The Tower of Druaga (Game Thread)

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The sound of Prail's mighty roar echoed throughout the forest, bouncing off the trees and mountainsides. As the sound resonated, the very trees seemed to react, vibrating under the sonance as though awakened from an ancient slumber. The world itself seemed to cry out in excitement at the sound, the world rising to meet the new voice in its midst.

Slowly, the sound faded into nothing and the world returned to its hibernating state. Silence fell across the jungle, as though it had been a pleasant dream. And for a moment, Prail felt as though the world was as empty as the vast sea had been a level below. But then it came.

A single blast of noise from far away, mistakable for an echo were it not for the long time between it and Prail's first call. It rang in the ears of all who heard it, and again the trees reverberated as though through joy. Then another came, this one louder, joining the first in a long harmony. One by one, blasts rang through the forest rising unceasingly, joining a great cacophony that blared through the forest. Then, in one sudden motion, the sound stopped, disappearing into the ether. Again the forest was silent, it's serenity restored.

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After a few moments however, the world shook as though by of it's own will, and a great and terrible roar sounded throughout the jungle. And with the mighty roar came a gust of wind, coming from the direction of the largest road, so strong that the trees themselves seemed hard pressed to resist its unrelenting force. The sound was a beacon the foretold but one thing: death to its opposition. then, once more, the world became silent.

Atticus saw Prail try handing out a candle only to be left standing there awkwardly holding it out. Atticus decided to take a look at the small pillars in their areas. There were etchings of creatures that looked like Prail. This didn't really confuse Atticus, knowing that part of his family in Agris actually descended from Hurricos. Perhaps hers descended as well. Atticus suddenly thought of the person he'd seen off in the distance. Could it be?

"Something doesn't seem right here and whatever -it- is, I don't like it. Where should we go?" Claedis asked.

Atticus didn't really notice much wrong with the forest. It was nice and fertile, calm and quiet. Perfect for farming and by the looks of things the incects in the areas weren't too hostile. He'd actually have to get a hand on some to determine that, but decided that he'd simply worry about the tower off in the distance and Prail's distant cousins, by the look of things..

"I say we head for that tower." Atticus said as he pointed off in the distance. "We can follow those aqueducts there. It's the highest point in the jungle and is simply colossal. It must be important in someway."

Atticus looked over at Prail, shaking her head and putting away the candle..

"Um, If you guys aren't up for it, maybe I can scout ahead. Wanna come Prai-?" Atticus asked, but was cut off by a loud roar.

The reply, how long had it been.
Feels like lifetimes. Feel like the war was something other people had gone through before her time.
She could feel the pull. The message of death was irrelevant, these were her people and she ran to them.
Through sprain and trip and stumble none did more than slower her run temporality. She wasn't stopping. The road could have burst into flames and she'd have run herself to ash.
Thought of the other were forgotten. The candle felt inconsequential now. To be honest no one in her party really mattered in this moment.
Exhaustion lead to pain but neither were acknowledged.
Home.

Nathan twisted, poleaxe in hand to fight. The jungle was quieting down a little, but there was still something out there. That's when he started to get tense. It was a rainforest, and wasn't like temperate forest, where you can usually see for hundreds of feet in any direction. Rainforest presses in close around, and you might not see a predator until it's right on top of you. He scanned the surroundings. He found himself facing an incredible wall of vegetation: a dozen types of brilliant flowers, wet mosses sprouting from rotting wood, small vines wrapped around bigger vines wrapped around tree trunks.

And he tried to remember this level from his own studies, the intensive learning he undertook in preparation for his journey as a climber.

"Martres" he said. "The scholars don't map this level well. But here we are. We'll have to write our own books."

Zavier had been deep into his research. Calgradni. Thoughts don't just appear from thin air. They all come from somewhere, one way or another. He had already closed the compendium and opened one of his books on arcane lore. Maybe it was relevant to some spell or incantation. Next on his list was a book of languages. Perhaps there was where he heard the word. Calgradni. It had to come from somewhere. Zavier dreaded what the implications were if he couldn't find it in his books. He shuddered slightly at the thought.

He had been so wrapped up in his work that he hadn't taken much note of the others until Prail let loose some sort of great bellow. Zavier sprang up and almost threw a dagger at the sound before stopping to realize it was just Prail. The forest once more resumed its eerie stillness, and Zavier knew what the scholars meant about the Forgotten Expanse's calm. Something about this place wasn't right, though he couldn't put his finger on what, not yet. Zavier packed up his books, rejoining the group while still flipping through his book of the arcane. Things seemed fine until another roar reverberated through the forest.

