Original story by: Jason D'Angelo (Based off the game and game-story.)
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Work in progress... (It may never be completed, but I will always be adding to it.)
Please comment if you like it, or dislike it. I appreciate the bumps.
The complete, as complete as possible, story is now hosted on my website.http://www.liiiliiil.com
The latest posts here, will hold the newest updates, and then be moved off the forums. This intro will remain as long as they allow it to remain. (I am not sure how long it will allow me to keep editing the first post, and I don't want to waste space as the writing grows. It is more than several pages long now.)
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I have taken this journey as many others have before me. The feeling of being able to offer a small town some assistance and help save them from corruption has long faded. My eyes now squint, even at night, when I visit the town above for supplies as I progress deeper into these caves. You would not imagine that one single person could have destroyed a few thousand creatures in such a short time. It is only by harvesting the same powers that created these creatures, that I am able to do what I do. The ember's call is unavoidable, it is the only way that I can progress.
I don't know how deep I am, but it feels like miles. These caves seem to continue to infinity. Perhaps that is true, there is no end, you just keep going deeper until it consumes you, until you become one of them. With nothing to do between battles, except heal and think, things like this cross your mind a lot. Perhaps I should change my focus to my surroundings. There may be clues here that will lead me to a more reasonable or realistic solution. The obvious solution of reaching the bottom is starting to feel like a fairy-tale, contrived by the creators. I hear them laughing at me as I progress deeper, through the ember, though it continues to call me deeper to see why they are laughing.
Even my trusty pet has become a creature of habit, fighting and healing without showing any signs of surrender. Perhaps all these miners are not actually miners, just other trapped adventurers attempting to help this town too. Could the towns people be the ones who are corrupt, could they have created this monstrosity to lure innocent people to try and become heroes. They seem to be reaping the rewards as much as I am. There is surely a greater volume of reward coming from my individual actions then there are from any of the surface miners in the upper levels. No, now my mind is wandering to the ember side.
Death is taking a toll on me. Each time I get brought back to life, I feel like there is less of me. I feel myself being more cautious then when I first entered the caves, but death still seems inevitable. One of these times I will not be able to return. I wonder if my soul will be damned to the ember if I am brought back to life by one of these creatures. The thought does not comfort me, but it does not disturb me that much. If my mind becomes lost, it will not matter in the end. At least I know there will be an end for me, at the hands of the next adventurer.
I have long since defeated the Overseer and Ordrak, yet the world below is still full of life. I laugh at the thought that Ordrak convinced the Overseer that he was the source of the ember corruption. He was obviously just another result of what the ember has done to an innocent person. It seems like a giant scam. Each person that has gone deeper and failed, fallen to the ember, tells the ones above that he is the source. Perhaps there is no source, and that is the last laugh of this horribly natural phenomenon. I must suppress that thought, or my journey is in vain. (No pun intended.)
The wizard in town has me searching for various gems in the ruins, could they be part of the solution to this problem? Even stranger is the fact that I am now getting orders to kill certain high powered creatures from one of the creatures themselves. She seems to lack the impulsive desire to kill, as does her accomplice who has me looking for random lost armor and weapons. I don't understand what he is saying, but he still manages to describe what he is looking for, enough that I can retrieve it. Could there be a future of balance between both worlds if the ember corruption can be removed?
The deeper I go, the harder it gets. Ages of fallen skilled warriors and powerful corruption has filtered the best of the best in the lowest chambers. Have they just gotten stronger because they are closer to the source, or are they keeping the lesser creatures from getting to the source they protect. Perhaps they are not going deeper, but rather, they are coming up and losing power as they get further away from the source. I don't think that will ever be clear. In the end, I feel it more, the deeper I go, while I am alive. It makes me stronger, as does all my experience from each battle. Though, without the magic that the ember provides, I doubt I would have lasted half as long.
I am constantly running into fallen adventurers, but I have not seen any living adventurers since my journey to defeat the Overseer. It is obvious that others have made it as far as I have, but not much further. Every dead adventurer I find actually offers me some comfort. Knowing that others did make it this far, extending my hope. Yet, they are not as often encountered as I venture deeper, allowing some slight fear and despair to settle in my bones. Just one living, uncorrupted soul, that is what I need to see down here for that second wind of long-lasting hope. But I would not actually damn anyone to this hell, just for my own personal comfort.
I am told that others are coming to help soon. Word has gotten-out about my progress below, and given others the will to participate. When I back-tracked up a few levels, I realized the creatures have repopulated the ruins. The ember must be holding them forever damned and captive to this endless life of death. It is not hard to imagine myself falling to the same fate soon, if others do not come to help me. I never thought I could get this far alone, but I know I can get farther with help from others. I would rest and wait, but there is still an urge to push-on, to go deeper.
This morning, I think it is morning, I heard yelling from the ruins below. It was unlike the normal moans and grunts and howls that I normally hear. The yelling sounded human, as faint as it was. Could this be another future dead adventurer, or just some mind tricks from the ember. I could be going crazy, but I would never actually know if I was, unless someone told me I was actually insane. My pet would tell me if I was crazy if it could talk, but if it did talk, I would already know that I was crazy. Perhaps one of those magic fish will give my pet the power to talk. No, I don't think I want to have that conversation, I'll just keep talking to myself.
