As the last 20 seconds on his timer started to count down Ren could feel his mind pulled back into his game body from the black void he was floating in, he could feel the weight of his body and the ground under him, his eyes cracked open, his vision was blurry but slowly came into focus as each second ticked down and as the last second passed the countdown window vanished.
Slowly he sat up, blinking and looking around at his surroundings but before he could take it all in several notices appeared before him.
You have fallen from a great height, your body is crippled for the next 5 in game days unless healed earlier
Movement and attack speed reduced by 30%
Stamina and hunger reduces 20% faster
Health regenerates 20% slower
New skill and title unlocked!
You fall with the best of them!
5% damage resistance to falls
Fall Resistance Level 1 (Beginner 0%)
Reduces fall damage by 5%
Reduces chance of being crippled from falls by 5%
For surviving such an epic fall your endurance as increased!
He was expecting something along the lines of what he'd received and felt that in the end the fall was almost worth it to get those extra skills that would help keep him alive longer in future. The stat gain was a very welcome extra too.
With the windows cleared he could get a look around where he was now, just a few meters from him a small river seemed to run along the centre of the ravine he was now at the bottom of, the walls gave of a light green glow which allowed him to see, though it was still quite dark. Peering over the edge of the river he could see small luminescent fish darting about in the shallow waters, they looked like the kinds of things you'd see on a deep sea documentary, it was really quiet pretty. Testing the water he found it was fresh so at least he wouldn't die of dehydration and he could probably catch the fish for food.
Standing up he headed over to the wall of the ravine and examined the glowing substance using identify on it.
A simple moss found in deep caverns where moisture is abundant
It gives off a soft luminescent glow
Curiously Ren scratched some of the moss off the wall, it retained its glow well enough and so he took out a spare potion bottle and stuffed it full of the moss to create a small glow bottle, tying a string around it he hung it around his neck and then filled two more to hang from each side of his belt at his waist and finally two more which he put into his inventory, he tried to apply some of the moss to his shield as well but he couldn't find a way to make it stick to it. He wasn't sure how much light the glow bottles would give if he moved into a darker area but any light was better than no light.
Other than the fish in the small river there didn't seem to be any other signs of life in the immediate area, he wasn't sure if that was a good or bad thing though. Looking up the ravine wall he could see up about 5 or 6 meters thanks to the glow moss on the walls but beyond that it became too dark and the moss didn't give off enough light to reach him, he knew he had no hope of being able to climb his way back up.
Moving back to the river he filled his water flask and drank his fill then ate a piece of the dried meat he'd brought with him, he didn't have a lot though as meals on the trip were provided by the cooks that came with them on the expedition, but he needed to keep his hunger full to keep his body healing. Next he opened up his friend list and tried to send a message to Clint to let him know he was alive.
Your location prevents the sending of messages
Ren let out a groan, seems he was completely cut off from the others in every way. "Nothing to do but start walking in a direction I guess..." He looked up along the two directions he had to pick from then looked at the small river. He could see the way the river flowed and decided to follow it up stream thinking it should lead him upwards at least a little.
His pace was slow to say the least, with the effects of being crippled he had to take frequent breaks to let his stamina return before it started eating into his health which he wanted to keep at its maximum in case anything happened. It seemed though that even just walking in his current state was giving his body the effect of 'training' as now and then he would get the occasional stat point gain as he pushed onwards. "Not exactly the best way to raise stats but I'll take whatever I can get right now."
Time trudged on slowly as he followed the river, he tried his hand at catching some of the luminescent fish but with his reduced speed they were just too fast so he had to continue to eat his quickly dwindling supply of dried meat.
With nothing better to do as he walked Ren set about pulling out items that he had not yet identified and proceeded to identify them and then repair and enchant the equipment pieces, his repair skill was already at intermediate so fixing up such low grade pieces of equipment didn't even give 1% towards his skill, but once he got out a fully repaired item would still sell better than something half broken and if nothing else by enchanting the items he could later use absorb enchantment to restore some of his mana in a pinch.
After several hours of walking he pulled out once more that small crown looking ring and looked it over slowly. "Well, this give this one more try shall we, Identify."
Crown Of The Beetle King
This crown once adorned the head of the king of beetles, however the king was killed and the throne stolen by the kings brother, the only witness, the kings son had his soul imprisoned within this crown.