Zavier turned in the direction the roar was emanating, it was suspiciously similar to the howl Prail let loose only a few moments before, and soon more answered it in turn. After the calls stopped, silence once more reigned, but Zavier knew better than to trust it. It was almost unsurprising when the final roar came, a sound far greater than the call of a few moments before, a call that threatened to destroy the entire forest in its might. Then it stopped. "That was a rather unusual welcome." Zavier said, "I'd hate to hear how they say 'Farewell.'"

"Martres, the scholars don't map this level well. But here we are. We'll write our own books."

Zavier considered Nathan for a moment. The man was either unusually dedicated or unbelievably stupid. Though Zavier had to admit, the forest was a poorly researched area, and even by the best estimates it would take them quite a while to trek through the jungle. There were worse ways to spend time. "That sounds like quite a good idea." Zavier said.

Damien took the proffered candle from Prail, only to have it almost ripped apart by her sudden mad dash into the jungle. Why Prail carried them around he had no idea, though perhaps they imparted some kind of genetic memory to whoever lit them.

The final roar tore him out of his short contemplation and he looked around, the jungle calm once more, the only echo of the creatures being the leaves falling from far above.

This place is much more dangerous than Miancala, we should be wary

Luckily he had wrapped his pack well and as such, most of the items inside had been saved from the water, but some bandages he had purchased a few levels back were ruined, he shook his head, took them out and set them down on the stone platform.

"Does anyone have any experience in terrain such as this?"

If it comes to it, i can simply ready... what was the Word again? Am I going mad? No, I can remember all the others, but what was the Word for fire? Why, of all places, am I forgetting that single Word and nothing else? This place is not right. Best that we leave quickly, but with Prail gone, do we continue on, or search for Prail? The Tenants are not clear, but I believe we will need Prail to traverse this jungle. Something about that dash reminds me of when I first received news of my brother.

As the roar faded away, Atticus stared out into the forest and back at Prail. He felt around in his bag. Yep, the two candles he'd given him were still there. One back in Minalca to sell and one at the end of their little tussle. He'd need to light one of these someday, but never found the time. But to him, it felt more like he hadn't found the right place. Why was that? Atticus was shaken out of his thought bubble by Damien's voice.

"Does anyone have any experience in terrain such as this?" Damien asked.

"And that would be where I step in. You see, so far the most I've ever really told you guys about Agris is that we farm there and that my family is skilled in machinery. However, Agris is a bit more complicated than a couple of roaming fields. You see, Agris has a number of different environments, tropical zones, grasslands, Alpine, Deciduous, and of course the very environment we're in now. I know much about the forest such as this, which plants may be poisonous or healthy, type of predators we may encounter, stuff like that. And obviously, trekking through it." Atticus said, with perhaps just a smidge of smugness in his voice.

Atticus had fond memories of spending time in the jungle with his cousins on vacation and how badly he'd wanted a tree house like the one they lived in. Then he'd almost forgotten about their nice house when he saw the tree city everyone else lived in, rope bridges going back and forth, zip lines passing into homes, pipes following along branches, and just how amazing it had seemed. And yet somehow, even in such a wonderous place, the snow still got to it. It covered each part of Agris, the same time of year. Why? Atticus had a few theories, but pulled himself back in. "Enough nostalgia, Atticus. Focus."

"I'd suggest sticking to the aqueducts, they most likely lead to water, aside from the rivers and streams sprinkled about, and perhaps to a number of buildings, most likely a city. That would be a good place to set up some of our things, get accustomed, and begin our search for the way off this level." Atticus said, as he began to walk forward.

"They appear to converge on that colossal tower. I can only suppose that it's a city center of some kind." Atticus said. But even as he uttered this, that still didn't explain why the aqueducts appeared to be running up the tower.

"Any questions?"

"Any questions?" Atticus asked after he talked about his homeland and the environments it possess. He then began to explain some theory about the aqueducts, and how it may aid in them finding an exit to the next level.

"Your right Atticus, if we follow the path that these aqueducts use, we're bound to find some form of life, then again, these aqueducts, could be the remnants of some long lost civilization. Then again, with the existence of beings that are not too dissimilar to our friend Prail, we may find some form of answer. Perhaps if we climbed to the top of this aqueduct, we could get a better lay of the land, and the scale in which we must travel."

