The Isis Maru traveled, the navigator doing his best to figure out where the X meant them to go on the crude map. They found the mountain that the emap probably meant, but they still hadn’t found the cave entrance when it got dark, so they had to stop for the night. In the next day’s morning light, they finally spotted an entrance in the side of the mountain, just a short distance away from the edge of a forest.
“We’ll take the small boat down,” Phoenix said.
“We have a quick job to do. We’ll be back before night,” Corben said. “Take your time.”
Meadowlark, Quinn, Rysarian, and Phoenix head down in a boat, Ted staying on the boat, figuring they could handle going down to the flat ground on their own while he helped the ship. The group looks at the cave entrance and head in. The outside light lets them see inside the room. A passageway way was straight ahead of them. Carved reliefs were on the walls on either side of the entrance. The one on the left was of a hero slaying monsters. The one on the right was the same hero, but he was walking with the monsters. Underneath both panels, there was a line of ancient runes.
“Quinn?” Rysarian asked.
“It looks like it’s only one word. Determination.” Quinn replied. There wasn’t anything in the room.
“Was there anything else on the map?” Rysarian asked.
“No, we barely found our way here,” Phoenix said. “We better get going,” she added, walking down the corridor. The others followed. It was a long corridor. The light behind them having more and more difficulty following them into the tunnel and it was getting more difficult to see. The lighting changed, becoming a low intensity blueish green glow. At the very end, there’s another doorway leading to a room that had mushrooms and goo, both glowing with the blue light.
“We just need some slime samples?” Rysarian asked.
“From the queen slime,” Phoenix answered.
“Could this be the queen slime?” Rysarian asked, going up to the wall.
“I would doubt it,” Quinn said. “If it was that easy to get to, we wouldn’t be here.”
“Hey, do you know where the queen is?” Rysarian asked the wall. The other three looked at each other in confusion. Phoenix started to worry what would happen to her if it turned out she was blood bonded to a crazy person. Rysarian looks around the room, the only one who could see clearly in the dimly lit room. There was another passageway, across from where they had entered, that had two armored looking slimes in the doorway. Rysarian walks over to them. “Hello little slimes,” Rysarian said. The two slimes look up at him. “Can we go past?”
The other three walk forward, seeing that Rysarian actually was talking to real things this time. As they approached, an echoing voice, reminiscent of the voice from the wind temple since it was more in their minds than from the air. It was a soft female voice.
“Ah, it looks like there are more adventurers that have come to seek what treasure we have. Have you come to slaughter my children?”
“Who are your children?” Rysarian asked.
“I am the queen of all slimes. They are all my children.”
“Then no, we don’t really want to kill things here,” Rysarian said.
“Then what are you here for?” The Queen asked.
“We were sent here,” Phoenix spoke up. “We were asked if we could gather samples from you, the queen. The man who sent us is very interested in studying you.”
“How can I believe that you are being honest? You might be telling me this just to hurt my children.”
“We could leave our weapons here, would that work?” Rysarian asked. “Then you wouldn’t have to worry about it.”
“That would be some show of trust,” the queen agreed.
“Could you leave a slime to guard it?” Rysarian asked.
“Perhaps one, but I cannot ensure your weapons safety,” the queen replied.
“We could leave Meadowlark’s cat,” Phoenix spoke up.
“Yeah, that wouldn’t be a problem,” Meadowlark agreed. The group walked back to the first room and disarmed themselves. Rysarian putting his collection of knives off on their own. Meadowlark’s sword sat beside Quinn’s two staffs and his pistol, and Phoenix setting her hammer and javelins against the wall. One of the metal slimes had followed them and Meadowlark’s cat stared up at it, it’s large eyes unblinking as the slime sat unmoving by the pile of weapons.
The four of them head back down the long hallway to the room with the glowing mushrooms. The other slime stepped out of the way for them to pass and Rysarian and Quinn take the lead. Phoenix feels nervous without her hammer.
