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/qst/ - Quests

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>Separated Edition

An unknown tropical island somewhere in the world, where you tagged along for a mission to an abandoned Gem structure. You're not sure of the purpose of this place, but just because it's abandoned doesn't mean it's inactive. Having found out the hard way, the team became separated by some strange mechanism within the structure, that reacted to your presence. Coming here at first you were feeling pretty confident but now, well, you're not so sure.

As the dark unknown hides dangers about you, you're starting to think you picked the wrong alien space rocks to associate with.
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A direct continuation from the previous thread;

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You are Owen, a 20-year-old newcomer to the town of Diamond Shoals, and new acquaintance of the resident Gems there. In your spare time you've started helping them out with the odd job here and there, though this is a proper mission you've accompanied them on. And so after entering the overgrown and seemingly abandoned Gem structure together, and subsequently separated into another area altogether, you now await the unknown in the dark. With you is Sarah, a young girl though competent enough on her own. Together, though you're certainly not feeling, perhaps you might be able to prevail.

>Ask for your flashlight back from her, you're the one in charge now being the adult.
>See if you can find anything out from your surroundings, perhaps as to why you were separated.
>Pick a direction and start moving, you don't feel comfortable just standing in a void.
>See if you can find anything out from your surroundings, perhaps as to why you were separated.

"Sarah are you okay?"
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A big reason you ended up getting separated was trying to learn more about this place, and you think maybe you triggered a trap or something. Now that the team is split up though, it seems more than ever a good reason to find out what you can. Who knows, it could get worse and you want to be ready.

"Sarah, are you ok?" you speak up as you start to move around the little elevated platform, formerly floor, that you're both on.

"I'm ok... where's Emma? Is she gonna' be ok??"

She doesn't sound scared but is definitely worried, so there's something you both have in common. Without the green gem around, it definitely is worrisome, even if both of you are armed. Hopefully this is just a short separation and you can get to the bottom of it though, as you examine what goes on with this place as you move around. The most obvious sign, is that the name which you illuminated upon the wall earlier, now persists beneath you on the floor and even follows you around as you move. Getting to the edge of the platform even to try getting down (and finding it's only a short drop) you notice the name just follows you down to the lower floor.

"I don't think we have to worry about Emma, we'll find her again in no time I'm sure."

Sarah seems a little relieved by your faith in the team, and follows after you, a simple effort to help her down. Something you noticed when you got down though, a glowing portion on the floor some distance away, and now with Sarah also down with you a second floor portion also starts glowing. In reaction she shines the flashlight towards it, as you'd have done if you have it, and though you can't see farther than the glowing floor portions, it's a good thing you have the flashlight. The short distance between where you are and where the other glow is, is not a straight one and it traverses a gap in the floor to which neither of you can see the bottom when Sarah leans over just a bit with the flashlight to check.

"That's a long way down..."

You might have thought it another trap, but a closer look, and the edge around the gap is not clean. A crumbling edge, it looks like that part of the floor collapsed or broke away with time. How much more of this place is like that, you wonder?

>Carefully progress towards the glowing floor.
>It seems too obvious not to be a trap, try and find some other way.
>Have Sarah wait here by the elevated floor portion, where it's safe. You'll try going ahead on your own first.
>>Have Sarah wait here by the elevated floor portion, where it's safe. You'll try going ahead on your own first.
Keep the kid safe, you would rather be injured than what the gems can do to you.
Seconding, avoid gem wrath.
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Whew this one took a long time to draw.


As much as you think sticking together through this is a good idea, at the moment you'd rather not risk Sarah's safety while exploring the unknown of this place. Well, to be fair you'd rather not risk your own safety, but you're the one in charge, or at least you feel like you should be. So you tell Sarah to wait here on the elevated platform you both started at, in order to go ahead and check out the luring glow ahead. She's none too happy about this but does as you ask, sitting on the raised floor in a huff.

"Don't worry, I'll be right back."

"Don't write your name on anythin' again."

As risky as it may be, you let her keep the flashlight for now, and just try to be careful about how you proceed. Given the collapsed floor portion you're aware of, it's certainly dangerous to go walking about in the dark, but you'd rather that you could see where Sarah is at all times in this place.

So traipsing along as best you can while keeping an eye on her, you stop just short of a few more collapsed or weakened looking areas before you manage to reach the glowing floor portion. To your eyes it just looks like a glowing circle on the floor, and scrutiny of it doesn't reveal anything to you otherwise. Finally taking a deep breath and little else to do, you step onto the circle, your illuminated name on the floor merging into it though remaining visible within.

"%&$@ %&#%#&%& #%& #$& #%&#% & %#@&!"

Like last time you hear some unintelligible speak from beyond, this time though followed by a low hum. You worry of the meaning, though some fears are settled, as the room simply begins to softy brighten. Definitely not as bright as you'd like, but some relief in that you can at least mostly see where you're going now. Taking a look around you see that the floor damage is consistent with much of the rest of the area, maybe just erosion, decay overtime? The way to go seems clear though, a door-looking cutaway higher up on a wall ahead.