"Your right Atticus, if we follow the path that these aqueducts use, we're bound to find some form of life, then again, these aqueducts, could be the remnants of some long lost civilization. Then again, with the existence of beings that are not too dissimilar to our friend Prail, we may find some form of answer. Perhaps if we climbed to the top of this aqueduct, we could get a better lay of the land, and the scale in which we must travel."

"Sounds perfect. I can see pretty far, mainly from surveying fields , but there's still a lot out there and obscured by the trees. Besides, I've been meaning to try out these binoculars I built. With I've done and some choppy gem fragments I picked up back in Minalca, I should be able to see for miles." Atticus said, making his way up.

"I suggest we finish this quickly. This is still a new level to us all, and if we've learned anything from our journeys it's that nothing is what it appears."

"I suggest we finish this quickly. "I suggest we finish this quickly."

"I agree with you completely, congratulations Atticus, you're with me at the front, since you're the other one with any experience in this enviornment.I'm ready when everyone else is prepared."

"We stay in pairs, within an arms length at most, shoulder to shoulder is preferable, we don't know for sure what awaits us in the jungle and I've lost a part of my Words since we came through that portal."

He walked towards where Prail had disappeared into the brush and leaned against one of the multitude of trees, waiting patiently within his armor for the rest of the group.

As he walked along the road, he couldn't help feeling... troubled. It was a new feeling for him, unrecognised and foreign. Not one of his masters seemed to have noticed him leave. "Do they not care? Am I a discarded tool?"

And then a mighty roar burst from the group. "The horned master, he spotted me!", Stonefuse lit as with a newfound reason for existance, only for it to be shattered as he turned around - the vehement call was not meant for him.

Turning back to the road, thoughts came over him. "Master Just Atticus must have a reason for not detecting my absence, but the rest are undeserving of me. If they do not wish my help, then they shall not have it. Not now, not ever." As Stonefuse pushed forth, a sound, as if an echo of Prails outcry, made its way through the jungle, followed by another one, and another one, a whole chorus replying to Prail. As he glanced towards the source of the first sound, he descried Prail, running towards it, dissappearing into the jungle.

As the chorus went silent, a sudden gust of wind blew into Stonefuse's face, an erruption of something ahead of him. He payed no heed to it as he continued the climb.

"We stay in pairs, within an arms length at most, shoulder to shoulder is preferable, we don't know for sure what awaits us in the jungle and I've lost a part of my Words since we came through that portal."

"Well, that sounds about right. Boy, if I didn't know any better I'd say we actually knew what we were doing. Alright, everybody pick a body."

Atticus said this chuckling as he remembered small family and friend excursions to field mazes when he was 6. He'd always get paired with some girl named Maye. She liked picking up worms and ants. Maye was nice. She smelled like-...why the hell am I remembering that now? Atticus thought, shaking the thought away.

They all made their way up, moving up to the view of one of the aqueducts. Atticus decided to take a look back at the group, see who was pairing up next to who so he could keep a head count, but noticed someone was missing. Atticus looked around. Was he near the portal, down by a cliff? Atticus had figured that Stonefuse was doing what he usually did, silently observing and waiting for someone to give him a command of some sort, but as Atticus scanned the group he couldn't find the golem anywhere.

"Um guys, do you notice anything missing?"

Zavier kept scanning his books, only marginally paying attention to what was happening. Calgradni. Still nothing on the word. It was becoming more and more of a concern as possibilities were closing on where he could have heard the word. The worst part of it was he could almost remember what it meant. Everything about it was there, concretely held together, but just out of reach. It was an echo of memory, and he was just out of sight as to the source. Zavier shut his book. He would have to consider something other than it being some obscure word from an anonymous text. Calgradni.

How, was the question. There was only one person who could do such a thing, that he knew of, and that man was dead. Zavier had made certain of that. Nothing good could come of this, he knew. But should he tell the others? They might think him mad, or perhaps that would play into whoever-it-was's hands. This would have to be resolved delicately.

"Um guys, do you notice anything missing?"

Zavier looked around, "Now that you mention it, we do seem to be missing the walking statue. First Prail, now Stonefuse, I don't know if this level is picking out the oddest members of our group or not." He said, "If you want my advice we should leave. Immediately. If Prail wants to stay and live with, or get killed by, whatever made that bellow, then it should and I wish it all the best. Stonefuse can look after itself too, but we need to leave."