The next room was larger, with purple, orange, and pink slimes meandering about. There were grates on the floor that Quinn walked over to look at. “It seems they use this for faster travel,” he said, pointing at traces of slime on the bars. Rysarian looked at the ceiling.
“Just making sure that they won’t fall on us,” Rysarian said before turning to look at the colorful slimes. They seemed to be smiling up. “Hello little slimes.”
“With you being adventurers,” the queen spoke again, “perhaps you could help me and my children with something.”
“What is it that you want us to do for you?” Rysarian asked, petting one of the pink slimes that was circling around his legs. It was about the size of a large dog.
“Well,” she sounded hesitant, but then she opened up the the group. “There are a few issues that we are having. There are a lot of my new children, but we are low on food for them, and as they grow, we’ll be more limited on space.” She explained. “There is a room ahead of where you are that has a puzzle that I cannot figure out. I believe that it could open up and give us more space. If you were to open it up, it would be helpful.”
“How do you normally get food?” Phoenix asked.
“The nearby forest is where we forage. But the last of my children that we sent out never returned. I am unwilling to risk sending more out unless it’s necessary.”
“What do you eat?” Rysarian asked.
“Fruit, meat, most anything edible, though there are some things that do not agree with us.”
“We have trail rations, would those work?” Rysarian asks. “We have dried fruit, jerky, and nuts.”
“That food would be acceptable for us, but I do not want to take your resources. We would need much more than you would have, and it does not help us for very long.” The queen said.
“We can go look and see if we can find your hunting party,” Phoenix offered.
“Thank you,” the queen said.
“Could you send a couple of your children with us so that we can know where they normally go to forage?” Rysarian asked. The pink one in front of him bounces itself up and down, as if saying it would go with him.
“There are some that would be glad to help,” the queen said.
“Can we take our weapons with us to go find food?” Rysarian asked.
“That would be fine. I am entrusting you with the safety of my children.”
“We will protect them,” Rysarian said. The group head back down the corridor, two pink ones, one of them being Rysarian’s new fan, followed behind them. They were faster than the armored ones. The adventurers collect their individual weapons and head back outside towards the forest. The pink slimes take the lead to the edge of the forest, but then motion for the adventurers to go first. Phoenix takes the lead, feeling better now that she has her hammer again. She looks around for tracks, or any signs of the missing slimes. She notices a path where the grass seemed to be pressed down and a little thinner than the grass around it. It seemed to fit what would be expected of large rotund shapes rolling over the same section repeatedly.
Phoenix walks along the trail, the others following behind her. The sun was out, and the trees weren’t super thick, so the trail was well lit as they walked through the forest. They came to a small clearing that had patches of bushes on the far end. Phoenix looked around and saw two other trails going out from the clearing, as if the three trails formed a triangle. She went to go look down the trails to see if there were any signs of recent use.
There are less used trails at the top of the clearing leading to trees with strange fruit none of them had seen before, and the bushes had berries that Rysarian went to look at at the top of the clearing. He couldn’t identify them, but he starts to gather them up. The two pink slimes follow him over and start gathering the berries as well. Meadowlark stayed near the bottom of the clearing, keeping watch and looking up at the trees. She notices four darker shadows around the clearing. A breeze blew the leaves, causing shafts of light to break through the leaves. The black shapes shimmered with oily colors. The four shapes moved into the clearing, showing themselves as overgrown slimes, almost as tall as Phoenix, but twice as fat.
“It looks like we found the hunting party,” Meadowlark said, pulling out her sword and facing the one closest to her. Another was close to Phoenix, and the two others came in on the other corners of the clearing.
“Do you want some berries?” Rysarian asked, holding out a handful of them. The one in the bottom left of the clearing rushed over, squishing around Rysarian’s arm. His arm started to burn as the acidic inside of the slime ate at him. He dropped the rest of the berries he had been carrying, hoping that the slime would go for that, but it doesn’t even take notice. The two pink slimes huddle together, quivering.