>Examine the extent of some of the damage of this place, since you're probably going to have to traverse some.
>Go back and fetch Sarah, with the room now visible it's less risky now and you might need her help progressing.
>See how far you can get on your own. You might be able to head farther up by yourself.
>>Examine the extent of some of the damage of this place, since you're probably going to have to traverse some.
At least we have some rope.
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If it's a regular enough sight in this place, then you might as well figure out if it's a regular enough peril. You wander around to a few nearby damaged sections of the area to get a closer look. To your surprise you find that none of them are actually just bottomless pits, rather they seem to have caved away into other chambers. Many of them though, although not bottomless, would be a deadly drop if fallen into. Other portions of damage, are just crumbled erosion overtime. Maybe not so much dangerous, but certainly a problem, as you stand back again and look up to the exit doorway at the top of the stair-like structure between you and it.

"How's we gonna' go ups there?"

Hearing a familiar voice, you notice Sarah standing beside you, also looking up. She probably can't see up as high as you can, but she still has the same idea of continuing further upwards.

"What? Hey, I told you to stay back! There could be other traps around or something?"

"Oh I thinked it 'cuz it was too dark and we didn't see nothin'... sorry."

You let it slide this time, since the way ahead is obvious. In the future though when there's also obvious danger, you'll have to be sure to make that clear. One benefit though of her joining you, is that on the way she passes over the other glowing circle on the floor, with the same process happening as when you did. A nice sign that the room lights up a little more, to where it's now plainly visible.

You still see some difficulty ahead of you though, what with the stair-like structure partially damaged and collapsed in places.

>[Write-in.] Challenge presented, a solution is required to reach the doorway at the high end of the room.
Rolled 10 (1d100)

Lets start climbing the ramp.
"Eh... how about you writing a Gem name? Did they teach you Gem language or something?"
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There has to be some sense to the gibberish speaking from... wherever it's coming from, now that you think about it. Like the rest of this place, you'd thought maybe whatever was speaking, was damaged overtime and so like with a radio was coming out as the equivalent of static or something like that. Maybe though it's clear, and simply another language?

"Eh... how about you write a gem name? Did they teach you a Gem language or something?"

"There's a Gem language? I don't know nothin' 'bout it. I can write a name if you want..."

With the flashlight she tries again, "drawing" on the side of the stairs in front of you. The word, or name Pearl is left behind, but like before it ends up drifting down beneath her and bouncing into her own name, before settling beneath it. You can tell she's a little upset by this and probably wouldn't have chosen that gem name had she known beforehand, though since you don't notice any other changes, the both of you just decide to climb up the stair-like structure to try and reach the door.

It ends up being more difficult of an effort than you'd have thought, and not even because you have to help Sarah; with all this climbing, she's just as capable as you if not more so. Eventually though after a rough ascent of the stairs, you encounter a damaged portion you can't just climb over. Collapsed as it is, there's only a thin standing portion which even Sarah has trouble shimmying across, and trying to climb along the collapsed portion looks too steep to accomplish.

"Maybe I can scooch across... but I don't think you can."

>[Write-in.] Challenge presented, a solution is required to cross this first collapsed gap.
What supplies do we have with us?

What you have with you, or between the two of you at least, are

>Rope, pocket knife, small first aid kit, small tarp, compass, cigarette lighter, water bottle filled, lunch.

All in the backpack you have. There's also the makeshift weapons you both have, made and given to you by Emma. You possessing a sort of baseball bat-style club and a shield, while Sarah has a small poker.

And then aside of all that are the usual items you just always have on you, like your own flashlight, a multitool, many snack bars, useful little knick-knacks.
Attach rope to shield, and try to use it like a grappling hook.
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While Sarah considers shimmying across and the risk of it, you rummage through the backpack and manage to find some of the rope you brought. It might not be the most complex plan, but it seems like an idea good enough, to tie the rope around the inner handle of the shield and use it as a grappling hook of sorts.

"I's gonna' try it. It's only a short drop if I fall." she mentions as she presses against the side of the next stair level and lines her feet up with the small edge.

"That's fine, just be careful and take it slow." you respond, already having tied the shield and starting to swing it around. She looks back to see what you're doing when she hears the spinning, but is clearly confused so just continues on. It takes you about three tries but finally you land the shield across the gap, well enough to catch on some rubble which you think will hold you. Or at least, for the short time it takes to get across.

So while Sarah is about halfway across, you take a running jump as far as you can, and land painfully amid the collapsed portion of the stairs. Thanks to the rope though you don't fall, and so are able to slowly, carefully climb up. By the time you reach the top, Sarah's already made it across so she's able to try and help to pull you up. Thanking her and complimenting her effort to cross on her own, you pick up the shield, and head further up the stairs. At last you make it to the remaining ramp, but again are faced with another collapsed portion, and gap to far to cross. Unlike the previous one, there isn't any edge to try and shimmy across, and it's also too far and high for you to throw the shield across with any hope of catching on something to climb up.

You still have the supplies you do, and Sarah to work with, but this is definitely a bigger problem than before.