"Now that you mention it, we do seem to be missing the walking statue." Zavier responded. "First Prail, now Stonefuse, I don't know if this level is picking out the oddest members of our group or not." "If you want my advice we should leave. Immediately. If Prail wants to stay and live with, or get killed by, whatever made that bellow, then it should and I wish it all the best. Stonefuse can look after itself too, but we need to leave."

"What do you mean by leave? The level?! We can't leave, we just got here and we actually have a goal. Stonefuse couldn't have gotten far. I'm sure he'll-...what was that about Prail?"

Atticus scanned the group and sure enough she was nowhere to be found. She must've ran off in search of that sound.

"Okay, Prail is gone too. But we're not going back! Just stick to the plan, follow the aqueducts, get to the tower, focus, find our way off the level. Prail can handle herself just fine, she's a big...thing. "Wait, does Prail even have a gender?" Atticus thought to himself.

"Yes, Stonefuse is Stonefuse. He's probably just standing somewhere waiting for something to do. "I hope the big guy is at least." Atticus thought slightly protectively. "But even with that accounted for, we CANNOT leave! We've got to get moving. This level has little to offer aside from maybe some food, but I'd rather not retrace our steps in Minalca. We locate a portal here, eventually find Prail and Stonefuse, and get on with life. Hopefully they'll run into each other." Atticus said, walking away from Zavier.

"Shall we get going?"

Prail ran through the forest, her legs yelling angrily at the exertion. She ignored them; she had a more important task at hand: finding her brethren. The sound had been hard to pin-point, but the direction was clear enough, down the twisting turning, ancient paved road.

Prail, in her hurried steps, ignored the road as it turned. For its part, the forest seemed glad to let pass. As she ran, the forest seemed to bend before her, making her path easier. Her foot steps echoed off the trees as she bolted through. After several minutes the anguish of her legs won out, and she fell into a fast jog. For several minutes more this continued. them, quiet suddenly, in the barest reaches of her hearing, she heard the snap of a branch. She turned with the speed expected of a natural born predator, and came face to face with a sight she had believed she would never see again. A lallow.

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Stonefuse followed the path toward the magical aura, its power drawing him closer and closer. He walked forward, paying no heed to any hazard that crossed his path, each step bringing him closer to the power that lay at the end of his travels. All the while, he continued to dwell upon the actions of his so called "companions", who seemed to hardly noticed his absence.

The farther he walked, the more powerful the aura seemed to grow until, finally, after several hours, he passed out of the jungle and on to a cliff overlooking the intersection of two colossal rivers. For centuries, the ground where these two rivers met, had eroded away, until now only a waterfall of immense proportions stood. Atop the torrent of water, partially hidden by the mists, sat a city of unknowable age. From this city, the cheers and cries of people could be heard, primarily from the north-east quadrant. From a fortified structure in the north-east, a bright light could be seen; a light that had the same color and luminosity as the portal from hours before. Stonefuse however found a more important sight. For from his vantage, he could see the emanations of the enchantment coalescing in a single massive temple in the south-west - the aura he had been searching for.

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Hours passed in the hot sun as the party (minus two) ventured forward, following the lines of the ruined aqueducts. The traversed mountains and forest alike, and even passed over rivers, mighty streams of water that likely post-date the gargantuan construct they followed. Aside from a few close encounters with natural hazards (a few mildly poisonous plants and a stream that was moving faster than expected), they made good time without serious injury. Finally, they came to the end of the water-work: a pristine lake high above the forest. Scattered trees lay around the lake, feeding off its waters. From the height of the mountain, much of the world below became visible. The jungle was indeed covered almost entirely with jungle, interspersed with the ruins of some previous owner. Down below, where two rivers crossed, you could make out the faint glimmer of a city, ancient but well maintained. Even from this great distance, the pale blue light of a magical portal could be seen.

You barely had time to take in these sights however, before the rustling of leaves caught your attention. From the forest behind, a creature stepped forward. For a moment, you believed it Prail, having finally caught up with you. Then another came forward. And another. And yet another. Then, with a mighty yell that too reminded you of Prail, they poured from the forest like a wave of flesh, swords and clubs in their hands, a hundred strong at least.

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She still didn't really believe it.
She felt like she was waking up, maybe it was all just a dream.
It didn't take long for the odd details to interfere though.
The colouration was off, she didn't recognise the patterns and there was no way these colours would stand which was a bit of a shame.
She had too many questions to ask, but to be honest none of them could be more important that saying...
"Hello."
She would have smelt the others but it seemed impolite.

Damien's hand instantly went to his sword the moment he saw more Prails. They rushed out of the jungle and that's when he unsheathed it, the light again noticeably lessened under the dark canopy.

