Taking temporary refuge in the building from the omnipresent fog of Shift, the group continued to investigate its premises. Did treasure lie before them? Traps? Perhaps it was time to find out.
Iris got fed up with trying with the box and looked toward the stairs. "This isn't getting us anywhere Ithy, lets try somewhere else"
Ithelis hummed to himself. "Stairs sounds wiser. This thing looks cramped anyway.."
Phyrra began to traverse the stairs, her claymore at the ready. "Beats a death box by a long stretch anyway..."
They climbed the stairs, taking their time for caution's sake. Some seemed ready to crumble at your steps, while others seemed as sturdy as a castle's walls. Cresting to the first of two landings, they were met with a hall that went for only a few meters before the passage was collapsed. There were no other doors. Fate and Shift had left nothing for them on this floor.
"Well, I guess that's as far as we can go in this direction..." sighed Iris.
Ithelis raised a finer. "We have two choices"
Phyrra stomped around ANGRRRRY. She didn't like her time being wasted!
"I'm almost scared to hear your idea..." Iris said, eyeing him.
The halfling looked at both of them. "One , we could go back. Or two..." he brandished his finger warningly. "We clear a hole...or we could go up to the second landing I guess. Also works. Less fun but."
"Buuuuh." Phyrra headed up there, her sword dragging. Still cautious, less enthused.
Iris followed after. "Well it beats us dying from the building collapsing from one of your 'brilliant' plans!"
"Pffff." Ithelis continued on behind Phyrra as well, finger still out like a mock gun.
At the second landing, they could see that there might have once been stairs continuing further up, but to where they did not know. They were clearly gone. Instead lay a quite intact hallway, leading to a pair of doors on either side of its length. They weren't entirely sure how it could be here - the collapse below should have been from this hall. Yet nonetheless, there it was. Bright, soft covering on its floor with only a minor graying of dust lead on, and the walls were now a vibrant salmon instead of dirty gray. Even the doors looked like freshly polished wood.
"Looks like someones been paying the housekeepers..." The halfling began to continue down the hallway, towards one of the doors. His door opening wouldn't fail this time! With his hand on the handle, he tried to turn it. It rattled and resisted. "For Lords's sake." He raised his uninjured fist and began to bring it down upon it.
Iris went to the other door on that side and tried to open it, hoping for better luck than Ithelis.
While the halfling seemed continually thwarted by doors and opening them, Iris turned the handle on hers quite easily. It opened quietly to a room that may have been occupied just hours ago from the look of things. Papers lay on a desk, some signed, next to a cup of some dark drink. A pair of bookshelves lined one wall, with a completely intact version of the wall openings below behind the desk. There was clearly glass in the frame. The chair at the desk seemed to be made of smooth leather. On the other wall were a series of frames showing...nothing. The insides of the frames, contrary to the rest of the room, had their contents completely rotted.
Iris went towards the desk and took a seat on the chair. "Huh..."
Ithelis could feel the door splintering with his efforts before his fist literally sent it flying into the room, shattered. Inside was what Iris' room would look like if left untouched for a millenia - everything seemed fragile and crumbling. What was left, at any rate.
Iris' chair gave with her weight and rolled a few inches, rotating to the side. It was quite comfortable.
Ithelis examined his room, trying and mostly failing not to crumble everything he touched. Indeed, everything Ithlis touched seems to fall apart. What was wood was now little more than sturdy dust forms, giving with even his breath. Some metal objects littered the room, but they were rusted through.
A string of hushed Urgan cursing polished off the remaining wood. Backing out of the room, he made his way into Iris's. "Why'd you get nice stuff?"
"Perhaps the shift likes me more than you," answered the Bast with a grin.
Ignoring her, Ithelis examined the mug of odd dark colored liquid and smelled it. The mug smelled like good earth after a spring rain, fresh and deep.
Phyrra scuttled around, investigating all the walls and corners. "WHAT IS THIS DUMP."
Ithelis took a sip of it against his better judgement. Phyrra stared, claymore raised just in case of bad gris-gris.
The drink was room temperature and oddly bitter. It didn't taste dangerous, though. Ithelis grimaced slightly, but finished the mug anyway. He was thirsty.
"IT WAS SORT OF OKAY." Ithelis felt a sort of buzzing energy from within. It didn't seem major, but his heart was beating faster and he felt more alert.