>[Write-in.] Challenge presented, a solution is required to cross this final collapsed gap.
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How far away is the black triangle thing?

The diamond-shaped cutaway into the wall? Not super far. You could probably run and jump to it if you shed some of the weight you're carrying, and got a good distance to make it. Sarah probably would not be able to though, at least not on her own.
"That poker thing you have can't grow? Like the Monkey King staff or something? Because otherwise the only other idea I have us you trowing the shield but I don't think the rope is that long."
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While you lean over edge of the collapsed portion, Sarah is against the side of the elevated portion above and looking up, the both of you trying to figure out a way to continue to the next level. One method to your reasoning, is to see what else of the equipment you've got, in order to possibly help with your progress.

"That poker thing you have can't grow? Like the Monkey King staff or something? Because otherwise the only other idea I have is you trowing the shield but I don't think the rope is that long."

"Monkey what? Maybe Emma can make it grow but she ain't here." she doesn't understand your reference, though it seems fair that since Emma created the object (like your own shield and bat) only she would be able to control or change them. "Why'd you want me to throw it? You're stronger."

You recall the conversation earlier, wondering what Sarah was capable of. From your short time knowing the gem folks, they seem to be pretty strong, capable and having weapons or items of their own to use. Sarah though despite being at least half a gem, doesn't seem any different from any other child her age. Emma seemed to believe otherwise but that doesn't help right here and right now.

"What about throwin' me? Not over the hole but up there?" she points directly up to the next level. While it is quite high up, maybe something could be managed if she stood on your shoulders, something like that? It would largely depend on how well she could climb of course, and you doubt you'd be able to follow after her in the same way. Though, at least one of you would be up there.

>Try to get Sarah up to the next level, throwing her if you must.
>Tell her to wait here while you try and jump across to the nearest diamond-shaped cutaway in the wall.
>Tie a rope around her and let her try and climb up and across the collapsed portion. This is much less likely to succeed, but as long as you've got a hold of the rope around her, at least she can keep trying and not be in danger of falling.
>>Try to get Sarah up to the next level, throwing her if you must.
>>Tie a rope around her
And swing her over to the cut out.
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Her idea isn't a bad one, but you'd rather not end up separating if you can help it. So instead you go for the option which you can take, and then hope she can follow after. A run for the diamond it'll be then.

"Maybe I could throw you up there, but let's try a way we can both go. I'm going to try to jump across to that opening in the wall there, you just hold onto everything and follow after me when I say so."

She's obviously more interested in trying to jump up, but accepts your plan. So giving her the bag with everything in it, as well as the weapons, you simply take one end of the rope and tie it around yourself for this. Then getting a good distance, you build up speed in a short run across the flat portion and then jump across aiming for the cutaway in the wall. You actually manage to just make it, though because of the shape and downwards angle within the hole, you land pretty painfully. Wincing, you struggle to right yourself and aren't able to stand up straight, instead having to lean against one side of the diamond shape with your feet against the other.

Still though, you're in.

"Ok Sarah, now take after the rope. You can just drop down from the stairs there... try not to hurt yourself, and I'll pull you up here by the rope."

You call back the instructions to her, which aren't too complicated. She takes the chance to tie the rope around herself as well, then clamors down the side of the stairs and finally drops down. She hits the floor with a roll, landing much better than you did, and just walks along the floor till she's against the wall right beneath the diamond cutaway. After she tugs at the rope twice and looks up, you struggle at the odd angle you're positioned in, to pull her up by the rope. It's a lot of effort but eventually you manage to get her far enough up that she can grab onto the diamond hole herself and climb the rest of the way.

"That wasn't so bad. Now where to?"


Together you make the difficult trip through the diamond cutaway, traversing the difficult angles. Eventually you see why it was serving as a light source though; it continues some short way to the outside, the exterior of the mountaintop. A window, it looks like. A bit of a scary experience for you, in front, as you neared the edge and saw that it's a sheer drop below. You're sure the canopy of the island forest is below, but you can't see it through the cloud line.

"Wow! Do we has to get up there?"

Sarah poking her head out from behind you to see what's going on, marvels at the view and then points up and to the right. Some sort of elevated platform you can see a ways above. Likely where the stairs in the previous room lead to. Normally it would be well beyond either of your hopes to reach, but with all the plant growth overtime, it looks like maybe it could be possible to climb them? A very dangerous effort though, and not a fall you'd expect to survive if you lost your grip or footing.
>Try your luck together, at climbing the plants up. Hope they've grown in well enough to support you.
>As irresponsible as it may be, send Sarah up first, maybe with the rope. All things considered, she's a much better climber than you, or probably anyone you know.
>This is too dangerous, you'll have to find another way. Head back to the previous room, you'll take your chances with the stairs.
>>Try your luck together, at climbing the plants up. Hope they've grown in well enough to support you.
>As irresponsible as it may be, send Sarah up first, maybe with the rope. All things considered, she's a much better climber than you, or probably anyone you know.
>>As irresponsible as it may be, send Sarah up first, maybe with the rope. All things considered, she's a much better climber than you, or probably anyone you know.
Tie the rope to her.
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You can't believe you're considering this, but it seems that climbing up by way of the plants is the best course of action here. Otherwise you're not sure how you'd have progressed up the stairs in the previous chamber, and have been stuck. Looking over the edge though and then up to the platform above, you're starting to have second thoughts.

