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    • Shark

      Donations and Recognition!   12/22/2016

      Hello everyone! We are becoming a huge community and that doesn't come cheap. All staff here are volunteers and do this because they love the site. Right now, everything is paid out of pocket, by Erroneous. We would love for you to donate in order to help out with the site costs (i.e. Forum License, Domain Name, Hosting) so that we can keep Security and Forum Software up to date and possibly add some new features. If you do decide to donate, we have some fun, snazzy gifts of appreciation for you ;) Please message me (Shark) so we can get you the gifts of appreciation! We thank you for your support! Please use this link for more info   _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ How To Donate Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click the donate button.
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      NOTABLE DONORS LIST Here is where we honor the donors who go above and beyond the call of Aincrad! Top Tier Donors! Percival Row  Teayre Nezumi Zandra Alice Arc Atzo Baldur Claim Corvo Dominion Genji Ignavus_veneficus Jomei Kaya Lee Lessa Mack Macradon Nocturn Persephone Piera Ruus Sarial Hawke Shi Unyeilding Vale To express our gratitude, here is a picture of the iconic duo for all you wonderful supporters!
    • Shark

      The SAO Staff Team!   02/21/2017

      Hello members of SAO-RPG!

      I'm sure most of you (if not some) have noticed or heard changes were made to the staff team. If you are applying to staff, you may have noticed that the application process has recently changed. This has all happened because of a reformation of the staff team and the way it operates. The staff now has separate teams for development. These teams are: Floor Creation Team [Floors, Quests/Events, Bosses], Systems & Clarifications Team, and Player Support Team.

      "Who is on these teams?" Well the answer to that lies below! Floor Team Systems & Clarifications Team Player Support Team * - Denotes Team Lead

      We also have a team to work on and develop the current systems but that team will search for its members and is not allowed to be applied to.

      Now you may be asking, "Shark, how does one apply to the Staff Team?" And I have but 1 simple answer!
      Go read this thread and it may answer all your questions!

      If you have any more questions, send me a PM and I will answer your questions about staff. (Only the format of teams and/or the application process)
    • Cardinal