“These slimes seem to have some dark magic on them,” Quinn said, his eyes sharpening behind his glasses. “They don’t seem like they are the same as the queen’s children.”
“So I can smash them?” Phoenix asked hopefully.
“I don’t think the queen would get mad. We’re protecting the two slimes she went with us,” Quinn replied.
“That’s good enough for me,” Phoenix said, pulling out her hammer and taking a swing at the slime beside her, and then backing up a space. She’d rather not get eaten like Rysarian was. The slime follows her, slamming into her. A slime by Quinn attempted to slam into him, but missed. The third one approached the two pink slimes, slamming into one of them. The one eating Rysarian bit down on his arm again. Rysarian pulled his arm out of the slime’s mouth, stepping away at the same time to throw a dagger at the slime that was approaching the pink slimes. His arm is still tingling with pain and he misses. Quinn steps up to the same one, sending a shock at it. It gets confused. One pink slime, the one that had been hurt, curls up around Rysarian’s feet. The other one runs away to the edge of the clearing. The slime that Quinn attacked attempts to hit the little slime as it runs away, but hurts itself in it’s confusion.
The two little slimes each spit slime pellets at the big confused slime. Wherever the pellets hit, the slime starts to bubble and ooze acidic slime.
Phoenix swings her hammer at the slime by her again, causing a large bubble to appear in the slime that rises to the top and pops out like an acidic volcano, the acid oozing from the top of it. The slimes each attempt to slam into the adventurers they’re closest to, but they all miss their attacks. Quinn uses Arcana to try understand the magic that’s been used on the slimes, and to find out the source of it.
“These are too corrupt with dark magic,” Quinn tells them. “If they ever really were the hunting party, they’re basically zombies.”
“Good to know,” Meadowlark said as she swung her sword into the zombie slime in front of her. It also spits acid out of the wound, this time the acid splashes onto Meadowlark.
Rysarian attacks the one that bit him, leaving the other one to Quinn, and motions for the little slime at his feet to run away to where the other pink slime sat safely away from the large slimes. It nods and rolls over there, but the large slime that had bit Rysarian attacks it and the poor little slime barely makes it to the other one. The other one spits at the large slime in retaliation. Phoenix sees what happens, attempts to hit the slime by her again, but only gets a glancing blow as she shift towards where the rest of them were. The slimes all try a slam attack, but they all miss again.
Rysarian shifts away from the slime, the opposite direction of where the little slimes sat. He tries to swing at the slime, but he misses and the slime sucks onto the sword and rips it from his hand, absorbing the weapon into it’s body. Quinn attacks the one by him, sending another shock of lightning that waves through the slime. Internal bubbles follow the wave, popping along the surface of the slime and spewing out acid, though it all misses Quinn. The slime continues to bubble until it’s only a smear of goo on the ground.
Meadowlark sends healing energy to the hurt little slime. The slime feels much better and it spits at the one that attacked it, but it misses. The other one spits at the one beside Meadowlark and it bubbles like the one that Quinn had destroyed. This time, the spewing acid covers Meadowlark with another wave of acid. “Why is it always me?” She asked, trying to fling the acidic goo off of her.
Phoenix lands a solid hit on the slime by her, and it implodes in acid, but not a single drop touches her. “I don’t know,” Phoenix replied to Meadowlark.
Rysarian has pulls out his short sword and swings at the last slime, it bubbles and spews acid angrily out it’s side. Quinn sends a wave of electricity at it, as well. Finally, Meadowlark sends two arrows at it and it explodes, the acid covering Rysarian. Rysarian wipes the acid off of himself. “It’s not just you,” he told Meadowlark, squeegeeing the acid out of his long hair. He picked up his sword that the exploding slime left behind, swinging it around to get the slime off of it before he sheathed it. He then turns to start picking up the berries he had dropped earlier.