"What if it was the fountain of youth? What if that drink turned you into a giant egg. We're not babysitting you more than we already do!" growled the small Urganess.
"Since when did I start off as an egg." Ithelis started making his way towards the doors on the other side of the hall, his pace less sluggish than earlier. The door closest to the stairs yielded little. There were several smaller desks scattered about in there, somewhat intact. Papers, though fragile, still seemed useful as scrap.
"REAL DRAGONS doooo~!"
Iris, ignoring the other two, tried her best to read some of the papers.
"Well if you're are real dragon then I dread for your race." Ithelis pressed his face up against a piece of paper, eyes narrowed. He understood buttfuck little of what the papers said. Ithelis pressed it even closer to his face, eyes almost crossed now.
Unfortunately, Iris could garner little from the pages. A few had a series of numbers on them next to words that she cannot define. About all she can read is something about the value of precious gems in various places. The others had no better luck.
"Something something... precious gems?" she muttered, looking through them.
Ithelis frowned. "What even IS this squiggly language.."
"Who knows..." Iris continued looking through the papers in an attempt to understand anything even remotely useful.
Ithelis, bored of the papers, began examining the rest of the room like a hyperactive child. Phyrra batted at the papers open-palmed, almost as if she intended to finger paint on them. The strange runes irritated her beyond belief.
Ithelis, scrounging through things, found a handful of sticks with a dark center and metal on one end. "FOUND SHIT."
Phyrra looked over. "What'd you find? CAN YOU EAT IT."
"I haven't eaten since last night so if I could, I would." He examined the sticks, curiosity piqued. One of them was sharpened at the end, exposing the center in a rounded point. He took one and made a stabbing motion in the air in front of him.
Phyrra grabbed one and awkwardly brought it over to the pile of papers, tapping it against them and observing any debris that may fall.Her actions left dark gray marks where the tip touched the papers. She was far more amused by this than she ought to be.
Noticing this, Ithelis nodded as though he hadn't completely missed what these were until now. "...Oh, it's a writing device." He bit down on one of them and spat it out, frustrated. "Bah!"
Completely enthralled, Phyrra continued to draw with the strange device. Her drawings were mostly of very crude animals and star shapes. All over the scrap papers, was there something important there? Who cared.
Bored with the frustrating devices, Ithelis barged his way into the final room. Phyrra cautiously packed up her new toys and the papers, and followed suit.
Iris set down the papers she had been looking at, frustrated at her lack of knowledge of these ancient texts. She followed behind Phyrra and talked to her. "Careful what you write on, some of these might have clues to the gems we're looking for."
"I'm writing on the back it's fiiiine. I drew a tiger eating Ithelis' face off."
Ithelis looked over at this. "Lemme see."
Phyrra held it up. The drawing was as crude as it gets. The tiger had no less than 70 teeth, and was three times the size of the tiny Ithelis stashed inside its jaws.
Ithelis frowned. "Forgot my face scales. Failed."
The last room seemed to have aged a few years. Several chairs clustered around a table. In one corner sat a metal box of white next to a long counter at waist height (FLATheight on Phyrra). Another metal box, smaller and with a transparent front, sat next to the larger one.
Ithelis then began to examine the metal box carefully. "It has...a clear front. What is this."
"It looks like...glass. But foggy?"
"What is this.."
Iris looked at the glass box herself. "Perhaps it's used to... store things and watch them?" She looked at the box more. "No, because then there'd be a way to put the stuff in it..."
Ithelis leaned down and breathed onto the glass, fogging it up. He then proceeded to draw a crude stick figure of Phyrra impaled, and snickered. Revenge.
Phyrra lifted herself up and began to pat down the box, noting that her drawing was much more accurate and pretty. Also tigers.
"Who makes a damn box and doesn't make an opening for it," whined the halfling.
Phyrra patted the box. It stubbornly refused to yield its secrets. She started to shake the box, her tail wagging in unison. SHAKKASHAKKA. Something could be heard rattling around inside.
Following suit, Ithelis began stroking the box. Tenderly.
The box seemed unimpressed by Ithelis' tender affections.
Phyrra was now visualizing the box as a piece of fruit, with delicious treats inside. She started poking it in various places, looking for a soft spot to bite. BEEP BOOP BEEP.