He stood in front of Atticus and held the sword of black out at them as they approached,"Come no closer."

I can't take all of them alone. Caedis and Aleister had better be ready.

As the large group of beings that resembled Prail emerged from the shadowy forest, Aleister immediately drew the combined Edge of Soul blade, and de-coupled one of his katanas from it, so he could deal with multiple threats at once. He secretly began charging some magic, in event of a troublesome exit.

Aleister then went to stand along side Damien, who already had his blade out to face the enemy.

"Care for some assistance Damien?" Aleister asked with a slight chuckle.

He looked around. Behind him, the eerie silence of the jungle. "Who knows where they are now. No matter. I could try being my own master now." Before him, several bridges led to the city. Stonefuse threw one more glance at the temple before he walked towards the nearest bridge.

As he approached the city the clamor of its inhabitants grew louder and louder; it was as if he was back in Minalca. "The smell is probably similar too." It seemed strange how quiet the world seemed only minutes ago, an hour at most.

The walls of the city might've had guards, but Stonefuse had other things on his mind as he banged the city gate with all his might, trying to gain entry.

Prail's kin swarmed from the rainforest. Ramirez retreated back-to-back with his team. He saw some drawing their weapons.
"Fools! Do not move or speak!"

He turned, sweating, and searching them for a creature with any distinctive mark or decoration to indicate rank. Quickly, he gripped one hand tight around his poleaxe and raised the other palm-out. How can I draw the leader out? he thought. Nathan spoke loudly, in a voice tempered by a life of noble intrigue- A voice comforting, yet authoritative.

"If any among you would make their presence known, we will speak! We bring no evil with us!"

The more and more the group went through the forest, the more agitated she felt. Caedis didn't know what to make of it until a group of figures emerged from the bushes. Soon she was able to see that they looked almost like Prail except for the fact that they looked more hostile with every passing second. Caedis made ready with her spear and cracked her neck.

"Care for some assistance Damien?" Caedis looked and scanned the targets that ranged from a dozen to at least a hundred.

"Something tells me that they won't be as friendly as our friend Prail." Caedis said. She looked around trying to scan the enviorment then her eyes came upon the aqueducts. With these huge numbers the aqueducts just might slim them down a bit, forcing them into a bottleneck.

"Damien, how about the aqueducts? We might be able to thin their ranks and make a stand there." Caedis proposed but with every second she saw more of them emerging. It looked as if they were about to face an army of these things.

At Prails greeting, the lizard man cocked his head to the side, unsure of what he was seeing. He raised his blade into a defensive posture, his reptilian muscles tensing, before speaking up. His words were as cold, calculating, and skeptical as they were primitive. He said "Who you? Why you here?", his eyes narrowing in judgement. He sniffed the air, taking a sense of Prails presence. "Why you not gendered?" Not waiting for a response, he raised his sword. "In the thirds name you will answer me!"

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Stonefuse rasped on the large bronze door, the sound ringing through the city. As he did, the closest of the cities sounds vanished. The silence quickly spread through the city, until all was quiet. A mighty roar rang out again through the city and jungle, its voice louder enough to make even the hardest crystals and stone of Stonefuse's corporeal form vibrate. minutes passed hushed movement, hidden from view by the door way. Finally, as Stonefuse began to consider opening the gate himself, it parted. The city itself was made of what appeared to be sand stone. Signs of commerce (market stands, food shops, and and store fronts) lined the main avenue of the city, leading straight into the city, farther than the eye could see. In front of him stood a small army of scaled creatures that looked not unlike his "master" Prail. One creature, a female, stood out however. She looked unlike any of her allies, lacking horns, a spiked tail, or the small cysts that grew from the forms of the others. Her body looked more humanoid than her compatriots, but she scales covered her body. In place of legs, a long snake tail fell back behind her.

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Not waiting for a reaction, she smiled and began to speak. "What brings one such as you to my city?" As she said the words, the group of lallowens behind raised their weapons, ready to defend their queen.

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At Damien's warning, a glimmer of understanding passed through the army. They could see the magical glow from Aleiester's ancient blade and knew caution was of import. As the group raised their weapons, the creatures began to back slightly, realizing the fight would not be as easy as they had expected. They heard Nathan's words, calling for their leader. their eyes narrowed, the gleam of war returning to them as the understanding that the strange invaders were as afraid of their numbers as they were of the magic blades.

