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[PP-F21] Mining Blues <<Search for the 21st Labyrinth>> [Complete]


Hirru

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[Accessible to: All Raid Party]

The hunter was one of the first to burst through the door on the other side of the long stairwell that connected the floor twenty labyrinth to the twenty first floor.  Upon opening the door, he was assaulted by a rather humid air.  Getting over the sudden blast to the face, his eyes seemed to be adjusting to what could be seen as feint glowing light coming from everywhere within his gaze.  After a bit of focusing, he would find that the light was coming from a horde of luminescent fungi and other flora.  The light seemed to be enough to illuminate the inner workings of what could only be described as an underground cave formation.

"Everyone!  You're going to want to see this!"

The hunter called out to the entrance that he had just came through.  Looking back, he could see machinations and shifting of movement from a large stalagmite, or so he could tell.  That was possibly the main town of this area.  Taking no time to consider the dangers of the new floor, he would survey the area some more before thinking about heading to town.  It appeared that this may be the true face of the twenty first floor, and he was excited to get down to business.

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ID# 84822 results: Loot: 19 + 3 LD item + 1 skill + 1 skill item = 24 - +1 Material! (1 total)

Shield had already been scouting around the outside of the town, though materials had been of greater concern than the labyrinth, at least until a proper raiding party assembled. As he was making his way back towards the settlement, he saw a shock of green hair in the dim luminescense, and a smirk spread across his lips. He started to run to catch up, but he stubbed his toe on what ended up being an entire fist-sized chunk of not ore, but solid gold.

Floor twenty one doesn't skimp...

He stashed the new material before starting out once again to catch up.

"Looks like I'm not alone up here," he said coming up to Hirru a stop and clapping him firmly on the back. "Glad to see that Aincrad has more players worth their salt pushing the front lines today."

He had accompanied the other player a number of times, and the two of them had always made short work of their missions. This hopefully would be no different.

"What's the intent for this excursion? Materials? New loot? Or are you already searching for the labyrinth?"

It was rare for the stoic warrior to be so expressive, but he was having a difficult time containing himself. the floor was unexplored, practically pristine. There were adventures to be had and good progress to be made in all possible aspects.

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"Damn, I thought I was the first one too."

The hunter smirked when he was intercepted by one of the grand tanks of the Celestial Ascendants.  It seemed that he was already searching for materials to use on this new floor.  That was probably a good idea as this cavern seemed like it could hold some hefty base materials for crafting professions.

When asked about his intentions, the hunter didn't need to wait and think.

"I'm here for all three.  If we have any intentions of material hunting, we may as well go full throttle into finding the next labyrinth.  Maybe, we'll gain some new gear while were at it.  We'll have to fight plenty of mobs to get there, maybe.  That's how it always has been, at least from what I've been told."

The hunter explained while looking back at the large stalagmite in the distance, and the large town that seemed to be built into it.  Maybe they could get some more information in there.  While searching, a glint came to the hunter's eye around an odd rock.  Picking it up and examining it, he found it to be a much higher grade material than any other that he had seen before.

"Could this be...?"

[ID: 84825] [LD: 19+5] +1 T3 Mat

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ID: 84827
LD: 3+ 8 = 0

"Don't forget about me!" The young woman bounced with every bound step as her steel toed boots chomped away at the dirt and ground beneath her feet. She struggled to catch up with the others who were forming the scout team and she ended up sitting her palms over he knees and swept the curly hair from her face, "Alright. I'm ready to go. Looks like we got more players joining us as well." Shield and Hirru were the first it seemed and they had begun getting to work with searching for their materials. It was going to be a hot commodity for awhile until players were finished getting their new equipment. Till then, Anemone had her job as well, not only scouting for materials but offering support and healing to the front line scout squad. It would be dangerous, but she was not going to let that deter her from doing her job. So many people had showed up with strong and brave faces, this was her chance to step up now that she was with the Knights.