      [Live] 2.5.0 Patch Notes   10/02/2017

      <<2.5.0 Patch Notes>> Main Guide: The main rules/tutorial section has been rewritten. Resources: A Resources section has been added. This contains reference material such as the SP/Level chart, Skills list, Enhancement list, individual profession stats, and a new FAQ. General Rule Changes: Word count requirement in Merchants & Shops section has been reduced to 100 from 150. Col logs are no longer required to include in journals. The Banker system will be used to track currency/materials going forward. New characters and Rebirth characters may choose a Starter Package containing a variety of basic equipment, col, materials, and/or potions. NK/KE tags have been removed. The table for SP gain based on the number of players in a thread has been removed. SP gain is now issued at 1 SP per 3 posts, up to the number of completed pages. (e.g. 3 SP for three pages, requires at least 9 posts) A Skill Refunding System has been added. Players may now pay a col cost to remove known skills and receive a refund of the invested SP. Rules on vanity items have been clarified. Health regeneration outside of combat has been adjusted to (10 * Tier) per post. Stealth and Stealth Detection no longer have a base rating for players. Both now use a LD roll plus a Stealth Rating/Stealth Detection modifier. NPCs and monsters still utilize a base rating (10 as a baseline for player-created mobs). 'Using cover' no longer adds to Stealth Rating. Low light or darkness conditions grant a +1 to Stealth Rating, down from +2. Switch has been added as a game mechanic (no longer a skill). Players may call for a Switch when landing a successful attack. If the Switching player also lands an attack, a Switch is performed and the two players may immediately swap hate values. Players are required to post their level, stats, equipment, skills, etc., in their first post in a thread. This should be a snapshot of your character and should not be changed after the initial post. Players are still allowed to declare their characters at a lower level or with fewer items than what they currently have, but may not claim items that have not been approved or were obtained in an unlocked thread. Turn order rules have been modified slightly to reflect the leniency of Boss Raid combat. Players may post in any order so long as each player and the enemy has gotten one action in a single round. Outside of Boss Raids, parties may have a maximum of 4 players. Combat with more than 4 players should follow a Group order similar to boss raids. When fighting multiple enemies, players must now make individual rolls for each mob. This applies to both making attacks against multiple enemies and multiple enemies making attacks. One roll no longer applies to/for all targets. The Running Away mechanic has been updated. Running away from combat now uses a LD roll with a set of situational modifiers. The col/material values and frequency in the loot table have been adjusted. Labyrinth searching rules have been adjusted. The map fragment system has been removed. Bonus rewards for scouting and defeating the field boss have been adjusted. Housing and Guild Halls have been completely revamped. PvP rules have been adjusted. Players must make an initiative roll when engaging in combat with other players. The extended Player Killing rules/restrictions have been removed. Rules on player cursor colors have been expanded. There is now a strike system for criminal infractions that would cause a player's cursor to turn orange. Killing a green player outside of a duel now results in a permanent orange cursor. An NPC Guard mechanic has been added. Orange players may now enter safe zones, but must stealth/run from guards in certain safe zones. NPC guards have a Stealth Detection rating equal to (Floor / 3), rounded down. Added more detail to character death rules. The RGQ system has been removed. Crafting Changes: Fishing as a profession has been removed. It is now a skill. The CD result chart has been adjusted across all professions (except Merchant). Good and Bad quality items have been removed from the CD result chart. Salvage chances have been adjusted. Alchemists now have a chance to salvage one or both materials when attempting to craft crystals. Crafting Die tools no longer have an effect. Consumables, familiars, housing, and some items still provide EXP and Crafting Attempt bonuses. The process of crafting Feasts has changed slightly. Cooks may now take 3 identical food items and spend two materials to combine them into a Feast. A Feast can be used in a thread to provide that enhancement to up to six players. Artisan craftable item types have been modified (Trinkets, Jewelry, Sculptures). The buffs they can provide are largely unchanged. Alchemist craftable item types have been modified (Salves, Potions, Crystals). The buffs they can provide are largely unchanged. Skill Changes: Extended Weight Limit Removed Ranks - 15 SP cost Now adds +3 Battle Ready Inventory slots Adjusted Mod: Large Pockets Now has 3 Ranks Cost set to 5/3/2 SP (10 total for Rank 3) Now increases single Battle Ready Inventory slots to 7/10/15 Removed 'Larger Pockets' and 'Largest Pockets' mods New Skill: Fishing Cost: 10 SP Effect: Use a dice roll to fish something up based on a natural CD result: Gatherer Now has a chance to yield 1-3 bonus materials based on a natural CD result Sneak & Hide Renamed to 'Hiding' Now grants +1 Stealth Rating per rank New Rank 3 Mod: Untraceable Cost: 9 SP Effect: Negates the effect of the Tracking skill against the user. New Rank 3 Mod: Blindside Cost: 9 SP Effect: Gain +2 Stealth Rating. Natural BD rolls of 9-10 reduce the target's accuracy by 1 for one turn when attacking from stealth. New Rank 5 Mod: Vanish Cost: 12 SP Cooldown: 5 Turns Effect: Allows the use of a post action to re-enter stealth while in combat. Getting a killing blow on an enemy allows Vanish to activate without using a post action. Search & Detect Renamed to 'Searching' Now also grants +1 Stealth Detection per rank Mod: Night Vision Now requires Rank 1, down from Rank 3 Cost reduced to 5 SP, from 9 Mod: Reveal Now also grants +2 LD when searching for Labyrinths and allows Labyrinth searches at 15 posts. Mod: Tracking Now requires Rank 3, down from Rank 5 Cost reduced to 12 SP, from 15 Tracking requirements for monsters, players, and NPCs have been clarified. Mod: Detect Cost reduced to 9 SP, from 15 No longer uses or affects Tracking. Now Grants +2 Stealth Detection. Grants +1 LD when searching for sub-dungeons and labyrinths Battle Healing Now recovers 1% of max HP per rank, instead of (Rank * 5 * Tier) Mod: Emergency Recovery Cost reduced to 10 SP, from 15 Now recovers 10% of max HP, down from 25% Block MIT gained is now set per rank: 5/8/12/18/25, down from 1 MIT per SP invested. New Rank 3 Mod: Shield Bash Cost: 10 SP Cooldown: 2 Turns Energy Cost: 10 Energy Effect: Make an attack with an equipped shield. On a hit, deals (Base * 10) damage, stuns the enemy for one turn, and applies paralyze/thorns/flame thorns enhancements present on the shield. Note: When calculating Base Damage for Shield Bash, Weapon Skills do not apply. Mod: Safe Guard Reworked into 'Rampart' Added a 5 turn cooldown Added energy cost of 8 Now uses a post action to reduce final