Quinn pinpoints the source of the dark magic finally and goes to the center of the clearing and began digging in the dirt. The others rested, Meadowlark and Rysarian trying to get every last trace of acid off of themselves. “Ah-ha!” Quinn said, pulling out a decent sized square stone. There were runes carved on it that were glowing a dark, smoky purple.
“Could we smash that?” Rysarian asked.
“I don’t want to smash that!” Phoenix said.
“It’s okay, that won’t be necessary,” Quinn said, casting a spell that made the stone disintegrate. “But I would advise you not to eat those berries for a while,” he added, dusting his hands off.
Rysarian dumped out the berries he had picked up again.
“So was it because they ate the berries?” Meadowlark asked, stepping around the oily patches of slime.
“That was probably part of it,” Quinn agreed. “And the proximity they would have been with the stone. But we should head back and let the queen know what happened.”
“But we don’t have any food for them,” Rysarian said.
“In a couple days, the bushes should be back to normal,” Quinn said. “We’ll let them know that they won’t have anything to worry about coming out here anymore.”
The group headed back, the two pink slimes circling around them all happily. Phoenix does her best not to step on them. Rysarian pats them on the head as the roll past him. Meadowlark avoided touching them. She’d had enough with being covered in goo. Quinn watched them with interest. When they get back to the ruins, they continue on, guessing it would be okay for them to carry their weapons, as none of the slimes were getting in their way and the queen didn’t say anything to them. They move to the end of the room with grates, finding two passageways. The one ahead had armored slimes standing beside it, seeming like a major passageway. But there was a smaller one to the right that Phoenix wanted to check out. She steps down the short passageway, a strong smell coming from ahead. She finds herself in a small square room with a large hole in the middle. Large brown slimes roll around the edge of the hole. Phoenix decides it’s not worth being in much longer and she heads back out.
“What was in there?” Rysarian asked.
“Waste,” Phoenix replied, trying to get the smell out of her nose.
Quinn heads up the main passageway to the next room. Again, two armored slimes stood on either side of the passageway to a set of stairs. On the wall to the right, there was a large dial with three rings. A button was in the middle and a triangle was pointing down at the top of the dial. Each ring had four pictures on it. The largest one images symbolizing fire, wind water, and earth. The middle ring had a sword, a hammer, a bow, and a spear. The inner ring had a sun, a star, a moon, and nothing, meaning darkness.
“Quinn?” Rysarian asked.
“It looks like a locking set puzzle. You’ll have to turn each of the rings to line up under the arrow before it will unlock.
“Maybe there’s instructions in the next room,” Phoenix said, heading towards the stairs.
“Wait, there’s an inscription up on the wall over here,” Rysarian said, pointing at the wall. “It says ‘strike through the air, the shaft of morning light.’”
Phoenix went back to the dial, looking at it with Rysarian. “Shaft? Morning light?” She repeated. “Probably spear and the sun.”
“Yeah, and strike through the air would be wind,” Rysarian added. Phoenix turns the rings so that they line up under the arrow and then press the button. Gears are heard and the wall slowly opens to reveal another room. This one was as big as the room with grates, and there were three levers on the back of the room with two statues of armor holding swords on either side in the corners.
“We probably have to pull the levers down,” Rysarian said, but he doesn’t want to get too close. “How about we tie a rope around one and then pull it from way over here? We have fifty foot rope. We could even tie two ropes together. We don’t even have to be in the same room as the levers.”
Phoenix ignores his planning and walks up to the levers and pulls the middle one. Nothing happens. Rysarian frowns at her, but he starts looking for hidden doors in the walls. Phoenix looks at the levers and pulls the lever on the right. There’s a click and both of the switches flip back up. The two statues raise their swords and swing, the one on the right hitting Phoenix.
“It looks like we have to pull them down in the right order,” Meadowlark said.”Let’s try the one in the middle and then the one on the left.”