Unfortunately, as of now she could not find anything in this ambient. Her red eyes shifted to the others, and a smile on her face. "It'll be fun to work with you all. I'll keep an eye on your Hit Points. You can count on me." She said with a small salute.

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ID# 84829: LD= 15 + 3 + 1 = 1 T3 Material Found (1 Total)

"Yo Shield! Wait up!" Beat said, as he jogged to catch up to the normally even paced tank who had actually been so excited that he had run far ahead. Beat's speed helped him catch up, but he was still surprised that he had just now caught up with his regular traveling partner. 

"Man, I'm looking forward to this, but you took off to a huge lead. I guess I know how to get you moving now don't I?" He said, finally reaching Shield's side and jabbing his shoulder plate before sweeping how gaze around the unexplored area, quickly noticing what appeared to be a settlement. Horus, the falcon sitting on his left shoulder, squeezed to indicated something valuable causing Beat to look down and retrieve a small chunk of crystal before stashing his first piece of tier three loot and straightening up, looking to the other players around. 

"So this is our reward for making quick work of the over-hyped moth? Looks promising, doesn't it?"

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ID# 84830 results: Loot: 19 + 3 LD item + 1 skill + 1 skill item = 24 - +1 Material (2 total)

Shield nodded in greeting to Anemone and Beat's arrivals and again in acknowledgement of the rewards the floor had in store. Shield had already noticed a boost in Lilith's healing stats in his HUD, and he could only imagine that other bonuses would similarly scale as the new bounties of the floor unfolded.

"There's a lot to look forward to," he said, skirting the edge of the visible range with his dark eyes, taking full advantage of the luminous scenery. "This is what being a front liner is all about, I suppose. I guess I wouldn't really know, though. Before the labyrinth, Beat and I had only dipped our toes in."

His earring's golden inlay lit up brightly in the dimness of the cavern, and he cast about for the source of it. One of the stalactites near the ceiling seemed to be dangling a long creeper vine that was slowly reaching towards the cavern floor. On it, there were a number of leaves, the largest and most mature of which had changed in color from the dusty red to a pale, glowing blue.

"The flora here is something else," he said to himself. "But then again, with no sunlight, being greet to photosynthesize is pointless."

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"I don't think I ever could.  The Commander would kill me, if I did."

Said the hunter to his supportive teammate and guild member, Anemone.  He only recently found out that she had joined, but that didn't mean that she wasn't a force to be recognized.  Though, that's as much info about her has he had.  Only one other time had he met her, but that was about it.  Without much delay behind her, was the supposed duo partner to Shield that brought them up from the lower floors, Beat.

"Hey Beat!  Gotta say, excellent food!"

Shield was right about the flora being much different than anything they had seen on the floors previous.  Though, the only other completely cavernous floor, from what they could see, was the tenth floor; and, that one was encased in perpetual darkness.  At least the twenty first floor had bio-luminescent flora, and maybe even fauna.  He would have to check that out later, instead taking a piece of glowing mushrooms nearby.

"Well, I'm going to the main town.  We need to check where we are, maybe find some local map data, or any other information before heading out to explore the rest of this floor."

[Equipment switch: Guaridan 54 Mit -> Favor 3 LD]

[ID: 84835] [LD: 9+8=17] +1 T3 Mat

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ID# 84848 results: Loot: 14 + 3 LD item + 1 skill + 1 skill item = 19 - +1 Material (3 total)

Shield nodded, pausing as the weight of what Hirru had just said sank in. This was the first time that anyone had explored the floor. Even the beta testers had not come nearly this far, so there was no information. The things that they found would be what information brokers would sell to other players in the coming weeks. He shook his head, following closely behind Hirru.

As they walked, his earring once again lit, shedding a sharper light onto Shield's shoulder than the dim, diffuse light of the floor. Turning his eyes downward, he spotted another sizable nugget of gold, bending down to scoop it up and store it before falling back in step with the others.