damage that would be dealt to you by 25% (rounded down). Effect lasts until the beginning of your next turn. Energist Removed Ranks - 12 SP cost Now adds (5 * Tier) to total energy, instead of (Rank * 2) Howl Added energy cost of 10 Mod: Focused Howl Added energy cost of 8 Parry Increased SP cost to 12, up from 10 Added a 1 turn cooldown Energy cost has been fixed at 5, instead of (2 * enemies parried) 50% damage reduction has been specified to apply to the final damage (after mitigation). Effect applies to the next attack against the user, and cannot reduce damage from multiple enemies at once. Mod: Vengeful Riposte Increased SP cost to 12, up from 10 Added a 3 turn cooldown Damage reflected is now 50% of raw damage, up from 25% of damage taken. This damage can still be mitigated. Switch Skill has been removed. Two-Handed Weapons The +2 DMG bonus for 2H weapons has been clarified in the first rank of 2H weapon skills. All Weapons The Ferocity and Finesse mods have been condensed into a single description. You must still specify the weapon type when acquiring the mod(s). Mod: Ferocity Rank requirement set to 3, instead of ranging from 1-5 Now increases base damage of all sword arts for the chosen weapon by 1. Mod: Finesse Rank requirement set to 3, instead of ranging from 1-5 Now has 3 Ranks Cost adjusted to 5/3/2 SP (10 total for Rank 3), down from 15 at Rank 5 Now reduces energy cost of all sword arts for the chosen weapon by an amount equal to its rank. Mod: Quick Change Cooldown reduced to 3 turns, down from 5 Now allows the user to swap, equip, or unequip a weapon in their Battle Ready Inventory. Mod: Stamina Now reduces the energy cost of all attacks by 1. Heavy Armor Increased the amount of MIT gained to 8>12>18>25>35, up from 3>7>12>20>30 Mod: Athletics Bonus health increased to (15 * Tier), up from 15 Mod: Stonewall Bonus health has been adjusted to (15 * Tier), instead of equal to mitigation from other skills. Now also grants 10 MIT when wearing heavy armor Now also reduces damage taken from damage over time effects by 25% (rounded down) when wearing heavy armor. Light Armor Adjusted the amount of MIT gained to 5>8>12>18>25, down from 3>7>12>20>30 Mod: Athletics Bonus health adjusted to (10 * Tier), from 15 Familiar Mastery 'Accurate' now has 3 ranks. 'Assistant' now provides bonus EXP (crafting attempts at max profession rank) instead of CD. Meditation Removed Ranks - 8 SP cost Added a 5 turn cooldown Now recovers (3 * Tier) energy. Getting hit by an attack before the beginning of your next turn reduces the energy recovered to (2 * Tier). Survival Added 3 SP cost Increases out of combat health regeneration to (15 * Tier), instead of 20. Enhancement Changes: Life Steal has been renamed to Vampiric. The Crafting Die enhancement has been removed. Alchemist and Artisan item types for enhancements have been modified. Sword Art Changes: Multipliers have been simplified to a single number (x6) from the two-part formula (2x3). Several descriptions have been updated. Quest Changes: The 'Redemption' quest has been revamped. The level and repeatable restrictions have been adjusted to affect only the bonus SP rewards: The First Few Lessons Are Free The Second Lesson is Also Free The Third Lesson is Just As Free The Fourth Lesson is Actually Free The Venemous Warg Repeating the 'Earning a Living' quest now allows a player to change their profession. Changing professions will reset experience to 0. Repeat completions of the Earning a Living quest will only award bonus materials if the quest-taker is changing their profession. The following quests have been removed: «Witch of the West and the Three Treasures: T.M.H & S.B.» «Witch of the West and the Three Treasures: T.L.C.» «Witch of the West and the Three Treasures «The Falling of Tagas» Housing Changes: The cost and size of Player Housing is now determined by a 'plot size'. The plot size dictates how many room slots, yard slots, and stories a house can have as well as the initial cost when purchasing. Purchasing a PK-accessible home (outside of a safe zone) has an additional cost. Buffs from Guild Halls/Player Housing now comes from the type of room, rather than furniture. Certain rooms for Player Housing have upgrades. Player Housing buffs must be assigned to a player. Home owners may use the Housing Evaluation topic to re-assign a room's player(s) once every 30 days. New/Rebirth Character Changes: Players who have submitted a new or rebirth character journal for approval in the past 30 days are eligible to add one of the starting bundles. <<2.5 Update Survival Guide>> Skills: If you spent more than 15 SP on the Extended Weight Limit skill, refund any SP over 15. If you have spent less than 15 SP, the skill is inactive until a total of 15 is invested. If you spent more than 12 SP on the Energist skill, refund any SP over 12. If you have spent less than 12 SP, the skill is inactive until a total of 12 is invested. If you spent more than 8 SP on the Meditation skill, refund any SP over 8. If you have spent less than 8 SP, the skill is inactive until a total of 8 is invested. If you have the Parry skill, you must spend 2 SP to continue using it. Otherwise, it is inactive until a total of 15 is invested. If you have the Survival skill, you must spend 3 SP to continue using it. Otherwise, it is inactive until a total of 3 is invested. If you had the Switch skill, remove it and refund 10 SP. Mods: If you have the Detect mod, keep it and refund 6 SP. If you have the Tracking mod, keep it and refund 3 SP. If you have the Emergency Recovery mod, keep it and refund 5 SP. If you had Rank 1 or 2 of the Ferocity mod, lose it and receive a refund of the SP spent. If you had Rank 3 or 4 of the Ferocity mod, you must spend 6 or 3 SP to continue using it. Otherwise, it is inactive until a total of 15 is invested. If you spent more than 10 SP on the Finesse mod, refund any SP over 10. If you have the Large Pockets mod, you must spend 1 SP to continue using it. Otherwise, it is inactive until a total of 10 is invested. If you had the Larger Pockets mod, it becomes the new Large Pockets mod and you receive a refund of 2 SP. If you had the Largest Pockets mod, it becomes the new Large Pockets mod and you receive a refund of 5 SP. If you have the Night Vision mod, keep it and refund 4 SP. If you have the Vengeful Riposte mod, you must spend 2 SP to continue using it. Otherwise, it is inactive until a total of 12 is invested. Professions: If you had the Fishing profession, all EXP may be transferred to any other profession. If you had a Tool with the 'Crafting Die' enhancement, you may post it for re-evaluation with the Ambition or Crafting Attempt enhancement (item name/description may not change). If you retake the Earning a Living quest in order to change professions, your EXP resets to 0 for the new profession. Edit your existing shop thread with your new profession information. Housing: Existing Guild Halls and Player Housing have been removed. They may be repurchased through the Housing Evaluation template. Players who previously bought a home or hall have been reimbursed for the total col cost in their original housing application. If a guild had shared col lost due to the removal of a guild hall, PM the details to @Teion for review/reimbursement.
    • Aereth