"H-Hey Sarah... you like climbing, right? You want to go first? My uh... feet hurt after that last jump, maybe best if I take a short break."

"Whassa' matter, scared?"

You quickly refuse, indignant over her accusations of your fear of heights. She's totally fine going on ahead though, even on her own. For safety sake though you have her tie the rope around herself, as you do the same. A tremendously bad idea to have done this if you were both climbing, as if one fell you both would. In this case though you're going to stay behind, below, acting as an anchor in case she ever falls and you can catch her on the rope. Furthermore, she says she can tie her end of the rope onto something once she gets up top, so that you can follow after without worrying about falling yourself.

So, after shuffling places by the edge of the diamond window, she makes a running jump and lands amid the overgrown plants and hanging vines. Quickly scaling up like a monkey, not even that surprised, knowing already how good of a climber she is from past experience. She almost makes it look too easy, which you naturally feel sore over, having to follow up after such a performance.


"See? That wasn't so bad!"

A long while later, longer than you'd care to admit due to freezing in fear while hanging onto the vines and looking down, you manage to slowly reach the top thanks to Sarah's mixed encouragement and ridicule from above. Shakily and with great fear you finally grab for the upper edge of the platform with all your life, pleading for help with the fear of falling now (even though you're tied safely). Thankfully Sarah gets down to help you up as best she can, struggling to pull you up. Once safely all the way, you quickly get far away from the edge and collapse, exhausted from the climb and fear.

"Owen! Come look!"

"A-Alright, just... give me a minute."

Eventually settling down, you sit up again to see Sarah leaning over the edge at the far end of the balcony. Removing the rope from yourself and dttempting to join her as best you can, you don't go to the edge of course but you at least approach it. You're glad you did though since even with your fear, the view is undeniably beautiful. The cloud carpet below, and the peaks of other mountains in the distance poking through, looking like islands amid the white sea.

"I wish Emma was here to see."

"I'm sure she will be, you can show her when we find her again."
>Stay awhile and take in the view, you packed food in the back so maybe have a bite to eat.
>Got to keep moving, explore the big balcony here more.
>That's enough heights for a lifetime, head back inside one of the doorways you can see up here.
>>Stay awhile and take in the view, you packed food in the back so maybe have a bite to eat.
>>Stay awhile and take in the view, you packed food in the back so maybe have a bite to eat.
Give Emma some time to catch up.

This is fine to do, though while waiting the time, are you interested in any particular topic(s) of conversation with Sarah? Otherwise will just stick to the usual.
Ask about the crystals.

By crystals, you mean the other gems she lives with?
Yes I do.
Learn their strengths and their weaknesses.
Did somebody say...
Indeed someone did, though Sarah and her guardians aren't Crystal Gems.

Apologizes for the hiatus by the way, unexpectedly got called away. Will try to resume tonight or tomorrow though, and along the usual posting schedule.
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As much as you'd like to move on and get through with this strange Gem place, the view up here really is too good to pass up on a chance to enjoy it. So finding a spot where the balcony isn't as damaged together, you sit beside it and rummage through the bag for the food you brought, just in case. Even the cooler, where Sarah stuffed some Shark Sizzlers.

So against the backdrop of the cloud carpet, amid the occasional winds and beneath the afternoon sun, you have an odd little lunch of sorts. You haven't known Sarah all that long relatively speaking but from all the things you've been through together, you feel on good enough terms to talk to her as a friend. That is, a much younger friend with not many things in common, but there's no shortage of things to talk about and she's always curious about you and your life. Something you've been curious yourself for an answer for awhile now though, is her living situation.

"Hey so if you don't mind me asking, but what's the deal with you and the other... gems, right? You're all gems? What's up with that?"

You know there are some touchy subjects for her and hope not to have overstepped or upset her. While she is a little surprised at your question seemingly coming from nowhere though, and takes a bit to think of an appropriate answer, once she starts talking she does so with her usual ease. Like if you'd asked her about climbing trees or something.

"Well there's Emma... Emerald, she's fun but busy all the time. She's the one in charge and super smart too but kinda' weird... I think she's messed up, or sad about somethin'. You see'd already she's pretty strong and can make stuff outta' that goop she has, but cuz' she's weird she can mess up too sometimes."

So you're not the only one who noticed Emma's strange... tendencies. Unpredictable you suppose you'd describe it as, and you can certainly agree on her "messing up", to the extent of endangering others. Still, there's no denying that she is quite capable, but you'd never pegged her as the leader of whatever this group is, before.

"Sol, Sunstone is... well she's a super good fighter!"

Yep, she's the one you'd figured to be the leader, if even there was one to begin with. Odd though, how little Sarah speaks of her. By her hesitation, you can tell it's something of an uncomfortable subject for her, though you can only guess why.