"It's definitely a damn sight more welcoming than the other underground floor that we've seen," he thought aloud, keeping his eyes peeled in all directions since the boons and pitfalls for the floor were still to be discovered.

Every floor has its quirks...

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Walking into the protective coverage of the surrounding safe area, they were immediately barraged by the mechanical sounds and metallic ringing of mining processes in progress.  It wouldn't take long for them to find the sources of the noise as they came upon the residents of the mining town.  The stalagmite that was closest to them seemed to be one of many that were the ground connections to a vast network of building built within stalactites on the ceiling.  An ingenious idea to keep away from predators on the cavern floor.

Making their way up the first stalagmite, the group would find the populace, and what was truly going on.  All the men were fairly burly and/or covered in soot.  The few women and children that could be seen around the area were either in transit to complete chores, or were off for some shopping.  At least, that was what the hunter could discern.

After some working around, they would find a general store with a town map.

"Well, this is a start.."

[Safe Zone = No mats]

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As they explored the town, which was marked on their new maps as 'Tomoika,' Shield noticed something aside from just the builds and dress of the miners and their families. Everyone, be it man woman or child, had a look on their face that belied complete resignation. Now resignation to what was unclear, but the townspeople seemed to drift from place to place rather than walk. Their eyes were dead and empty of life, and they looked as if they were simply being carried from place to place as they made their way along market stalls and buildings.

"Something is profoundly wrong here," Shield said, watching their gaunt faces, all of which were either staring into the distance or downcast. "For people who live on a floor that's so vibrant, they're all dead on their feet. You there!" he said, grabbing a miner by the shoulder. "What happened here? Why does everyone look so lifeless?"

"Beggin' yer pardon, sir," gruffed the dust-smudged miner. "I gots places to be."

With that, the man shook Shield's hand free and made his way along the road, disappearing into the dismal masses that thronged along the streets.

"Well, that was helpful."

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The sound of metal would clang through the caverns and tunnels of the 21st floor. Macradon, clad in steel armor would be running up to the group not far from him. “Hey guys, wait up!” he said, running through the streets of the main settlement. Macradon would wave his hand at Hirru and Anemone, his two guild mates that had already set foot on the floor’s area. “I got distracted by all the colors ..” he said as he caught up the the people there. It was a small group, a group of 4, now a group of 5. It was quite a nice place, gloomy and dark, but happy and vibrant because of the bioluminescent fungi and other glowing organisms scattered around the 21st floor. Looking around, Macradon could only look in awe of the nice floor’s scenery. He would look down again, close his eyes and chuckled lightly for himself “It is beautiful, but it’s not the mountain ranges of the 7th floor” he thought and smiled.

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Hikoru caught up quickly with Macradon who had been running with them. He was one of his more trusted allies in this game, and he would stay by him if he could. He let out a small breath as they caught up to a group of frontliners, and his eyes came to one of the more beautiful floors in his eyes. They were truly something to enjoy, the crystals giving colors off the walls and the sculptures of dragons and beasts along the walls. He let out a small gasp of awe at the size of the houses, build into the rock and knowing that this is where he wanted to live. He now had a reason to get some Col. He made calculations in his head, but he wasn't sure how much it would cost. He would have to get his book on buying houses and what he can add to them for the right amount of money*

"Wow..." Is all he could muster. He looked at Macradon and gave him a nod. He was ready for a good adventure, and he knew that he could trust him. "Alright, let's head towards the labyrinth." He said more openly to the other players as well, knowing that their team that was here would handle this well.