They began to move forward again, their swords and clubs at the ready, but before they could cover another ten feet, another roar sounded through the jungle, its power evident. At it's sound, the reptilian warriors set their weapons at rest, bowed their reads toward the roar, and waited. When the roar passed, their heads shot up again, but their weapons remained at rest.

A single warrior, the first they had seen, walked forward, his spear to the ground. A half dozen men flanked him their worry evident on their faces. He came within a a few paces of the group of climbers, then began carving curved, alien symbols into the ground with his spear, and beckoning the the party forward with his hands.

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As the lizard men approached, the strangeness Caedis was feeling came to a head. She could no longer feel the wrongness, she could hear it.

"Oh little Caedis, I'm surprised you are so trusting as to let these filthy lizards this close. After all, you didn't think the last reptile to get this close to you was nice, and he lost an arm for it. Don't deny it - I was there!" the voice said in a laugh, instantly recognizable by it's voice; Spiriah. Yet, for as loud as it spoke, and as distinctive its voice, no one else seemed to notice.

You know, you really shouldn't trust them. I wouldn't. After all, trust is a weakness you and I both know well!

Zavier drew his saber and dagger. A horde of beings with a striking likeness to Prail came forward from the depths of the forest. There was something feral about them, something vicious and also cunning. The eyes of a predator. Could it be...? Zavier thought."Stay away from them." Zavier cautioned, "We don't want to get into a fight, not with these things. Not if they..." He trailed off. Now wasn't the time. Later, perhaps.

"Damien, how about the aqueducts? We might be able to thin their ranks and make a stand there." Caedis said.

That was an idea. "We'll cover you, but slight change, use the aqueducts, flood their ranks, then we run." Zavier said, as quietly as he could. He didn't know if these things could understand him or not, but there was no need to take unnecessary chances.

Suddenly, they parted ranks and some sort of giant lizard appeared. It stood opposite the party and waited. Unbelievable. Perhaps they could use this turn of events to their advantage.

Thirds name? Must be something old her culture had forgotten or something new to this group hard to tell.
"I'm Prail; I come from many levels below to warn of an enemy of our people. This enemy has defeated us in my home but I can't let our people be forgotten. I come with a warning and with memories, of the dead.
As for my gender I thought I'd never see others of my kind, so I became non gendered to save myself. But if your tribe is in need I'd be willing to help in either role" She never really understood the preferences some Lallowens formed to one gender or another.
She held out a candle.
"Do you have these?
Please take me to our people. It's been years since I've seen my own."

"This is our home. If you want to remain here, you have to follow our rules." That's what the Scholars first told him when he gained understanding.

"What brings one such as you to my city?"

Stonefuse focused his gaze, it firmly attached to the "ruler" of this city. No one rules over me anymore. She differed from the rest. Missing legs, she moved using her long, spikeless tail. She was also missing crucial Lallowen features - the horns and the flyer pods. If not for the scails, she would look more humanoid than reptilian.

"That", Stonefuse said as he pointed towards the temple. "Whatever lies in there, it calls for me. Beckons for my presence. I must reach it."

As he lowered his arm, he added: "And of course. Your home. Your rules." Resentment and scepticism couldn't be noticed in his part screeching, part rumbling voice. He returned his gaze onto the temple, seemingly forgetting about the Lallowens and their queen.

The single creature stood there, his men at attention. He simply stared at the small group, as if waiting for something. Nathan had called their leader, why not say something. After a bit of internal debating, Atticus decided that he would be that something. "Most likely to to dismay of the others." Atticus thought as he walked forward, dusting himself off. Alright Atticus, think royally yet not pompously. Fierce but organized.

"Good comings, fair warrior." Atticus bowed slightly. "My companions and I seek hasteful passage through your noble land, though we seek temporary refuge, most idealy that tower." He said pointing at the spire. "And to hopefully regroup with some of our fellow wanderers. One being a female of your becoming another being a large creature who...well, it'll be pretty obvious when you see him.
Shall we make great haste and resolve these relations?" Atticus finished.

"I have no idea what I just said."

The warrior simply glared at him.

"Aaaaaaaand neither does he." Atticus thought.

Aleister watched as tried to communicate with the reptiles; and by the looks of it, things weren't going well so far. Aleister then stood next to Atticus.

"Atticus, mind if I have a word with you for a moment?" He asked, pulling on Atticus's shoulder, which dragged him back a bit. Aleister then turned both their backs towards the reptiles, and engaged in a little quiet conversation; out of earshot of the reptiles.