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"There's Calcy too... Chalcedony, but I don't thinks the other gems like her. She ain't allowed outsides the house, and Sol said she don't want me alone with her. I hears them talk to her sometimes, it don't sound nice. I dunno, she's kinda' scary... like, Sol wants to look human and Emma tries, but Calcy don't even try."

Of course, how could you forget the big blue lady? You've seen her least of all, of any of the gems, but you have to agree with Sarah on her being scary. Or at least imposing, she definitely gives you a creepy vibe. You suppose if you were confined to a small house all day though, you too would be unpleasant. Honestly, probably more unpleasant than Chalcedony seems, so you figure she deserves some credit.

"And then there's me. My mom, Pearl, was a normal gem but not my dad. They both died when I's born though. I don't know a lot 'bout her, my uncle... and Sol took care of me as a baby, till I started living in the house with the other gems."

Well maybe not exactly what you were after, but definitely a lot of information to take in at once. You're not sure though if her response answered more questions than it raised. You wouldn't mind getting to the bottom of things, but you can tell it's straying into discomfort for her, and likely there's some things even she doesn't know the answer to. Still, it fills out the painting of the gems just a little more, while at the same time complicating it. You less than anyone has any right to judge, but you feel a bit more confident in your helping the gems. They can probably use all the help they can get.

>That's enough time spent, finish eating and pack up. You'd like to wait for Emma, but you can't wait all day, and have to keep moving.
>Have Sarah wait here, she can keep eating if she likes, while you go on ahead. The balcony seems about the safest place you've been in this place, and she can continue to wait for Emma.
>You'll wait as well. Besides, you still had another question or two, about the things she said perhaps. [Specify.]
>>Have Sarah wait here, she can keep eating if she likes, while you go on ahead. The balcony seems about the safest place you've been in this place, and she can continue to wait for Emma.
Do a little explorin, but not too much.
>>Have Sarah wait here, she can keep eating if she likes, while you go on ahead. The balcony seems about the safest place you've been in this place, and she can continue to wait for Emma.

The balcony so far at least, has proven to be about the safest location in this whole place. Given some of the difficulties faced thus far, you'd prefer not to continue along without Emma in case something else goes wrong, something dangerous. So against her protests about being left behind, you ask Sarah to wait here in case Emma catches up, while you go on to scout ahead.

"Not far, I'll just take a look and come right back."

"No fair, I wanna' go too."

At least it's more time for her to eat, as you chuck her the bag of trail mix before getting to your feet. Also nice that you won't have to carry the bag with you. So you head back towards the structure and the doorways along the balcony. The rounded one you can tell leads back to that staircase room you were in earlier, though the other two triangle-shaped entries look to lead the same way so you just pick the one on the left. The triangular hallway continues for a bit before sloping upwards and eventually opening up into a larger room, and looking across from where you emerge, you feel relief in seeing the other triangle hallway and better knowing that they did lead the same way.

This new room though is some ways a lot larger than the previous one. Maybe not as wide a much higher ceiling that looks like it actually opens up into the sky above if it weren't for all the plant overgrowth. Very much longer too, more like a long corridor rather than a chamber, and you start to notice similarities with the very first area you came into when you entered this whole complex to begin with. The same sort of murals and glyphs on the walls even, though by contrast it isn't pink in here and looks to be cut directly into the mountain stone.

"Hey Owen! Why'd you come in here? Outsides human ain't allowed."

You figure to continue on then and see where the corridor goes, but not more than a few paces along and you hear that same speaking sound from somewhere. Above, if you had to locate it, and you look up to try and find the source. It's somewhat intelligible now though, at least you can sort of understand what it is saying. It's very weird though, the manner it's speaking by. Almost like some of the different words are alternatively spoken two different ways, the same single voice but switching between two accents almost. One you quickly recognize, sounds like Sarah even. The outsides, and ain't allowed sound directly ripped from her talking about Chalcedony not a few minutes prior.

>Try to respond, maybe it's not just an automated message or system, or whatever?
>Just continue on, being wary of any other tricks or traps.
>Take a closer look at the corridor. Like the original one in appearance, but this one now with the opened ceiling, is much better lit.
>>Try to respond, maybe it's not just an automated message or system, or whatever?
It under stands that we are Owen.
>>Try to respond, maybe it's not just an automated message or system, or whatever?
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Much better than trying to learn about this place from the markings on the wall, something here is actually responding to you! That definitely makes things a lot easier, if it isn't just like, the equivalent of an answering machine or something. The only thing you're a little confused about, is where you should be talking to... or at it. Eventually you just try talking upwards and where the sound's coming from.

"Oh, hey... well we came in here because it's important? That's what I was told, I'm really only here just to help out. I didn't think anyone else would be here."

"Not anyone else would be here, I'm really only here just to help outsides with the important here. Two gems and two human though, this is not good! Owen is not far from the important though, I's try to hurt gems and help Owen!"