The source of the screaming, which persists in the distance, has not come to be discovered. To taunt the creatures, I have resorted to whistling in the dark, just before falling silent to the kill. They know I am coming before they hear me, so this is just for my personal entertainment. My pet uses it as a cue to heel. He is not running ahead of me anymore. He could fear them, or just fear that I may get lost. Our paths have been split a few times, and regrouping is not as easy as it once was. The paths are getting more twisted and debris is more abundant now.
We came upon an interesting location today, fresh marks from a heavy battle on the walls and floors. No dead creatures or adventurers, but a lot of blood and scratches. Nothing could be heard in the distance except the echo from my whistling. This might have added some paranoia where none was needed. My pet even seemed to hold his breath as we creeped forward in the blackness. My whistling became like sonar to me, allowing me to see like a bat. The low-glowing fungus on the walls and floors acting as a mask to outline any approaching dangers before they could be heard.
With an hour of traveling, without running into any creatures, my throat began to dry. We had stopped only for a second to quench our thirst, and that is when I realized why it was so silent. They were gone, all gone. Not one single creature was within an ear-shot of me. I had explored in the darkness, but was now curious to see what some light might reflect on this situation. A small torch was lit and placed where I stood, another held firmly in my hand as I headed to a nearby wall. Continuing around the perimeter, torches were placed to illuminate the room in great detail to my sensitive eyes.
This room was untouched, as were the halls and corridors leading in all directions. The ages have taken a toll on the structure itself, but there was not even a foot-print other than ours here. My pet lay curled up near the torch I lit first. My eyes were glued to the paintings on the walls, and my mind held in amazement at this undamaged and unpopulated wonder. The ceilings all vaulted up into an endless blackness that seemed to focus in the center of the room. The floor patterned with glossy marble, under the centuries of dust and fungus. Pillars rose around each of the eight entrances, guarding halls that looked like natural caves.
Could this be the center of the ember mines? Were there seven more areas just like the one I had taken to get here? Why were there no creatures here? Perhaps this is just a side-room, one they have not discovered yet. There was no signs of anything related to ember, except the eight natural cavern entrances to this room. Could this room itself, be the source of the embers powers? The only thing that was for certain, was that this room was cold and dry. This deserved better investigation, but with a clear head after a good nights sleep.
I unrolled a portal-scroll and called out the enchantment. The scroll burst into flames and no portal was created. Confused, but not really, I reached into my pack and removed a wizard staff that I had found in battle. My focus was the entrance where our footprints led into the room, and I cast a fire-ball with no results. This staff should have worked fine, it was a lesser staff made for a first-year alchemist. Though there was nothing here to fight, I decided to try one last time, using a summon enchantment that didn't depend on physical props to harvest powers.
Nothing worked, I almost felt vulnerable for a second, before I realized that that is one of the reasons the creatures are not here. They are all fed and driven off the power of ember, which is neutralized here. I will have to journey back a little-bit, until I find a place where I can get a portal to work. But the last place that I knew for sure, was an hour away, back where I came from. The wizard staff could be used as a test, without draining all my energy, or destroying all my remaining scrolls. So, I head off to find a safe place to make a portal to town.
This time, with a torch in hand, I head back up the corridor which led us down here. The same debris and fungus which covered the floor, in the room behind me, was all over the corridor floor and walls too. The trail of our foot-steps, which originally led down, were being doubled-over by our new trail heading back up. This entire path seemed to be a natural formation, with the exception of the ground which was nearly a prefect comfortable walking incline. No hint of mineral-ore on the walls or the ceiling above, and the natural formed floor held nothing of interest below the layers of removed grime.
Half an hour later, nearly half way back to the location of the room which apparently had fresh marks from a heavy battle on the walls and floors, I started to notice small discolorations in the grime on the floor. Almost like a bread-crumb trail, where the fungus just seemed to grow different in small patches along the center of the trail. I had not seen this on the way down, as I was traveling in the dark, expecting to run into some creatures at some point, simply guided by my echo and the soft glow of the fungus. The torch revealed much more to my light adjusted eyes as I progressed.
Nearly minutes away from the battle room that led me down this corridor in the first place, I thought I heard a faint scream in the direction I was headed. Pausing for a moment to listen more intently, nothing additional was heard. The floor fungus and debris seemed to change when I wasn't paying attention. There was less rubble and more fungus. The fungus seemed to be more spotty and over-developed in random patterns, resembling a miniature overgrown farmers field. Between the bare patches were drops of fresh blood where the fungus seemed to grow taller. This looked fresh, but perhaps it was just preserved well and actually old blood.
Finally arriving at the original battle room, I decided to inspect it with a little more care. The room entrance was obviously built by the hands of a mason, which included a large open gate that had a working lock, still holding a key. The gate and lock seemed unused, though I am sure that both of them existed for a reason. The cavern outside the entrance to this room was too large to see the entire structure, as were many of the areas down here. These caverns were like giant blisters deep within the earth, harboring natural, man-made and creature-made floors, walls and paths. There were no markings outside the entrance to the room which offered any indication of its identity or purpose within.
I closed and locked the gate, keeping us potentially safer from anything that might come from the cavern side, but not from the strange and recently untraveled room below. This room seems to have been carved out of the wall of the original cavern, with the exception of the wall harboring the gate and the corner where the corridor begins its journey down. Looking at the marks and blood again, it is not so clear if they were created in a battle. They almost seem as if they were created by something, or many things, trying to escape or enter. This reminded me of stories about vampires who turned innocent people into night-crawlers, buried alive and had to claw their way out of the graves and tombs they were trapped inside.
To be continued...