Wearing the crown allows the barer to communicate with the soul imprisoned within
An astral projection of the beetle prince may be summoned from the crown, this projection can only be seen by the one wearing the crown as it has no physical form
Ren stared at the popup with a dumbfounded expression, he hadn't been expecting much since it was from a beetle after all, and even though it didn't really seem to be something that useful it was still a very unique item. Curiously Ren slipped the crown on his finger like a ring and tapped it a few time. "Umm... hello?"
A small voice stuttered back within Ren's mind. "Oh.. you can speak into my mind from the ring? That's a strange feeling..."
"You don't sound like my uncle, who are you? How'd you get the crown?"
"Erm.... I kind of... stepped on him, it was an accident though!"
"Yeah." Ren nodded.
"Really?" The voice was sounding almost hopeful.
"Yeah... I was just walking along and he kinda... scuttled straight under my boot."
Ren was stunned by the sudden outburst. "Wha?"
"Thank you so much for avenging my father! Please, wont you summon me from the crown so we can speak face to face?"
"Err.. sure... how do I do that?"
"Just say, Summon Teepo."
Ren quirked a brow at the name of the beetle but said nothing about it. "Ok, Summon Teepo!"
The ring glowed for a moment and a small ball of light separated from it and floated down to the ground, once it touched the ground it seemed to expand in size until it popped leaving a small almost blue ghost like image of a beetle staring up at him curiously.
Ren sat down on the ground before it and smiled. "I'm Ren by the way."
Teepo seemed to scuttle a little from side to side in some kind of show of excitement. "Nice to meet you Ren, I'm Teepo though you know that already now."
"So...umm..." Ren scratched his head idly. "Is there some way to release you from the ring... err crown? "
Teepo let out a small surprised chitter. "Y.. You would release me?"
"Of course, I hate the idea of imprisoning someone... I know what it's like to a degree..." Memories of when he'd first arrived at the hospital briefly flowed through his mind, of how he had spent months bed ridden, unable to move, or rather he was strapped down as the doctors had to keep him restrained so he didn't hurt himself as his body went through rather violent withdrawals from the drugs he never wanted in the first place.
"Thank you so much... but... my body is long gone, only my soul remains within the crown, I don't know what would happen if I was released from it, would I goto the big beetle kingdom in the sky? or would my soul simply vanish... for now... I'm scared about what will happen.. your an adventurer though right? I'll come with you! I'll be useful I promise!"
Ren blinked at the little beetles proclamation and gave a big smile. "Sure if that's what you want." Teepo nodded several times eagerly. "So what kinds of things can you do then?" Ren asked curiously.
Teepo went quiet for a moment now as he thought. "Umm.... not much actually... only the person wearing the crown can see me so I bet I could scout ahead for you in dangerous areas!"
Ren nodded, that alone could be a rather useful aid, especially in his current surroundings. "Ok, do you think you can start scouting ahead of me up the river? If you come across any monsters or people or something interesting come back and tell me right away."
Teepo seemed to give almost a small salute with one of his legs. "Yes master!" He turned and scuttled off into the distance rather fast before Ren could even ask about why he just called him master.
To Ren's surprise it didn't seem to matter how far away Teepo got he was able to still speak with Ren via the ring, after questioning him Ren learned that even Teepo wasn't sure how exactly the soul binding and astral projection worked but he said that even though his projection was off in the distance he was still aware of what was happening around Ren.
Ren had lost his sense of time while down in that dark crevice but he guessed several hours must have passed at least before Teepo called out. "Master something is coming this way.... it doesn't look friendly."
His breath caught for a moment in apprehension, this is what he was hoping would not happen but it was no surprise considering where he was, he called Teepo back and looked around for somewhere to hide, he thought about ducking into the river but he had no idea what was coming and wanted to be able to move as best he could, especially with his current cripple effect.
Teepo scuttled into view in a couple minutes and crawled his way up onto Ren's shoulder. "It's almost here master." Looking around quickly Ren had little choice but to pick an area of wall that was the least covered with the glow moss and try to hide himself in the shadows of a small alcove in the wall.
Ren's heart was pounding as he waited silently in his hiding spot, listening intently for the arrival of this unknown creature and gradually over the sound of the flowing river he could hear a strange scraping, its timing was that of footsteps as it slowly approached Ren's location. With a gulp Ren held his breath as it came into sight under the soft light of the glow moss.
The creature looked like a humanoid animal of some kind, the first thing Ren took note of was its long and sharp looking claws that looked like they could rip through solid iron armor with ease. Its short muzzle seemed to twitch and sniff the air for a moment, its head tilting left and right as it caught an unfamiliar scent and then its head turned directly to Ren causing him slap his hand over his mouth to stop from gasping in surprise. The creature though it had eyes they were a dull white, it was blind and looking above its head was its name.