"Psst, Atticus. Whilst I admire your attempts at diplomacy, after all, peace between all races and that. But, I have the sneaking suspicion, that these aren't the type of beings who are all that into discussing things peacefully."

"I mean, judging by the size and strength of the one that stepped forward, it looks like they'd rather settle things through combat. Just thought I'd give you my opinion is all. Didn't want you to make some foolish mistake. And don't challenge them to a fight; there wouldn't be enough of you, or any of us for that matter to hold a decent burial."

"Please take me to our people. It's been years since I've seen my own."
The Lallow stared at Prail for a few moments, trying to decipher the more complicated vocabulary and grammar structure. After a few moments, the meaning dawned upon the creature. The Lallow before him was a traveler, a climber. It was one of the lost tribes.

"You lost tribe?!" he exclaimed, shock apparent on his face. He had never seen a lost triber before and had relegated them to myth and legend. After all, how could anyone abandon the will of Serragish the uplifter? It also meant that it had never seen the Third, never stood before her and felt her power and grace, never felt what it meant to be whole. Such a pained existence it must have felt.

Pity overcame reason, as the Lallow dropped his weapon and embraced the lonely climber, lost in the world. After several minutes of the Lallow's embrace, Lallow tears pouring from his eyes, he released Prail. "Come. Come. I take you to Third Serragish. She fix all." Speaking no more, he grabbed his sword, motioned for Prail to follow, and bolted back into the woods.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The snake-woman turned, following Stonefuses finger, to look at his target: the temple. "Whatever lies in there, it calls for me. Beckons for my presence. I must reach it." As he spoke, a murmur went the crowd of Lallowens. Some smiled, anticipating the grand event to unfold, other younger members appeared shocked, their eyes widening at the statement.

image

Upon seeing the temple, the woman's smile faded for a moment, then returned with even greater force. "So you seek my cradle then? It has been some time since one has appeared desiring my old form, and never one who was not of the uplifted. If you seek my old power, than you must prove yourself worthy."

The woman turned to the crowd of reptilians and let loose another roar, As she did, the fabric of the world quavered, as if the universe needed to bend to accommodate her will, and again the jungle jounced. At her roar, the Lallow behind her bowed, listening to the voice of their ruler. As her words faded, the Lallow readjusted themselves, and parted such that their queen and "guest" could pass.

"Follow me traveler... You never gave your name climber, and I never gave mine. Please forgive my rudeness and allow me to introduce myself: I am called..." She paused for a moment, considering her next words, before her smile widened and she finished. "Calgradni"
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

"And to hopefully regroup with some of our fellow wanderers. One being a female of your becoming another being a large creature who...well, it'll be pretty obvious when you see him.
Shall we make great haste and resolve these relations?"
a strange climber covered in tools said, before being dragged away by one of his compatriots.

"This one speaks strangely. Why does he not just say what he means" the creature thought, glaring at the unreasonable verbose climber. The climber tongue was familiar enough to the lizard man, though some of the words the strange one said were too complex for him to comprehend.

"Psst, Atticus. Whilst I admire your attempts at diplomacy, after all, peace between all races and that. But, I have the sneaking suspicion, that these aren't the type of beings who are all that into discussing things peacefully. I mean, judging by the size and strength of the one that stepped forward, it looks like they'd rather settle things through combat. Just thought I'd give you my opinion is all. Didn't want you to make some foolish mistake. And don't challenge them to a fight; there wouldn't be enough of you, or any of us for that matter to hold a decent burial."

Many of the words escaped the understanding of the lizard man. Why the warm folk always insisted on such large words always bothered him. If it was important, the words needed to be short for easy communication, yet the warm folk seemed to ignore such simple truths. From what he could make out, it seemed the warm folks wished to challenge him for leadership.

He chuckled slightly, his guards doing much the same. "Maybe the warm folk are braver than we give them credit." he said in the blasting language of the Lallow, before his laugh became full bodied. His followers laughed as well; no warm folk could fight a Lallow, much less a full procession of them.

As the laughter died down, he refocused on the cornered mammals. "Maybe I will accept their challenge" he considered, before the queen spoke again. The roar echoed forth, its will absolute. To most it seemed a display of power, an accurate enough sentiment, but to the Lallow it contained the will of their god. They bowed their heads and listened.

Her will known, the Lallow stood, ready to fight once more. The guards and leader remained still however, their task incomplete. With a hand motion he had seen the "challenging" one use, he motioned for the group to follow him. The roar had told them the will of great Calgradni - she would meet the intruders, one way or another.