      2.5.2 New Mechanic: Thread Invasion/Protected Threads   11/08/2017

      Hello Players,
      Once again your feedback is needed, so head over to the thread and tell us what you think. LINK  
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Shield

[F21 - PP] - Familiar Play Date and Looking for Loot

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Shield had taken too many distractions from the front lines. What had originally been only intended as a one-off carry for a low level player had turned into a couple of meetings with the intent to raise her level. He arrived at the teleportation plaza of Taft on the eleventh floor just after noon and was about to teleport out, when he paused and opened his inbox, beginning a fresh message.

Quote

"@Calypso,

I'm going to be farming up on the twenty-first floor. If you want a chance to explore further into Aincrad safely, this might be a good chance. Also, I figured our familiars could use a play date.

-Shield"

He sent off the message before stepping into the teleporter. Even as he called out for the twenty first floor, he wondered why he had thought to message Calypso. Before he had much time to ponder it, he had arrived and set off for the edge of town. As he walked, he equipped the two earrings that he had acquired, each of which serving to enhance his searching capabilities. If nothing else, he hoped to find some things worth taking home to the shop.

As he crossed the bridge from the main settlement, he set about searching for the typical standard materials. It was mainly rope bridges out from the main settlement, each of which led through the main chamber of the cavern to one of several tunnels that branched their way out through the stone like spider webs. All the way around the floor, luminous crystals and fungi lit the way in the otherwise unlit subterranean floor. Before he had made it far, his left earring lit up, and he knew he had struck pay dirt. Casting about on the ground, he spotted the cause of the light. A small crystal formation had spawned right beside the path. He gathered it and stored the item for later use.

Spoiler

ID# 91585 results: Loot: 10 + 5 = 15 - Success! +1 T3 Material [1 Total]

 

Edited by Shield

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ID#: 91590 | LD: 17 - +1 material

"The twenty-first?" Callie repeated aloud as her eyes scanned over the contents of the message she had received from Shield. She was a bit surprised at the prospect of putting herself on such a high floor without many levels under her belt, but her lips curled into a soft smile as the memory of their last excursion resurfaced in her mind. With her back pressed against one of the many wooden benches that littered the plazas in the Town of Beginnings, her eyes turned down to the long-bodied creature coiled in her lap. "What do you say, Dani?" The sound of her soft voice caused the dragon's eyes to blink open and his neck stretched upwards as he looked to his owner. She brought her hand over and scratched the top of his head, circling her tips around the stubby horns poking out from his skull.

Maybe ten minutes had passed by the time Callie called out the name of the mining town at the teleport plaza of the first floor. Her eyes closed as a white light carried her avatar up the twenty floors to materialize in the center of Tomoika. As they fluttered back open, she scanned over the cavernous city with wide eyes. The massive structures, the soft light given off by hanging stalactites and florescent fungi, and the lack of a sky hanging overhead were all brand-new sights that filled her with a sense of childlike wonder. Simply standing in awe for a few long moments, it wasn't until Danesh's chin met her shoulder as his interest in the landscape faded that Callie came back to her senses. She summoned her menus to send off a quick reply to Shield and inform the man that she had arrived in the main settlement, as she didn't trust her lacking sense of direction to track him down on her own.

She had reached the edge of the safe zone rather quickly, taking in the sights with a small smile of interest resting on her features. Catching her attention, her eyes were drawn back to a small group of glowing mushrooms a short distance outside of the boundary that was considered the city's safe zone. One sproutling in particular glowed more brightly than the others, and she paused with a curious gaze before giving a quick glance over her shoulder. With hurried steps, she moved to the formation and knelt down, retrieving the mushroom from th ground and depositing it to her inventory.

Edited by Calypso

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ID# 91611 results: Loot: 9+5=14 - No Materials [1 Total]

Shield heard his inbox ping with a new message and checked to see if it was in fact Calypso who had responded. He was pleased to see her name at the top of his messages. After giving her reply a quick read and taking one last fruitless sweep around him for items, he doubled back to the edge of the safe zone. He had not wandered far, so finding her did not take long at all. He waved as soon as he saw the telltale patch of pale blue that was the easiest feature of hers to spot far away.

As he drew nearer, the curious snout of his bush viper familiar poked its way out of his sleeve and began tasting the air. Shield turned his hand over, allowing the creature to slither out and ball itself up on his palm. By the time he had closed the distance, Lilith was coiled contentedly on his hand, her tongue flicking towards the dragon familiar.

"Good to see you, Calypso," he said with a slight nod of his head. "I honestly didn't know if you'd come out this way or not. I'm glad to see you trying new things."

He held out Lilith, who extended herself to close the distance to the little dragon, wrapping herself around his nearest paw for stability as it maneuvered up onto his back to settle in the fur between its shoulder blades. She sat there contentedly, flicking her tongue proudly from her new perch.

"Well, so much for manners," Shield said with a shrug before gesturing to the path ahead. "I'll keep watch up front, but these paths tend to be pretty clear. I'll be on my guard either way."

Edited by Shield

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She had just returned to her feet when a familiar voice announced Shield's presence beside her. Callie turned, a pleasant smile appearing to greet him. "Same to you!" Whether it was caused by the impressive new scenery, the prospect of adventure, or perhaps something else entirely, her tone was a note more cheerful than her typical politeness. Her expression turned thoughtful at his comment about her showing up after all, and she pulled up a hand to tuck a few loose strands of hair behind her left ear. "Well I certainly wouldn't be out here on my own, so thank you for the invite." She started with a chuckle. "This is so different from the lower floors, it's really impressive." Her head turned to the side and she gazed out over the wide caverns for a few moments again before the small viper eagerly stretched her body out towards them.

Danesh's dark eyes watched Lilith carefully, his nose twitching a couple of times as she drew incredibly close. His tail twitched lightly, tapping against Callie's arm when the serpent looped herself around his paw and climbed atop his back. His head lifted from the woman's shoulder, twisting around in an unsuccessful attempt to find the face of the colorful viper. His nose twitched once more before her turned forward again and gave a light shake of his head that tossed the darker gray hairs of his upper mane from side to side.

Callie let out a chuckle at the strange interaction between the content serpent and the passive dragon. She turned her head to catch a glimpse of the two creatures hitching a ride before she moved forward after Shield, being careful not to upset the balance resting atop her shoulders. "I'm glad to see they get along." Her attention came back to the front as she followed the tank away from the city's edge. Her chin tilted down in a nod, "Right, I'll stay on my guard as well."