While she prodded it, Ithelis brought down his fist ontop of the box, angry. Ithelis' fist dented a side of the box. At length, Phyrra poked a spot that seems to give. The glass part of the box swung open, revealing a rounded disc bouncing around as it was shaken. Other than that the box lay empty.
"You broke it."
Iris shook her head at Ithelis' declaration. "Or it was, y'know... broken to begin with. This IS the Shift, after all."
"You don't know that!"
Phyrra clutched it close. "Either way IT'S MINE I OPENED THE CLAM."
"Oh shove over, lemme look," demanded Ithelis.
"Only if you promise not to break it more."
Examining it further, he found that the 'clam' was indeed, incredibly empty Sighing, he took one of the nearby chairs and straddled it backwards. "Now what?"
Iris looked down at the ground, puzzled. "Do you guys... hear something?"
Ithelis heaved himself off the chair a minute later, restless. "I didn't hear shit."
"Probably my imagination..." But Iris kept looking down regardless
On the shelves were a few containers, one of which had forks and spoons of the same material as the disc. Phyrra continued to enjoy her strange clam, oblivious.
Ithelis peered into one of the containers, unimpressed. "Utensils. I have an idea." Ithelis took the container and emptied it into the clam. "Now it holds things."
Phyrra poked at one of the other containers, her quest for clams of utmost importance. Leaving Phyrra to her container search, Ithelis examined the metal white box. Maybe it would have secrets.
The other containers had writing on them in the same language as the papers elsewhere. Mold appeared to have grown in most of them, leaving little to recover. One container's lid seemed to almost explode off when touched, leaving a cloud of dust in front of Phyrra's face.
Ithelis instinctively tried the handles on the larger box and finds that it opened without significant effort. Inside were more small containers, each filled with colored mold, and a few cans of some kind. The cans, metal, seemed sealed, though the writing on them is long gone.
Ithelis swipes up the cans, curious. Secrets...
Iris watched him with a wary eye. "Those... don't exactly look safe to consume..." Phyrra eyed the cans suspiciously, nodding in agreement.
Ithelis held up one and swiped his sword across the top. The can opened, leaving a jagged edge. Inside was some nameless food, aged but still edible. Maybe. They'd have to test that.
Storing the other cans in his travel pack, and comforted by the fact that the last thing he ate from the shift was good, he downed the contents. It was...well, it wasn't exactly bad, but it certainly wasn't good. He felt like this was best left as backup food and not a regular meal item.
Ithelis grimaced, though he's still alive. He tossed a can each to the others. "It's safe. Rations food at best though, blurgh. I need a drink."
Phyrra cautiously added it to a different part of her pack, away from her treasures, while Iris caught the can and stuck it in her bag.
The diminutive dragon girl's ears perked up, she tried to ignore it at first, but she slowly started stalking back towards the door, investigating something. Once she reached the stairs, she beckoned the other two over, her claymore leading the way. "Shhh, be quiet." Iris went over to where Phyrra was at as quietly as possible, trying to figure out what she was reacting to.
Ithelis, confused, debated for a second on eating the second can. He was starving. However he followed them, as quietly as he could muster.
Phyrra took little baby steps on the stairs, completely on edge, she didn't dare move without her claymore occupying the space in front of her first. Ithelis was still confused but shrugged.
Making her way down the stairs, Phyrra saw...the collapsed hall. Still collapsed. She could just barely make out that something was moving around behind the collapse. Phyrra scuttled closer, using her claymore more like a shield at this point.
The sound was right on the other side of the barrier. The rubble seemed to be starting to shift. She glared over, debating on whether or not she dared to make a noise to announce her presence.
Iris pulled out her bow in reaction. Whatever it was, she was prepared to shoot it. Roaring, Ithelis ignored the fancy one finger job and thrusts a glowing hand at it. Phyrra pulled out her can of terrible yams and NOTICED ITHELIS RUINING EVERYTHIIIING.
Distracted, Ith lowered his hand.
"Can first, you dolt...!" Phyrra murmured through gritted teeth. She prepared to throw the can as far as she could, hoping it cleared the rubble and got beyond.
Ithelis raised his hand back up, fangs bared.
"SAY...why don't you go over there, see whats up. I've got your back, really," she said to him.
Iris grinned at Phyrra's suggestion. "And if something comes out, I'll shoot it before you notice."