Ramirez looked to his team. He was unsure about following the creatures, but after crossing the Jewel Ocean, he greatly desired a rest at what civilization these inhabitants had made. The logical course of action when dealing with an unknown entity is to lead off with a minor but benign gesture and then to tailor your responses to mirror what it's replies are: they beckoned him to follow. So he did. He shouldred his weapon and bag and prepared himself for a long march.

I hope Prail and Stonefuse are still alive. He thought. Better to keep our heads down with these people, than get them ripped off by whatever thing is making that sound.

Zavier was rapidly looking around trying to decide the best way out of the situation and rapidly measuring the necessity of his allies versus the likelihood that he would die the longer he stayed. Atticus and Aleister were quickly whispering to each other, apparently just realizing that the giant armed lizard thing stepping forward with a squadron of warriors in tow wasn't inviting them out for tea and cakes.

Ultimately, Zavier decided that there was no way out, not one that would ensure his survival, anyway. His allies were still useful and he doubted that even if he left now that he'd manage to make it to the exit portal to the next level. No, there had to be something else, some other way out of here.

However, despite coming to that decision Zavier was torn whether to tell them about the dangers he expected from these people. There was something else here, something far more powerful than a tribe of monsters waiting to hunt down any foolish climbers that dared to cross them. Zavier wanted to stay as far away from that something as he could. "Calgradni." He said aloud, almost unthinkingly.

Atticus figured he must've said something right as they followed creatures. Either that, or whatever was roaring through the jungle thought he'd said something right. Next time he'd just talk to them like he would any other person. Atticus was coming to learn that the royal stuff only worked on idiots, desperate people, or royal people who were only considered royal because they were the only royals, however the hell that made sense.

As they walked through the forest, the roaring and snarling gone, Atticus realized how quiet the forest was. So far, these creatures had been the only living beings they'd seen on the level, which slightly perplexed Atticus but he couldn't be bothered to worry about it.

As Atticus mulled on this, he noticed large pillar-like structures with foliage growing off them that looked similar to the tower he'd seen. He noticed fruit growing up and down them, and picked one. He inspected it and took a quick bite. Suddenly his mind was sent flying because of how unbelievable good it was. Sweet, fresh, and perhaps the best piece of fruit he'd ever had ingested! And yet...it felt wrong. He looked back and forth between the pillars, each bearing their own different type of fruit, space between each other perfectly. He looked up and down the foliage where the plants grew on the pillars. No insects of any kind and it looked like known of the fruits had ever been picked. Atticus looked at the pillars intently and could make out small troughs etched into them, like mini aqueducts. Something about these pillars were beginning to look strangely familiar.

"Where have I seen a design like this before..." Atticus muttered to himself.

"Calgradni." Atticus heard Zavier say aloud. Looks like he wasn't the only one with something on his mind.

"What was that Zavier."Atticus asked?

Damien sheathed his sword when he believed the Prail's were no longer hostile. He followed them down the road, but kept his shield arm ready and his hand casually placed on his sword.

"Calgradni."

What was that he said? Almost sounds like a name. But a name for what?

Prail hadn't expected that level of intimacy at all. Lallowens weren't ones for pretty much any forms of contact so the hug had come completely out of the blue, even if you'd found a mate that was what flyers were for.
When they pull away Prail inspects the face of her new friend the chlorine clouds billowing from (sniff sniff) his eyes. He must have felt the same as her considering how he moved. She was more than able to follow.
The promise of a third coming was more that she could resist, of course she was a reptile of science so she'd never really believed the stories, but there was a sense of fascination in it at least.
One of the things she passed she recognised from the history books, it was a balance been suspended over a put of citric acid. If she remembered right one person stood at each end and walk towards each other eyes closed. It was a reminder of just how competitive a race of predators were despite the best attempts of civilisation.

"So you seek my cradle then? It has been some time since one has appeared desiring my old form, and never one who was not of the uplifted. If you seek my old power, than you must prove yourself worthy."

"Follow me traveler... You never gave your name climber, and I never gave mine. Please forgive my rudeness and allow me to introduce myself: I am called..."

"Calgradni."

Stonefuse reverted his eyes to the queen. "Stonefuse, from the house of Stormbender. What is this talk of cradles, old forms, uplifted and power? I seek none of those. I seek.." Stonefuse halted for a second. What do I seek? "I seek reason."

As he started walking towards Calgradni, he added "Lead, and I shall follow. I shall not deny you your proof. The sooner we are done, the better."

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