Ren began to panic, it was a mole creature and used its sense of smell to guide it, and it had caught his scent. Looking to the river now Ren gulped and made a mad dash for it before the mole man got any closer, at his sudden movement though the mole man leapt at him slashing with his razor sharp claws, the tips just caching Ren in the back to make a set of three claw marks across his mid back, easily cutting through the cloth clothes he wore. A small set of red numbers floated past Ren's vision indicating he'd lost health and almost all of it at that just from the light scratch, he jumped into the river not stopping to see where the mole man was and quickly swam to the other side.
As he climbed out the other side of the small river he heard a splash behind him and turned around to see the mole man had jumped in after him but to his surprise it didn't swim, or rather it seemed it couldn't swim, its arms and legs flailed about helplessly as it tried to scramble back to the shore it fell from. Ren could only stare as he watched the mole man gradually wear itself out and then slowly sink to the bottom of the river and lifelessly drifted down stream.
With the mole man dead Ren fell onto his back and let out a sigh of relief. "That was to close..." As he laid there he ate and drank to restore his health before finally sitting back up, Teepo was sitting beside him watching worriedly.
"Master are you ok?"
"Yeah, I'll be fine I just need a few minutes to heal. By the way, why are you calling me master?" Ren looked to the little beetle curiously.
"That's what uncle had me call him all the time... and it feels right." He seemed to shrug .
"You can just call me Ren if you want." Ren smiled down at the beetle before he stood up and stretched out. "We should keep going now though. Do you mind scouting ahead again for me?" Teepo nodded and quickly scuttled off into the distance once more with Ren following along behind at his slowed pace.
As he travelled Teepo had alerted him to several more approaching mole men and each time he would slip into the river to hide, thankfully they seemed to only ever travel on the left bank of the river as well so Ren stuck to the right side.
"M..Master!" Teepo's voice sounded from the ring rather urgently.
"What's wrong Teepo?"
"I've found more master! A lot more!"
"Are they heading this way?"
"No, I think it's their village."
"Damn..." Ren instinctively looked back down the river the way he had come from, considering heading back the way he came. He'd travelled to far to just turn around though he had to try and sneak past them. "Teepo, are there any of them hanging around the river?"
"None too close to it, they seem to be gathered mostly in one spot."
"Alright, I'm going to try and sneak past using the river, keep an eye out and let me know if any start heading towards it." Ren slipped into the river once more and began to make his way up stream towards the mole man village. It didn't take long before the cliffs along the left side of the river began to move outward to open up into a large cavern area.
The area looked like it was once occupied by something other than the mole men. Old stone buildings filled the area, most were half destroyed by the flow of time while others looked like they had been pulled apart by the mole men for some reason.
Ren soon saw why as he continued to sneak along in the river, in what could only be called the centre of the old ruin was what looked like a crude temple the mole men had erected. Stones had been laid out to make a circular platform with pillars surrounding it and in the centre was what looked to be an alter of some kind. Mole men were seated all around the circle and seemed to be preying as another stood at the altar, this mole man held a staff in its clawed hands and wore some kind of bone jewellery, Ren had to guess it was a shaman of some kind.
You've discovered the source of the evil in the caves
Mole men are trying to summon a great evil to use against the races that live above
Ren blinked at the notice and let out a small gasp. "Crap.. you mean the quest objective is right in front of me and I can't do anything about it?" He knew he had no chance of being able to do anything here. Just a small scratch from one of the mole men had nearly killed him, he sure as heck wouldn't survive a small army of them. The only thing he could do now was find a way back to the others and let them know about what he'd found.
With all the mole men gathered around the alter Ren was able to slip past with ease, a few did pass by the river on their way down stream, possibly to look for the missing mole man that drowned or simply to search for food or the like. Ren was able to quickly duck under the water until they passed thankfully, though a few did pause in the area long enough to cause Ren to nearly run out of air.
Once he was past the ruined village he had Teepo keep an eye on the village for any mole men that might leave and head in his direction. Once he felt he was far enough away he had Teepo return and start scouting ahead once again. It would have been not quite an hour when Ren finally came to the end of the river, or rather the source of it.
With a sigh Ren thumped his fist lightly on the moist rock cliff that stood before him, looking down as he watched the water flow out from under it through a small underwater hole.
Clint stood at the edge of the ravine looking down into the dark depths, it had been nearly 2 full real life days now since Ren had fallen down and he'd heard nothing from him yet, he could only assume that the fall killed him and he was waiting to log back in.