ID#: 91614 | LD: 10 - nothing

Edited by Calypso

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ID# 91615 results: Loot: 17+5=22 - Success! - Found 1 T3 Material [2 total]

Before they had gone far, Shield's earring lit once again, casting a pale, golden light onto his shoulder. He cast about on the ground, but did not see anything out of the ordinary. It was when he turned around and glanced to wards the wall of the cavern that he spotted a patch of lichen that seemed to be putting off its own light, though this one a pale purple to compliment the gold that the earring that shed onto it. He tapped the item and selected the option to collect it, and it vanished.

"Well, if this had been my last familiar, first of all, it would not have been able to hitch a ride on Danesh," he said, turning back to the road. "If you ever stop by my shop, I'll let you see Norbert. He's in a tank that takes up the entirety of my front window. He's much happier in there than he ever was adventuring... or doing anything for that matter." He frowned a little, remembering how many times that hooked beak had snatched away pieces of his digital body. Fortunately, he had the regeneration to handle it. "In any case, Lilith is much easier to carry around and to manage in general than a hundred pound snapping turtle."

The path ahead forked, and Shield took the left path, avoiding the room with the mushroom colony that tended to spawn sentient, fighting fungi. Not that he couldn't manage, but it made more sense to avoid confrontation with Calypso there.

"It's a little weird seeing our familiars be in such close proximity," Shield commented. "Having a familiar always reminded me of the animal companions in one of the books I used to read. Those animals were actually an extension of the person's soul though, and so for them to be in close proximity like that would be more than a little invasive if they didn't know each other very well." He tilted his head towards the familiars. "This is a little more akin to a couple of dogs sniffing each other to say hello."

Edited by Shield

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"Oh, I can imagine." Callie said with a soft smile, picturing the difficulty of looking after a large snapping turtle as a familiar. She brought a hand up to stroke gently against Danesh's furry skull, taking care not to invade Lilith's own space while she perched on his back. By now, the tension in the wingless dragon had faded, and he had more or less accepted the reptile's presence. Callie scanned the uneven walls and turned up to the high ceiling above them, still taking in the scenery as she continued to listen. "That sounds like an interesting book." She commented with a touch of curiosity. Her fingertips gently ran over Danesh's small horns and around his tiny, pointed ears as they idly continued to pet the familiar.

"I'm relieved Danesh is as laid-back as he is. I was a bit nervous about taming a familiar for a virtual reality game." She admitted, casting a glance at the room to their right that was littered with even more mushrooms and other damp-dwelling flora before the sight of it vanished behind another dark, rocky wall. She continued after Shield, trying to keep an eye out for any other items that could be foraged along the way. "I've never owned a pet before, so I was worried if he had ended up being more high-maintenance that I might not be able to care for him properly." Her eyes softened with another sideways glance at her shoulder.

ID#: 91634 | LD: 10 - nothing

Edited by Calypso

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ID# 91650 results: Loot: 11+5=16 - Success! +1 T3 Material [3 total]

"Well, the nice thing about virtual familiars is that they're exactly as high or low maintenance as you want them to be," Shield said, glancing over at the odd assortment of creatures on Calypso's shoulder. "You can feed them with the barest essentials, or you can spring for in-game accessories that cost more than some top-rated gear. Luxury items can cost a ton of Col."

He continued to steer them down safe passages, all the while making sure that wandering monsters didn't sneak up on them along the way. It was rare, but not unheard of. In recent months, he had spent so much time down these passages that certain parts of them did not even require though to navigate. In the end, he was sure the work would be worth it, but he had definitely spent more than his fair share of time up here.

"Don't mean to leave you out of the conversation of navigation," Shield said, glancing back over his shoulder once again. "Since this is currently the best floor to grind for items, I've spent a ton of time up here lately, and my feet more or less just take me. If you see anything you want to investigate, feel free to let me know."

As he finished that thought, his earring ignited once again, the gold wire inlaid in the simple silver hoop lighting up like the filament of a light bulb. He glanced around, spotting one of the molts of the strange crystal-shelled hermit crabs that lurked around the floor. As best he could gather, it would be useful in alchemy or perhaps in making a suit of chitin armor, but either way, it was apparently a high quality crafting resource, and he gathered it like the others.

Edited by Shield

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"Good point." The existence of such items had been unknown to her until now, but his mention of them didn't surprise her in the slightest. She was still a bit sour over the few pieces of vanity clothing that she had lost. Beginners' gear seemed to be so recognizable, she thought on more than one occasion that she might stick out less if she was roaming around in casual attire than the simple cloth and leather armor that her avatar currently wore. As she pushed herself to continue taking on quests and gaining experience, her priorities needed to be shuffled around. She had been content spending her earnings on whatever she felt she needed to comfortably get by, saving the rest for some lofty goal like a house if she could ever manage it. Now, she was probably better off looking into a pieces of enhanced gear to get her stats in order.

"Oh, no worries." She replied, not having given a second thought to following after Shield's lead. When he suggested she could point out anything she found of interest, Callie couldn't help but let out a small chuckle. "Be careful giving me permission to get distracted, or your material farming might suddenly start taking a lot longer." She only half-joked, as she didn't intend to hold him up or have him go out of his way.

The hand that had been gliding over Danesh's head finally fell back to her side, and the small dragon stretched its mouth in a silent yawn before lowering his neck and resting his head back on Callie's shoulder. While she hadn't had any luck finding any materials of her own since they had left Tomoika, Callie's eyes drifted towards the dark cavern wall to their right, her gaze unfocused as if her attention was elsewhere for a moment. A sound had carried itself to her ears, almost as if a faint echo was bouncing off of the tunnel walls, and the woman was in the process of identifying it. With a generous distance between the players and the source of the soft, steady roaring, she had eventually surmised that the noise was produced by water, most likely a fast-moving river or even a waterfall.