The rubble was now shaking violently, small bits and pieces starting to fall...up? The collapse seemed to be reversing itself, the ceiling above reassembling. Under their very feet the soft, rotted material seemed to regain a sense of solidity and gained color. With a deafening racket that seemed simply wrong, the collapse repaired itself under the Shift's effects. Behind them, the stairs to the second floor simply vanished.
Phyrra's eyes went wide, fighting back a strong urge to start bawling. She clutched the cursed yams close to her chest. Ithelis barged along the now cleared corridor, all 7 feet of him entirely pissed off and on edge.
Behind what used to be the rubble pile was a hulking, blue scaled monstrosity. It was obviously scenting around, trying to locate them, and now had a clear line. Tongue lolling out of the side of its razor-toothed maw, it howled and charged.
Iris pulls back her bow to fire an arrow at the beast while the halfling snarled at it, lunging with sword in one hand and shield in the other. NOW Phyrra scuttled backward, her yams long forgotten, claymore raised.
Iris fired off two arrows toward the beast in hopes of keeping it away from her comrades. Both arrows flew down the hall, narrowly missing Ithelis and the beast. The beast seemed to smell the blood on Ithelis' hand. He could see its eyes glaze over and turn red. Its howl changed pitch and it charged straight at him. Ithelis brought up his shield as the monster bumrushed him.
The blue beast, equalling Ithelis in height and beating him in girth, slammed into him like a boulder. The Urgan could feel his ribs creak under the blow, but managed to keep his feet against the larger opponent. Ithelis roared and dropped his shield, grabbing the beasts neck with two hands and trying to throttle it, hands glowing. Even his large hands barely fit around it.
Ithelis could see it struggling against his squeeze. Its eyes seemed to bulge from the pressure, but it wasn't done yet. Phyrra let out some hot blooded yelling and charged the creature full force with her claymore! Phyrra sliced the beast clean through its neck. Ithelis was left holding the head as the rest of the body slumped.
"SO....is it tasty?" the Urganess asked, cleaning off Tabitha. Phyrra poked at it, sniffing cautiously. "We...don't know it is, unfortunately. It could be poison. What a waste... Smells better than the can anyway." The meat did not smell bad. Phyrra cut a small piece off for herself, and HUFFED AND PUFFED to attempt to use her flamebreath to cook it.
Ithelis had grabbed an arm off the beast and made his way through it, pleased. He started on the next arm, humming happily to himself.
Phyrra managed to cook the meat quite thoroughly. Unfortunately, she could feel the drain lingering - Shift affecting her mana reserves, no doubt. She cautiously ate the small piece, all the while hacking up the rest for treats later! It tasted...well, it tasted like chicken, in all honesty. Not particularly fatty, very lean meat.
Ithelis' raw arms tasted significantly less pleasant and almost sour. He wasn't sure eating them raw was as good of an idea as Phyrra's.
"Well so far all we've found here is creepy buildings, food, more food, food that wants to KILL us, aaaaaaand... no crystals. I'd say we're not gonna find any at this rate," moaned Iris.
"Ehhh, we found dinner at least! ...AFTER IT'S COOKED." Phyrra glared Ithelis' way as she said this.
"Yeah, traveling with him this long you sorta expect him to... eat weird things..."
"Let's just hope his gut is as stubborn as the rest of him." Phyrra hefted all of her newfound treasures in her pack and cautiously continued past the now-gone debris pile. The ceiling began to rumble above them as she walked. One of Phyrra's feet halted in midair, rigid. "NOT ANOTHER THINGGGG."
"I hate to interrupt your eating BUT I THINK WE NEED TO GO." Iris headed toward the stairs in a hurry. Ithelis picked up his shield and placed it over him like an umbrella, booking it out of there. For good measure he latched onto the Urgan and pulled her with him, GO GO GO GO!
No sooner did they evacuate the hall than the floor collapsed. Had they stayed, they would likely have fallen with it. "EVERYTHING SUCKS," cried Phyrra. Rushing down the stairs, they heard a grinding screech as the metal box behind the door there fell. Dust flew out of the doorway when it crashed below.
Iris briefly looked down the doorway and let out a whistle before being pulled away by Ithelis. "Guess it's a good thing we weren't in there after all."
"I KNEW WE COULDN'T TRUST THAT BOX."
"Hey is that..." Iris tried her best to look down the shaft, but the speed of the Urgan carrying her made it impossible.