“Wait!” Rysarian says, going over and trying to pull the sword from the grasp of the statue. It didn’t even budge. “Oh, nevermind,” he said, backing up out of the way again.
“Okay, let’s try this,” Phoenix said, pulling the middle lever down. Meadowlark pulls the lever on the left. There was another click, the switches went back up and the armor swing their swords again, one hitting Meadowlark, the other hitting Phoenix. Phoenix steps back, annoyed.
“There might not be a reaction no matter which lever we pull down first,” Phoenix said.
“That’s dozens of different combinations,” Meadowlark said. She pulled her sword at attacked the set of armor on the left, but barely left a dent in the armor. She frowned and put her sword back. “Okay, let’s try this again,” she said, pulling down the lever on the left. There was a clicking sound, but the armor stood still. Phoenix walked further away, almost going into the other room. Rysarian was still looking around at the walls, trying to find where a door might open. Meadowlark went to the lever on the right and pulled that one down. A low rumbling started, the ground shaking ever so slightly. She went to the middle lever and tried to pull that down, but it didn’t budge. The rumbling grew and then stopped. Meadowlark looked around, trying to find where the rumbling was coming from. She turned around to see an opening in the other room. Rysarian was already poking his head in it.
“Oh, yeah, there’s a doorway here,” he said, looking back at the group. Phoenix is the next one to get there and she looks in.
“Quinn, look! Books!” Phoenix called back. Quinn was in the middle of the small room before anyone could blink. The small room was lined with shelves crammed with books. Quinn is excitedly looking around at all of them, piles of books and papers on the floor, too. Phoenix goes in and looked around at the shelves. Rysarian looks around on the ground. Quinn tossed a satchel out of his way to get to more books. Rysarian snatches it up, finding about 100 gold pieces in it. Meadowlark walks in as well, also finding a leather pouch. She looks inside, finding a silver powder in it that had the feeling of magic in it.
“Hey, Quinn, I found this stuff, what is it?” Meadowlark asked. Quinn was sticking a book in his bag, but he looked over.
“Oh! That’s residium. That much is probably worth around 500 gold pieces,” Quinn replied, poking the silvery powder. Rysarian was standing next to them as soon as Quinn had said ‘gold’.
“What is it good for?” Rysarian asked.
“Rituals, normally, it’s used for different components of magical rites,” Quinn explained. “It’s found when you disenchant something. The magic from the item turns into residium powder.”
“Let’s head downstairs now,” Phoenix said when Rysarian and Meadowlark were done looking around. “Quinn, are you coming?” She asked. Quinn pulled himself away from the books and the four headed down the stairs. At the bottom, they found themselves in a small square room with openings in front of them and one on each side. The one ahead of them had two armored slimes on either side of the door and a greenish glow came from that room. Rysarian went to the doorway to the left and glanced in while Phoenix did the same to the doorway on the right. Dozens of small, happy looking slimes were rolling over and around each other, giggling. Phoenix doesn’t want to go in, so she moves to the passageway ahead of them, between the two armored slimes. The other three follow behind. Green slime covers most of the floor and a pillar stands in the middle. The queen slime stands beside it.
“Ah, adventurers, you have come to my chamber,” she said.
“Yes. We were able to solve your puzzle, too,” Rysarian replied. “It should give you more space.”
“And we found out what happened to your hunting party,” Meadowlark added. “We’re sorry, but you won’t lose any more of your children that way.”
“But it’s safe to go out now, in a couple days you can start gathering food again,” Phoenix added.
“We’ll leave our rations here so that you have some more food until then,” Rysarian said.
“I thank you for that. As you have helped me, I will help you in return. You came here for some samples of my slime?” The queen asked.
“Yeah,” Meadowlark said.
“Then you may take your samples. There are also things that have been left by other travelers that have tried to hurt my children. You may take whatever you find from their belongings,” the queen said. A door opens on the other side of the room.