((* Skyrim Reference because Skyrim is awesome XD))

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Macradon would smile, Hikoru was here, one of the top DPS players and a great friend of his, it was great having allies and not just enemies everywhere. With this, Macradon would nod and agree “Yeah, I want to find that Labyrinth as well … but where should we start? Isn’t every floor like … gigantic?” Macradon would ask. If they were to just look around aimless they would probably take months just finding the labyrinth, unless they were lucky enough to stumble upon it by chance. He wasn’t too sure, but they needed something to look for a labyrinth, and it could take as much time as several days even with clue. “Should we look for the high ground so we can scout over as much area as possible from a bird’s perspective?” Macradon would ask. That was how they did it last time which worked out, they could easily spot something out of the ordinary from a mound or a tower.

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"Maybe a little too helpful."

The hunter replied.  The town was even more dead than the inhabitants of the tenth floor, and those inhabitants were undead.  These people seemed neglected and forcefully pushed their bodies to the task at hand.  The hunter had a feeling that he had seen something like this before, but never known about it until now.

"Forced Labor?"

When he thought of this, a voice called out to them from the distant entrance.  Turning around, the group would find a lingering shadow that everyone would recognize and the great bruiser of the Knights of the Blood Oath.

"Capt. Mac!  Hikoru!  You guys have impeccable timing."

He would listen to the other two accounts for the initial climb to the mining town of Tomoika.  Everything seemed in order from there.

"For the most part, we are in the high ground."

The hunter said while gesturing towards the land bridges that connect each and every stalactite in the main cavern.

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Hikoru gave a nod as he thought of going to a high perch. He looked around the different building and noticed a church-like looking building up above most of the houses. He pointed towards it and let out a small sigh, shadows starting to surround him. Thanks to his Unique skill, it wouldn't be long for him to get there, but he had no clue how long it would take the Heavy Armor wearing comrade. He backed away near a wall, already feeling the shadow-door opening behind him, he focused onto a point on top of the tower, and soon he felt that they were connected. He heard Hirru and gave a nod

"There's still a higher vantage point however, so i'll meet you all up there. I'll scout ahead of time and find it, if I do before you get up, i'll DM you the co-ords and meet you there." He said, then disappeared through the doorway and appeared above. He gave a whistle towards the group to show that he was okay, and the whistle echoed off the walls, reaching every point in the cave. He let out a small sigh and started to look around to see where the entrance of the Labyrinth would be located.

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Shield watched as Hikoru and Macradon joined and his guild's DPS Paladin peeled off from the group. He whistled back with a short blast of sound to signal that he understood and nodded to the others before moving on. They had their own tasks as far as investigation went. The first item on the list was the disposition of the town. Out of the corner of his eye, among the narrow walkways that connected the hanging buildings and structures, Shield spotted a group of five children playing, though somewhat lacking in enthusiasm. They were grubby in both dress and hygiene, and although he knew they were only NPC's, it broke Shield's heart a little seeing young ones living in such a dismal place. Still, it might be easier to get a lead from them than from the bustling adults. He stepped closer and knelt down so he was at their eye level, addressing the group of them.

"Excuse me," he said, his usually hardened features softening considerably. Suddenly, he was no longer as difficult to read as he was so consistently known to be. "I was wondering if you could tell me why everyone looks so unhappy. Why are the grown-ups all so sad? Did something hurt people? Is someone making them work really hard or put themselves in danger?"

His tone was gentle, and he seemed very natural in his stance as he held himself at their eye level. It gave him the appearance of perhaps having been a teacher or caretaker. Perhaps even a father.

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Itzal had been exploring the floor for quite some time.  He had avoided conversations with the npc's as that could be done after they found the floor boss and took him down.  Right now he wanted to explore the floor and fill out his map as swiftly as possible.  So far he was doing a pretty good job.  Making good progress.  As he searched he noticed voices in the air and turned around.  Itzal dashed across the stony fields in his twilight cloak, Velnia gliding by his side, or rather zig zagging as she loved to see new things.  He was avoiding monsters as usual as he scouted the floor but then paused.  He was up rather high and he looked down to see Hikoru coming towards his general direction as well as Macradon, Shield, Hirru and Beat in the distance.  Detect let him see rather far after all.  Grinning he dashed down and waved at the dps paladin.  "Hey Hikoru!"  He began to slow down when he approached the others and grinned at Beat and Shield.  They were members of his guild and Macradon, who he smiled towards next, was pretty much the one player he enjoyed spending time with.  He didn't have much time to get to know Hirru and thus it was more neutral until he got to know the player better.  "Hey what's up guys?"  Itzal scanned the area for any materials but he didn't spot anything.  Oh well.