With the bridge collapsed the soldiers had setup a camp and were now carving out stone from the walls in an attempt to create a new bridge. The supply wagons that were brought with them had been stripped down to use the timber for construction and anything too small for use was used for fire. They couldn't hope to rebuild the bridge that once stood there. At most they were hoping to create a pulley and tether across the two sections of ravine to then ferry the men across, one at a time if need be.
Only the captain seemed to have an actual construction skill, he'd made mention that he was applying his 'siege craft' knowledge to create the pulley. The main problem was that they needed someone on the other side to properly anchor the ropes.
To that end they had built a rather crude catapult under the captains instruction, the plan being to hurl a sizeable rock across with a rope tied to it that was heavy enough to have someone shimmy across the rope to the other side.
Turning around Clint paused as he spotted Tommy sitting on the rock that was loaded to be fired across the ravine. "Ready for takeoff captain!"
A loud rumble caused everyone to suddenly stop what they were doing and look around for the source, moments after a notice window appeared before everyone.
The sound of metal hitting rock echoed through the bottom of the ravine as Ren now hacked away at the cliff side that the river flowed from under with his pickaxe. Hoping that he might be able to break into another cavern beyond. He also hoped that the sound of his actions would not reach the mole man village. He had Teepo stay down river to warn him if any started to approach, and though Teepo had told him the sound was almost completely gone at the distance he was at, Ren had a feeling the mole men's hearing was better than most to make up for their blindness.
He had no idea if there even was another cavern beyond the wall. The water could just funnel down a series of cracks that joined up down below to flow into the river for all he knew. His digging in that case would be meaningless but he continued with his plan regardless, he wanted to at least try rather then turn around and head all the way back to where he'd landed and go the other way.
Several hours passed as he slowly dug his tunnel, creating a small tunnel that followed the river as it flowed through its rock water pipe. He knew he'd have no chance of simply diving down and swimming through the small pipe like tunnel the water flowed from through the rock. His crippled stats had greatly slowed his progress as well, normally he would have been ten meters into the cliff instead he was only just reaching five meters in.
He stopped for breaks when he needed to let his stamina recover and tried to keep his eating minimal, but it turned out unless he ate the whole piece of food it simply wouldn't add much to his hunger bar. He kept to the lesser portions though as he needed what little food he had left to last as long as it could, and he was rewarded for it.
for trying to survive on small rations of food you've unlocked a new skill
Rationing Level 1 (Beginner 0%)
You've learned to survive on smaller portions of food
Quarter and half portions of food will fill your hunger more than they used to
Higher skill levels will increase the amount of hunger filled by smaller portions
A very handy skill, he would have to train it thoroughly later. His thoughts were interrupted though as Teepo spoke to him via the ring. "Master! A group of those things is coming!" Ren cursed under his breath, put his pickaxe away, and quickly made his way out of his tunnel to slip into the river to hide.
It wasn't to long before Teepo scuttled into view and came to a stop by the bank of the river where Ren bobbed in the water, and soon after his arrival the familiar scrape of the mole mans clawed feet could be heard approaching. Ren slid down into the water till only his nose was slight above the water to let him breath, eyes peering darkness he could see movement as the mole men came into view.
It looked like the shaman himself had come for some reason along with several tough looking mole men, Ren could only silently watch as they approached the tunnel he'd dug out and sniffed around it, his smell was concentrated within the tunnel so it attracted them. Which at the same time kept Ren safe as he hid in the water. After smelling and feeling out the tunnel the shaman began to chant something, waving its staff and holding out its free hand as a ball of blue swirling energy gathered in its palm. The orb grew in size as it chanted and as the spell seemed to come to a close the orb ignited into flame which the shaman then shot into the tunnel, intent on killing Ren as they believed him to be within the tunnel due to the strong scent that came from within it.
An explosion rumbled from the tunnel and flames leapt out from the entrance causing Ren to gulp, he defiantly wouldn't have survived that if he'd been in there. The flames died down but the rumbling didn't stop, watching the tunnel Ren could see the cliff face around the tunnel he'd dug begin to crack and crumble. The spell had caused his tunnel to become unstable, but the other thing was that the river water had suddenly picked up the strength of its flow. Ren watched in horror as the cracks trailed up the cliff from his tunnel, water began spurting from the cracks like a burst pipe, and Ren could only gulp while the mole men had already turned tail and fled the area.
"Oh no...." Was all he could say as he watched a sizeable chunk of rock be shot from the cliff like a cannon by the water pressure straight towards him.