"Shield?" She prompted, "Speaking of investigating, do you hear that?"

ID#: 91668 | LD: 7 - nothing

Edited by Calypso

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ID# 91671 results: Loot: 6+5=11 - No mats [3 total]

Shield turned his head to her and nodded. He slowed his gait, but he did not stop, at least not just yet. "I've been hearing that around here for a while. If there's an actual source, I have yet to find it. You're more than welcome to take a look. Maybe fresh eyes are what we need here." He gestured vaguely in the general direction of the sound as an invitation, but without knowing where the actual source could be, general was the best he could manage.  "It could be any number of things. Just know that if it's something new, I won't know how safe it is until we're already exploring it."

He wasn't particularly concerned. As far as he could tell, he and the handful of players who had been delving the deepest into the twenty first floor were more than strong enough to handle it, at least long enough to get out a teleport crystal and voip out. The cavern had narrowed as they walked, closing in on either side of them until they were in a proper tunnel.

"Do you want to stop for a bit and see if you can make some headway?" Shield asked, turning to Calypso and pausing for her response. On her shoulder, Lilith sat contentedly, tilting her head from side to side with mild interest regarding the crystals and fungi that lined the walls and lit the way. "This might be the first time she's really been out of my sleeve up here, at least for any significant amount of time."

Edited by Shield

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"She must have taken quite a liking to Dani, then." Callie chuckled lightly, bringing a hand up to trail over the uneven surface of the cave wall to her right. Her tips recoiled slightly after they had made contact, not expecting the chilled moisture that clung to the dark rock. Still, she ran her fingers over the wall until she came to a stop beside Shield. Her brows knit, unsure if her concentration had any effect on the clarity of the sounds that Cardinal replicated to her brain.

"I swear, it sounds like running water." She mumbled, a lingering note of uncertainty in her voice before she continued. "But still, in a fantasy setting that can easily mean a not-so-friendly water elemental or something." After a few moments spent staring down the length of the dimly-lit tunnel, she turned her chin towards him and gave a small nod. "Why not?" Perhaps she was choosing a poor time to feel adventurous, but she doubted that she would get another chance to find herself on this floor--or at least outside of Tomoika--anytime soon, if at all.

She continued forward with slow steps until the both of them would take up a careful pace. They quickly came to another fork in the path, and Callie's eyes danced between the two routes, trying to discern which might bring them closer to the sound of the steady, muted roaring. Favoring the left side, she gestured in that direction with a sideways glance to Shield to check with her more knowledgable traveling companion before pressing onward. Danesh, in the meantime, lifted his head slightly and curled his long neck, trying once more to inspect the serpent perched on top of him.

ID#: 91704 | LD: 2 - nothing

Edited by Calypso

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ID# 91742 results: Loot: 5+5=10 - No mats [3 total]

"I think she thinks she's found her brother," he said with a smirk. "The only other familiar she really sees is my companion, Beat's, and that's a falcon. Not only does it look nothing like her, but I doubt she feels super comfortable around a natural predator. Danesh is at least roughly the same dimensions, if not scaled up a little bit." As Calypso gestured to the left-most fork, he gave a nod. "I don't remember anything particularly dangerous down that way. I just also don't remember there being a waterfall."

The fork opened into a wider chamber at first, the walls of which were covered in tiny, luminous bugs, not terribly unlike fireflies. As the two of them came near, all of the bugs nearest the entrance flitted into the air, cascading in swirls of light as the clumsy things fled away from the threat of newcomers. Still, despite all of this, there were no real signs of a waterfall aside from what Calypso had heard so far.

"I've more or less canvased this area," Shield admitted with a shrug of his shoulders. "I wouldn't know where to begin searching again. If you have any bright ideas, now would be the time to put them to use."

Shield took a seat, sitting back and watching the swirling of the insects as all but a few stragglers finally found a new section of wall to inhabit. Tilting his head back, he watched the masses of them twitch and shuffle around on the ceiling as they kept the chamber lit.

Edited by Shield

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With every piece of scenery being new to her, Callie glanced over to her traveling companion as he took a seat against the cave wall. She continued walking along the sides of the empty space, gazing between the crystal and rock formations, the twinkling insects, and bare walls in between for anything of interest. "Well, maybe this new set of eyes can serve a purpose up here." The corner of her mouth pulled up into a soft smirk.

Of course, she would just feel silly if she didn't find anything out of the ordinary now. Circling around the chamber with slow steps, she occasionally stopped and crouched down, or lifted herself on the balls of her feet so as to inspect something that varied from eye level. She reached a hand out to one of the small crystal clusters that clung to the dark stone. To her surprise, the smooth surface reflected a soft red light that the center of the crystal began to emit once her fingertips had made contact. Callie blinked, the reaction unexpected, but hopefully telling.

With her lips curled into a curious smile, she pulled away and looked around for any identical, or even similar formations. Working her way around the room in a second pass, three more small clusters lit up with the same red hue each time she grazed her fingers over their surfaces. She stopped in front of the fifth--and from what she could tell after her thorough search of the chamber--final formation on the wall opposite where Shield sat. Without hesitation, Callie reached above her, just managing to touch a corner of the unlit crystal before it sparked to life like all the others.