“Thanks!” Phoenix said. She leads the way across the slime, Rysarian follows, worried about hurting the slime, and Meadowlark takes up the end, not wanting to get anymore slime on her. Quinn stays behind to talk with the queen. In the back room, there were two skeletons, completely clean of flesh. One was wearing chainmail that radiated with magic. The other had a cloak with elven leaf designs on it. Rysarian makes a beeline to the cloak and tries it on. Meadowlark goes to the chainmail and tries it on as well. It’s a little loose, but it fits well. Phoenix heads back out to see the queen giving Quinn some things.
“Is there anything else you need help with?” Meadowlark asked, following Phoenix out.
“No, I thank you. I have given Quinn a couple more items to show my appreciation. This is a slime crystal, and also a very special treasure of mine.”
“Thank you,” Quinn said to her. He waved for the others to follow him out of the ruins. They follow him out, curiously waiting for him to explain what he had gotten. When they were back outside the ruins, he held up a deep red glob of slime. “This was something that the queen was working on in case they couldn’t figure out the food situation. It’s experimental, but it’s edible slime. It feeds up to five people three times a day and it replenishes overnight. She said it doesn’t taste very good, but it has all the nutrients we would need.”
“That’ll be helpful,” Phoenix said. Rysarian agreed.
“This is something else she gave me,” Quinn said, pulling out a round white thing. It also had the slimey look to it, but it was more transparent. “It’s a slime egg. It was a runt and was taking longer to hatch. She was worried that it wouldn’t be able to make it with all the other slimes and she wanted us to take care of it for her. I think it’s about to hatch, though.”
“You’ll keep it for us?” Phoenix asked. Quinn nodded.
“Look, the ship’s back,” Meadowlark said, pointing up at the sky as the ship floated above them. “Perfect, let’s go back. We might be able to make it back to the Spire before nightfall.”
The group gets on their small boat and head up to the ship. The Isis Maru takes off for the spire. “Welcome back!” Captain Charlotte greeted them. “Successful questing?” She asked.
“Indeed,” Phoenix replied. “How was your job?”
“It went splendid. It was just a routine supply drop,” Captain Charlotte replied. Corben chuckled as he walked past.
“Good to hear,” Phoenix said.
They make it to the Spire by sunset.
“Where will Feriday be?” Rysarian asked.
“Probably at the tavern,” Phoenix said. “I should go, since I was the one who’s spoken to him.”
“I’ll go with you,” Quinn said. Phoenix nodded and the two headed through the ever busy shop district to the Black Stout. It was busier than it had been the last time she was there, but the two found Feriday. He looks up and sees the dragon approaching.
“Feriday,” she greeted him. He waved back to her.
“So, so did you all retrieve the the slime?” He asked excitedly.
“We did,” Phoenix replied, passing over the vials. He accepts them happily.
“Oh, thank you, thank you so much. This should help my research, it will help my research greatly.”
“We also found a crystal,” she added as Quinn pulled the crystal out of his bag and handed it to her. Feriday takes the crystal with shaking hands.
“Oh, this beautiful! What a great, a great quality here!” He exclaimed. “Ah, yes, your payment,” he said. He pulled 500 gold pieces out of his bag and handed it over.
“Thank you,” Phoenix said.
“Oh, thank you!” Feriday replied.
“Do you have any idea about how to take care of slimes?” Quinn spoke up. Feriday looked up at the man in surprise.
“Well, I do know, know that they eat pretty much anything. And there are crystals that, that, that can affect their growth. I have, have a couple here with me. I’ll let you take one if you’d like.” Feriday shuffled through his pockets, pulling out globs and vials and even a couple bones before he had found all four of the stones he had. “This one here is wind, and this, this is earth. Here’s fire, and this is water.” He explained, pointing them out.
“We’ll take the fire crystal,” Quinn said, picking up the stone.
“Excellent. Thank you so much!” Feriday called after them as they turned and left, going back to the boat for the night.