes. I mean, each level gives Ira more health and Guss more Aether for heals. And if we can get better equipment, then we’ll be better off.”

Ira turned toward the end of the room, where a long wooden box laid.

“Speaking of which.”

 

Iron Defender

Two-Handed

Quality equipment

Requires: Level 8

Provides: 12 physical damage (+12% STR), +8 defence rating, +2 STA, +29 health

 

“Well, you opened the box, you get to keep it.”

Jonas was reminded of the two-handed sword that the woman Professional had carried so casually in London. This one was very plain looking but from the descriptor… one could see what a much higher sword could be. And from Ira’s smile, he probably expected as much.

He swung the sword left and right, and almost lost it as it slipped from its grip.

“Well?”

“Feels too heavy or something. Bollocks. I think it’s harder to use since I don’t have the level.”

“Looks like you’re stuck with the small one you have for a while.”

“Well, I really wanted it!” whined Ira.

The whole team exploded in laughter at his face.

“We’ll drop it at the Plaza. Since we go back there whenever we use Recall, it’s where we’ll store stuff. Can we get that box?”

Ira tried to pull, then Laura came around and started pushing, but to no avail.

“It’s stuck. I don’t think we can’t take it.”

“Then let’s go.”

 

They finally reached the stair’s top, and the three stone circular walls. Jonas checked the sun.

“Noontime. Lunch break?”

“Sure. But let’s skip the meat. All that meat is making me feeling stuffy.”

“Fine for me.”

They leaned on one of the low walls. Laura and Guss had stocked on food and distributed a pair of apples and a sweet-tasting root that they’d spotted on the river’s bank before. It was meagre lunch, but filling enough. They ate in silence, enjoying the break.

“So. That’s what a lair is like,” commented Alton.

Jonas grimaced.

“And it’s deadly. The first floor is ok, but we’re not ready for the second floor. I shudder to think about what’s on the third. And maybe it’s not even the last.”

He looked toward Guss.

“Any cousin Luther wisdom?”

“He said his job was to go into places. He didn’t say anything about lairs, but I think that’s what he was referring to. He and his team… rotated between those places, and they had schedules.”

Laura looked incredulously at Guss.

“Schedules? Like a shop schedule or something?”

“Not exactly, I think. But he seemed to say that you had to wait until you went back to the same place. So… I think the badgers will come back.”

“And the items?”

“Probably as well.”

Jonas waved that concern away.

“We’re not going back until we can use those items. We need to get level 10 or bigger first. Then, we go back and see how we do on the second floor.”

Ira looked wistfully at his newer sword which lay on the wall side.

“Yea. I’d like to use it.”

Jonathan added, “Let’s hope we find some elites around, for more loot.”

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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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