She stared at it for a moment, waiting for some sort of reaction. Danesh's tail twitched lightly, and the familiar picked himself up across her shoulders before hopping away from the woman and hovering in the air nearby with Lilith in tow. Callie perked up at his sudden movement and turned her chin towards the dragon with a small frown. "Danesh, what are you--" Her breath caught in her throat before she could finish her sentence as the ground beneath her suddenly gave way. A generous patch of earth around her feet crumbled and disappeared, along with the woman, into the darkness below.

ID#: 91812 | LD: 2 - nothing

Edited by Calypso

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ID# 91813 results: Loot: 8+5=13 - No mats [3 total]

Shield watched carefully as she set about touching the various crystals around the room, some of which seemed to change light properties when touched. It was common for environments to interact with users in SAO, but she could have been onto something. Either way, he decided to let her have fun with it. The activity seemed harmless enough. Either way, Shield could hold his own against anything that showed up.

There were two things at least though, that Shield could not save Calypso from. The first was trapdoors. The second was gravity. As she fell, Shield did not move at first. His eyes had seen what they had seen, but his mind justified it by telling him that he had seen her trip and fall, and that her complete disappearance was just doe to her having fallen behind something he hadn't seen. But over the next second, his eyes failed to come up with more explanations as to where she had gone, and the more it failed to do that, the colder ran his blood.

He stood, and as his height changed, he could suddenly see a gaping hole where Calypso had stood a moment before. Leaning forward, he took off at a sprint, pausing just before the hole. It was pitch black, with no hope of seeing where the tunnel led, but whatever was happening down there, he needed to be there. Her level was too low to be prepared for the challenges of the floor. With only another fraction of a second to pause and reconsider his decision, Shield took a breath and jumped.

Edited by Shield

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A short splash echoed and carried through the darkness. When Callie's feet hit the ground about a story and a half down, her knees buckled and she let out a small grunt at the sudden impact. She caught herself with open palms pressed against the ground, feeling the cool water that reached up past her wrists tickle her bare skin. They retracted, and she shook her hands lightly in the air in front of her in an attempt to shake off the wetness.

As she remained crouched, her eyes blinked and strained against the darkness. Her mind was catching up with her, trying to discern where she had fallen to when another splash sounded nearby, causing her to snap to attention. "...Shield?" She slowly straightened her knees to stand upright and turned her shoulders in the direction of his landing. Her eyes traveled upwards, only able to spot the opening to the chamber above thanks to the faint glow of the lighted bugs that still crawled and flitted around the walls and ceiling.

"Sorry, that was pretty careless." She offered the apology once she was sure the figure was, in fact, Shield and not a monster or other unfriendly encounter. It only took a second for the weight of the situation that she had quite literally dropped them into to fall on her shoulders, forcing her to take the situation seriously after her little 'touch all the crystals' game. If she thought she could see anything useful or even notable through the darkness she would have turned her head and tried to scan the area. By the same merit, the threat of stumbling into any more unfavorable situations kept her feet rooted to the flooded ground beneath her.

ID#: 91845 | LD: 9 - nothing

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ID# 91846 results: Loot: 9+5=14 - No mats [3 total]

Shield landed on both feet, dropping to a knee and catching himself with his hand. In the real world, that fall would have easily jarred his bones violently enough to cause severe pain or even a fracture, but for now, it was manageable. He straightened up, wiping away as much of the wet as possible from his knee as he took in their surroundings. After a few moments, he realized that there were no monsters around. It had been a trap door, but not into a trap room. He glanced down and realized that in his panic to assess the new surroundings, he had opened his menu without even realizing it, his finger already hovering over his combat gear to equip it. He sighed, relaxing his index finger.

As he looked around in the dark, he could tell that light was going to be an issue. He scrolled down past his gear into his materials, summoning out a piece of raw crystal into his hand. Immediately, his earring blazed to life, casting a halo of golden light that enveloped both players. He took visual stock of Calypso, noting that, although wet, she seemed more or less unharmed.

"Are you alright?" he asked, offering her a sand to stand up. "I wouldn't blame you for being a little shaken after a sudden drop like that."

Edited by Shield

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With a couple of rapid blinks at the sudden light source, Callie's eyes adjusted and found the man beside her, offering a hand and some words of concern. A soft smile unconsciously appeared, and she accepted his help to pull herself back to a standing position. She took a second just to gauge herself: heart pounding and breathing a bit quicker than normal with the adrenaline that had spiked from the fall. Dismissing both and determining nothing else to be cause for alarm, she drew in a deeper breath through her nose in order to hurrying along the process of calming her body down. She gave a short nod, "Yeah. It was startling, but I'm okay." She assured.

Through the opening in the ceiling, Danesh finally saw fit to rejoin his player. The dragon snaked down through the air and came into view, carrying the brightly-colored viper on his back all the while. When her eyes turned and she recognized the creature, Callie's expression quickly became stern. "Danesh, if you're so clairvoyant as to keep yourself from falling, you could at least try to warn me!" She gave a small huff while Danesh stared back at her with the same expressionless gaze he always wore.

Determining she was in no mood to carry him around right now, he stayed put and kept himself aloft in between the two players. Her heartbeat was still in the process of normalizing when she turned her head and tried to take a look around them again. Besides the light shimmer of the clear pool of water that reached to the ankles of her boots, it was still difficult to make out much through the surrounding darkness. "I don't suppose you know this area?" She asked in a quiet voice, unsure of which answer to expect.

ID#: 91855 | LD: 1 - nothing

Edited by Calypso

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ID# 91856 results: Loot: 18+5=23 - Success! +1 Material [4 total]

Shield shook his head. He turned his gaze back to the darkness that surrounded them outside of the sphere of light cast around them. There were some sharp highlights thrown back at them from what he assumed were the nearest walls, but it was impossible to say for certain.He decided that forward was as good of a direction as any and began to walk.