ID#  84895  LD:  3+8

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Hikoru gave a small sigh and looked around. He hadn't had much luck in finding anything from this vantage point. He decided to look around and see if he could find any materials, as with this new floor came tier 3, and materials would be needed if he wanted to get new armor and items. He let out a small sigh and looked around, seeing that he couldn't really find anything that would be useful. He remembered why he didn't material gather in the first place, and he knew that this would be a waste of his time if he kept looking. He decided to wait and see if he could find anything from his vantage point. He couldn't see the other players, but miners below him were going into the mines for that days work, which he wasn't suprised by any means. That was their job wasn't it? But it confused them as to why their homes weren't in amazing condition, with jewels in the walls and caverns and things made out of gold.

ID: 84896

LD: 7+4=11 No Materials found

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Shield looked up from his conversation, giving Itzal a wave before turning his attention back to the dirt-smeared NPC children in front of him. They were avoiding looking at him, scuffing their feet against the ground as he waited for them to reply. Finally, the youngest, a mousy little boy, piped up.

"We're not supposta talk about the scary thing," he said, avoiding Shield's face as he rubbed the end of his nose.

While normally this might be discouraging, Shield knew his own daughters well enough to know that if a kid isn't supposed to talk about something, that was likely exactly what they talked about as soon as there were no grown-ups around. That being said, kids were smart enough to know that a grown-up saying that they wouldn't tell another grown-up about breaking the rules was usually a trap. He decided to employ a different tactic.

"You're not supposed to talk about the scary thing either?" he said, feigning surprise. "I thought that was just us. I don't get it. What's so bad about talking about the scary thing? What's everyone so afraid of?"

The group of children crowded around, nodding vigorously as the taboo topic became seemingly safer to discuss. A different boy, this one a little taller rougher around the edges, spoke up.

"Yeah," the kid said, spitting on the ground and puffing up his chest to try to act tough. The idea of being on even footing with a grown-up seemed to inflate his ego a little. "It's bull ship!" he said. Shield had to cover his snort of laughter with a cough to keep from giving away the blunder that the child had committed in his attempt to act like a grown-up. "I mean, it takes most of our stuff and our dads all have to work real hard to give it stuff to make it happy and we aint even allowed to talk about it!"

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Itzal watched as nobody acknowledged his appearance besides a nod and no explanation as to what was going on.  Ok then, he'd need to figure it out himself then.  He listened to one of the npc's mention how he wasn't supposed to talk about a scary thing.  It could be a quest, boss, mob, npc.  Then Shield replied and when he finished Itzal looked around, noting how most of the npc's seemed terrified that they'd be attack at any given moment.  Itzal frowned and returned his attention to the npc's, listening to what the next kid had to say.  Itzal squatted down to their level.  "So something powerful comes in and raids your town?  Something too powerful for you guys to stand up against?"  Itzal thought about this for a second.  "You know, we just finished destroying another beast that intended to kill people.  It was huge and powerful as well, and it hasn't been the first.  We've been traveling many floors and we've helped clear out monsters.  Maybe we could help you guys kill it.  Wouldn't be the first time after all."  Itzal wondered if the kids would insist that it was impossible, but he was betting on the innocent hope and imagination that they would be willing to help the strangers.  Velnia flew over and landed on one of the kid's heads, looking at their faces upside down with a cute grin before flying among them, nuzzling against one or two of them.

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