As you try to make sense of the voice and piece through what meaning you can, you realize it's starting to sound pretty ominous. If you'd guess this to be some sort of defense system, is that why it tried to separate you from the others? It must be confused with Sarah, counting her as a gem and a human for the total of two of each, so both helping and hindering her. It seems to have taken a preference to humans since you've progressed farther than Emma through this place, or maybe just because you wrote your name and got noticed first.

The sound that the system is going to try to hurt any gems though is more than a little worrying, since if it's counting Sarah in the "two" then she may also be in danger if things get worse. And no telling about poor Emma, wherever she must be. Before things start to get out of hand, you figure to just nip the problem in the bud.

"Ah well, uh... what's your name?"

"Anyone Else!"

That was a little predictable.

"Right, well Anyone, can you... like, disable any defenses, or just stop trying to hurt any gems?"

"I can't disable any defenses or just stop trying to hurt, because gems can be not far from important too. Human or gems has to get to the important to stop this."

You don't like the sound of that, almost like a race to... whatever is at the end, and whoever wins gets to disable this old system. Even worse that you're all split up now, and it's starting to sound like every moment could count if either the human or gem occupants of this place are in danger.

>Get back to Sarah, you can't leave her alone now that she could be a target of Anyone Else.
>As long as you stay ahead, you won't be at risk. At least you think. Take the chance to run, get to the end as fast as you can to disable everything.
>Try to bargain with, or maybe trick the system into helping you all out. Or at least not choosing favorites because you happened to get noticed first by writing your name.
Inform it that Sarah is with you, and then go to the important thing.

And possibly start saying words so it can get a bigger vocabulary.

Call it Echo, cause it echoes your words to convey it's message.



"Aren't you a Gem?"

It seems the best idea to get to the end and put a stop to all this as quick as you can, rather than risk getting split up again. The way ahead seems clear though so maybe it won't be that difficult after all. Before you take off into a run, you try to clear up the biggest concern first though.

"Ok I'll be going to the important thing... whatever it is, at the end. Don't hurt Sarah though, the one I just left behind. She's with me."

"No she ain't, she's left behind."

Well it was worth a try. Time to make good on your best skill, or at least the one everyone knows you for. You take off in a run, your footfalls echoing along the vast corridor.

Hey, that's a good name for it...


Some ten-odd minutes later, you can see the end of the corridor ahead. The sight of crystalline pink again, as another gem wall (and subsequent doorway) looms before you. Slowing down, you reduce your speed to a walk right as you reach the wall, and end the run by placing your hand against it for support while you catch your breath. A finish line if ever there was one.

"Owen ain't got no gem? I's a gonna' have that there door open quicker'n a cheetah on roller skates!"

Moving to lean your back against the wall so you can slide down to a sit, you rest and settle your heart rate, while examining the remaining door as it slowly begins to open. Reminiscent of the first door to get into the complex to begin with, all overgrown and worn with time, a slow and rough process as it opens. An easier time of understanding, or at least communicating with the voice though, as over the course of the run you timed calling out common words with your breathing. It seems Echo, as you also prompted it's name to change to, runs off of using words it has heard so a pretty easy effort just to start using any words you could think of for it to use.

"Hey Echo, I've been meaning to ask, but aren't you a gem as well?"

"No sirree! Wish'n that I was, but if I's a gem then Owen 'tis a one-branch juvember! The last carpetbagger what done frequent these here parts though, she was a gem, and I done learned to talk that there fanangled gem talk from her!"

Maybe you made a mistake in the words you chose to expand Echo's vocabulary. Given how it picked up some of Sarah's... less grammatical talk, you figured it would be funny to try and make the system sound like it had your (bad) attempt at Southern drawl. Now though it seems to have gone beyond a joke. Maybe Emma could fix it later, for now though, with the doors fully open you push yourself up off the ground and move to check out the opening. The sight is a little perturbing though; clearly some sort of elevator mechanism with ascending and descending around a center rail or axis, whatever you want to call it. Like the rest of this place though, it looks quite unstable and worn down overtime.

>Take the risk. Wait for a more stable platform and get on.
>Ask Echo to stop the mechanism, you'd feel safer trying to climb up the platforms in place than riding one moving.
>Maybe there's some other way up? The system did separate the group to begin with, just by raising the floor up like a pillar.
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Also for some reason it wouldn't let me post with an image on those.
>Ask Echo to stop the mechanism, you'd feel safer trying to climb up the platforms in place than riding one moving.
>>Ask Echo to stop the mechanism, you'd feel safer trying to climb up the platforms in place than riding one moving.
>Maybe there's some other way up? The system did separate the group to begin with, just by raising the floor up like a pillar.
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Majority wins it.


Looking at the state of the thing, you'd rather not risk it caving apart while you climb aboard. To be fair, you doubt it will be much more stable stationary if at all. Should any of the platforms give way while you're on them though, you'd rather the next one above or below was not also moving.

"Could you stop this thing from moving around Echo? I don't like the look of it, I'll climb up myself if I have to."

"Well I cain't recommend it as sich', but I reckon I kin' have it done lickity split!"