"If there's a one-way entrance to this area, then likely we're going to have to find the exit elsewhere. My guess is we'll need to find a tunnel that leads back up." He clearly could see the water around them out to about fifteen feet, so there was little danger of the floor dropping out suddenly or hitting unexpected walls. Still, there were any number of other unpleasant things that could happen to them. Shield tried not to think too hard about any of them. He would hate for a routine loot search to turn into an actual danger. "Don't wander off," he mumbled to her in the drippy but otherwise silent air. Droplets seemed to fall on them fairly regularly, though not with any sort of consistency.

After wandering for a hundred feet, Shield's foot finally found an upward slope which led them up out of the shallows onto a stony bank. He glanced behind them. "It's a shame this place isn't lit," he said to Calypso. "These places, when lit properly, are spectacular. The surface of the water when still will perfectly reflect the ceiling so that it looks like there is no water at all, simply a room full of stalactites and stalagmites."

As he made his way properly onto the shore, his boot hit something on the ground that skipped a few inches with a clacking of stone on stone. He bent down to inspect it to find a strange ore that was inconsistent in color, ranging across the entire color spectrum. "Bismuth, maybe? Or something like it at least."

The dad in him wanted to chuckle at his use of the word 'or' while holding 'ore,' but he kept his mind on the task at hand, storing the substance away and returning his eyes to the shoreline of the underwater pool.

Edited by Shield

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Callie cast a curious gaze of her own over her shoulder at the flooded chamber that now sat behind them. As Shield described what the area might have otherwise looked like, she tried to picture such a sight until mentally declaring it an impossibility. "Hmm, have you seen something like that here before?" Though she didn't specify whether she meant on the twenty-first floor or in all of Aincrad, she voiced her curiosity.

Her eyes caught on the colorful material Shield retrieved from the cave floor, and shortly after shifted around them in an attempt to spot a cave wall or some other structure that might give them a better sense of direction. While the residual nerves from the 'trapdoor' mishap dissipated, she spotted the shine of reflected light off to her right and she wondered if it marked the wetness that clung to the damp cave walls. She cautiously reached out a hand, only having to take half a step before her fingertips gingerly grazed the rough surface and Recognized the feeling from all the hands-on exploring she'd done up to this point.

Callie traced her tips carefully along the wall as the two players continued to press onward, and before long the roaring of rushing water echoed along the walls to reach them again. She cocked a brow, first wondering whether or not the source was the same as what they had heard one level above. Golden eyes glanced to the brunette at her side, "Fingers crossed this is where we stumble on the peaceful, underground river rather than the secret underground boss monster."

ID#: 91858 | LD: 6 - nothing

Edited by Calypso

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ID# 91859 results: Loot: 15+5=20 - Success! +1 Material [5 total]

Shield gave a nod. There were any number of possibilities, and although he felt as if he could properly defend both of them in a worst case scenario, he would rather not find out the hard way. One possibility was not a monster at all, but simply harder to find loot. That was a bit of a pipe dream for now, and he didn't want to draw too much attention to that thought in case it turned out to be nothing.

"I've been through a few caverns in the real world," Shield said, finally addressing the question that Calypso had asked. "It has been quite some time, even before the start of SAO. It's pretty unreal."

The sound of water seemed to be louder now than it had been, but Shield had no real frame of reference as to whether that was an accurate assessment or if it was merely that everything else seemed quieter, or his hearing was sharpening in the dark. His toe nudged something else, and he almost overlooked it until he remembered that his earring was already lit and would not glow any brighter to indicate materials or treasures present. Upon closer inspection, he found yet another chunk of the same mysterious ore and stored it away with the first.

Edited by Shield

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Keeping her hand more or less in contact with the wall beside them as they walked, Callie's head turned to Shield with a voice full of interest. "Oh, really?" She asked, not to doubt his words, but simply out of surprise at hearing them. She thought for a moment where in the world one might have to find themselves to go exploring through caverns outside of SAO, but as she wasn't going to pry she left the curiosity to her mind. "The places you can find here," Her chin lifted an inch and her eyes trailed through the darkness above them and over to the wall beneath her fingers. "are pretty incredible, to me. It might be fake, but it's an impressive representation." She went on. "The closest I got to 'outdoor adventure' was bonfires during the summer. That was years ago." A reminiscent smile appeared.

As they continued on, Callie found herself staring suspiciously ahead, as if she wasn't sure if her eyes were playing tricks on her. Intermingling with the farthest reach of the light that spilled from Shield's earring, faint white reflections bounced from the moisture that lived on the dark rock. The farther they kept walking, the more clearly they could see their surroundings without the golden glow of his item to guide them.

The touch of apprehension she had felt from the increasing clarity of the rushing water disappeared once they had reached the end of the dark tunnel. The area before them opened up into a huge cavern, the few meters of cave floor that stood between them and a running river glistening brightly with the reflection of light. The source hung high above them, on the opposite side of the hollowed area was a massive cluster of shimmering crystals that let off a soft white light, acting like a chandelier and filling the cavern with a generous amount of light due to its size. A generous distance to their right, the roaring waters could finally be confirmed as the base of a waterfall that stood at least thirty feet tall crashing and pushing the river along.

Callie had stopped moving, staring awestruck at the scene before her. Golden eyes shifted slowly between the top of the rolling waves to the shining crystals to the river that stretched down the length of the wide cavern.

ID#: 91863 | LD: 1 - nothing

Edited by Calypso

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