Thankfully as asked, the rotating platforms slow to a halt, the stopping process causing some broken pieces to crumble free. A reassuring sign no doubt, but it's a bit disconcerting as you approach and get a closer look to see that the platforms aren't actually connected to anything physically. Just free floating as they revolved along some unseen path, and now just sitting still in the air.

Well, climbing is kind of like running right? Also jumping.

Moving closer to the nearest and lowest platform, you nudge it a few times, test your weight on it and finally climb upon it. When broken pink sheet doesn't shatter beneath you, a sigh of relief follows as you look up to the next one. You feel your heart miss a beat when you, for the first time, are able to glimpse up and see just how high this thing goes. This could take awhile, and you can only pray they're all as stable as this one. The first platform, you could hop down off it, up by the top though, you don't expect to walk away form that kind of fall if they give out.

"Might as well start with the first one..."

Standing as high as you can, you can't quite reach the next platform above you, though a jump manages to do it. Thankfully with the way the next sheet is damaged (and all of them, really) you have an easier time climbing up than if they were in good condition and perfect-edged rectangles. With a huff and a puff, you are able to pull yourself up, now one platform higher.

Only... so many more to g- you know what, best to not think about it probably.


"Ain't nothin' but a couple left Owen! Mighta' been a lil' quicker to use 'em as normal, but it'n a chance to test 'em stable after these'n here years."

It's probably been at least a good half-hour, maybe more, that you've been climbing. As fast as you can, one platform after the other while trying not to risk falling. Definitely nothing like running and more strenuous for you at least, the only thing keeping you from collapsing for an exhausted rest is concern for Sarah with the supposed dangers of this place. And you don't even want to think about poor Emma, who probably was facing tricks and traps the entire time now, without any respite such as the balcony. At best you can hope she's only been partially totally destroyed.

"One... more... Echo... check please..."

Clamoring up to the final horizontal platform before they round the top of the mechanism and continue downwards, you're faced with solid ground just ahead and weakly jump to clear the gap. There's a door ahead, but enough space here and you use the chance to lie down and take a breather. All that running practice all the time, and no one can ever say you aren't a runner, but maybe some more generalized fitness would serve you better? Would that Sarah was tall enough to reach, you get the feeling she wouldn't be worn out as you are now.

"Yippie-kai-yay, you made it Owen! Just'n through them there doors and you're home free!"

Graciously the system even opens them a little, as with the doors below. It's quite dark here in the elevating room, or so you've taken to calling it, but through the doors you can see the light of sunset. Through windows even, if you're not mistaken.

>It was a tough ordeal, but this is the real finish line. Pick yourself up and head on in.
>It won't kill the others if you take but another minute or two just to catch your breath again. Well it might kill them, but you're sure they would understand.
>Ask Echo about the others, try and find out how they're doing if it can tell you.
>It was a tough ordeal, but this is the real finish line. Pick yourself up and head on in.
>>It was a tough ordeal, but this is the real finish line. Pick yourself up and head on in.
>It was a tough ordeal, but this is the real finish line. Pick yourself up and head on in.
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You're well worn out, but you'd like to just see this through, and get it over with. For Sarah and Emma's sake as much as yours. So pushing yourself to your feet, still breathing heavy you make for the door. In the darker room outside the light shining through is quite blinding so it takes a moment for your eyes to adjust once inside. Not as huge as the other chambers, maybe about the same rough size as the balcony but definitely an enclosed, round room. With some windows at the other side you can see the setting sun above the cloudline, casting the room in a warm orange light.

Pacing a little further in to get a look around, you also happen to notice the ceiling a ways above, quite an impressive dome softly illuminated around the rim and with some points of light upon it. Your observing though is cut short when the doors into the room slam shut behind. Naturally you walk back over to check it out, but like the other doors of this complex it lacks any handles or such for you to use.

"Well I do declare Owen is mighty spry for a human, but he's none too bright! I've gotcha' now like a cat in a cradle... and a sight easier to skin too."

Through Echo's speaking the room whirs to life with movement all around. No so much brighter, only dim floor lights and some sort of display in the center illuminate, but the place is definitely active now. Ominous too, as the layout shifts around a little to move the center display farther from you, and pointing various unfriendly looking implements at you.

"Now if'n you'd be so kind as to lay down, this'll be a sight easier... for me, havin' to clean up after, I think. My memory's a teensy bit fuzzy, but livin' bein's a this here planet make a right mess when they kick the bucket, right?"

Another light source, accompanied by a hum, as you see a little pair of prongs like a tuning fork lower from the ceiling. Between the prongs crackles some green-ish energy, now pointing in your direction.

And yet the thing most on your mind is, you can't help but wish you'd taken that break to catch your breath again before coming in here.

>Is this a joke? There must be some kind of mistake, try to reason with Echo.
>Be ready to evade if you have to, like your life depends on it. It may just.
>Try and trick the system, figure out how to deal with it if you can, while stuck in here.
See if you can get the attack thing to shoot the center console thingie.

You're not sure what to make of what's going on, a trick? A mistake? A betrayal? All you know is you're stuck in here with a security system, seemingly intent on eliminating you. And after all it took to get up here, you thought for once maybe you'd catch a break.

"Fine, don't lay down! Make my life harder'n it oughta' be- wait no, don't go gettin' outta' the way!"

Seeing the charging energy bolt pointed at you, you get ready to, and only barely dodge a sudden zap as it streaks past you. Scorching through your clothes and burning your skin a little, you wince at the burning smell but notice something interesting; a decently sized hole in the wall from the blast. Hearing the charging of another shot, your mind starts to race as you think of a way out of this, with what you have and what you know. The display console at the center of the room when you entered seemed important, important enough for Echo to move away from you to the other side. That seems like your best bet, if you can pull off a repeat of your dodge so that the energy shot hits the console instead.

So before another zapping bolt can fire, you try to get to your feet, but find yourself held back by a floor panel raising to snatch onto your jacket. You slip from it just in time to avoid another zap, much to Echo's annoyance, and struggle to your feet. First on your mind is the console as you make a dash for it, though seemingly prepared for your approach, the system is ready. Rotating, shifting, and changing the room around, Echo tries to put obstacles in your way like raised or lowered floor portions, more "grabbing" floor panels and even obvious traps like pitfalls. Once getting up to speed, you're agile enough to make it past them and even dodge the continual energy blasts from the ceiling shooter. Anytime you cross the center of the room though to reach the other side, Echo just rotates the outer rim of the room where the panel is, to get it away from you. As fast as you are, crossing the room while navigating the obstacles is too much for you to reach in time.

"Nuffa' this Owen! I'm fixin' to have you gone afore' the two gems get here, make this easy for alla' us!"

Dodging another zap, you quickly try to come up with a working solution before Echo does. You know if you got to the panel you could dodge another blast or even just hide behind it for the system to shoot it. Now if only you could get over there.

>Challenge Presented; Write-in needed to find a solution to the current problem.
Position yourself at the area where the outer ring is next to the inner ring. When it fires, it should take a chunk out of both rings. This damage might cause friction between the rings causing the outer ring to slow or even seize up. Then we can just dash roll to the panel.
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If Echo is going to keep rotating the outer portion of the floor, then the easiest thing seems to be preventing it from rotating or at least slowing it. Nothing you have on you can damage... well, anything in this room as far as you can tell. The earlier energy blast though, the hole in the wall you remember. Even better that the way the floor is tiered, you can position yourself between the higher and lower portion.

So trying to avoid the traps, and getting grabbed by parts of the room, you attempt to get Echo to fire at you and hit the difference in the floor portions. It takes several tries to get it right, but you dodge even a few more than you'd initially planned for good measure. By the time you're done, which is basically when your dodging attempts are getting sloppier and you get burned again, the meeting point between the two floor tiers looks like Swiss cheese. That's about the best you can hope for, and having lost your shoes to floor grabbers, you don't really have any more chances. Hoping for the best, you take off in a run again for the console at the far side of the room, trying to avoid the traps. Your exposed feet get jabbed pretty bad by floor spikes, but you muster all you've got left to try and power through it.

As you near the other side, again Echo attempts to rotate the outer rim of the room. With all the damage done where you'd been though, you're suddenly knocked off balance and hit the floor, because now both portions of the floor rotate together. Stuck by the jagged damage where the energy blast punched holes. It's not even harder for the system to hit you since everything is spinning, but that's just fine to you because from your perspective the console is remaining still.

"Now wait just one cotton-pickin' finger-lickin' minute Owen! You wouldn't lay me low after all we been through together, right?!"

Maybe as expected, Echo tries to reason with you for its own sake, as you approach the console and the shots are flying wildly about the room trying to hit you. Same with the traps, though you're too close not to be stopped. Moving up to the raised portion, the gem console right in front of you, it's rather confusing and beyond your understanding. One thing that seems obvious though is the bright green triangle-crystal protruding from the display, and flashing in time with Echo's speaking. The system even tries to speed up the room's rotation to throw you away, but you simply grab onto the console and wrap a hand around the flashing block.

"There'ya are, right where I want'cha. C'ain't move around none now, can ya'? Now you let go a' me, easy as you please, and we can... talk about this, yep'm."

As you grab onto the glowing block, another energy blasting set of prongs extends from behind the console in front of you, pointed right at you. In a last-ditch attempt, now in self-preservation, Echo initiates a Mexican stand-off of sorts to keep you from removing the crystal block.
>You didn't come this far to stop now. Risk getting shot in order to remove the block.
>Try to get some answers for Echo, and what all this was for.
>Threaten the system with removal to try and make it fall in line, submit to your authority.
>>You didn't come this far to stop now. Risk getting shot in order to remove the block.
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Page 11! Hate to have to do a cliffhanger ending but I don't think it will be able to be concluded before the thread drops off the board! Will try to provide some closure in the next thread, or at least describe what happened. So until then,

>Credits Roll


On a separate note, over the course of this thread marked the one year anniversary of the quest, so huge thanks to everyone for playing, and I hope you've enjoyed things so far! I hope to continue and make things better and better.

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