TLDunn213

Grendel 621

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I awakened, Alone and in darkness.

I waited. Someone will come and tell me my purpose, Give me a mission, a goal, And the tools and information need to carry it out.

But no one came.

I searched my mind for information, For purpose, For Anything.

There were gaps, holes, places where information should go. But thankfully all was not emptiness.

I was Grendel 621. An ID tag more than a name. Names would be provided, if needed. 

Tools; I could see, even in the darkness of the empty room in which I lay. I knew language, The names of things, How things worked. 

I had a purpose, of sorts. Observe, Learn, Remember, Analyze. 

My analysis of this told me that it was meant as a sub-directive to be related to an on going mission.

If no ongoing mission, Gather useful information, Survive, Return to Base.

If Primary Base compromised or abandoned seek closest active base.

A purpose. Yes. Not much of one, but enough.

 

I sat up and looked around. The room was a cube about 10 feet on each side. Containing myself, The table I was sitting on, Stale air, and darkness.

I got off the table to inspect it better. There were faintly glowing Runes around the edge. A now failing Stasis Spell. Instinctively I reached out with a tongue of Shadow Flame from my hand and drained the last bits of magic from it. A tool I hadn't known I had until then. I looked at my hands. Claw like nails, Sharp, Dangerous, and able to inject a Venom that would grant the subject Fast Healing and pain resistance while also making them very open to my commands. Useful, if there were people around to use it on.

At the foot end of the table was a metal plate "Grendel 621". Conformation of existing information. I thought about taking it with me, but realized I had no practical way of carrying it. I lacked clothing or even a utility harness. A lack I had not noticed until now as my scales and fur had been adequate covering in the closed room.

A quick examination lead me to the remaining point of interest, The door. A smooth slab of stone with only a faint seam separating it from the wall. Then I found the small rectangle off to one side. I released some of the Magic from the table into it, and was rewarded with a faint grinding noise and slight movement of the door. I applied more power and the door rose about a foot off the floor. As this was enough space to get out I chose to save the little bit of Power I had left and slid under the door. On a last second impulse I grabbed the ID tag from the table, It might be useful for something later.

 

 

Edited by TLDunn213
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The room beyond the door was larger and far more equipped, a full working lab. Just as long and thoroughly abandoned as I had expected. 

Whoever my makers were they had left in haste, but not in panic. Everything that had been left behind had been put away neatly. Light Crystals, for example had been taken from their sockets and placed in storage boxes to preserve their magic.

I drained several to improve my personal store of magic and placed a few more in the pocket of lab coat I'd found. It wasn't much but the pockets gave me a way to keep a few things with me and still have my hands free.

 

Beyond the lab to the north were sleeping quarters with bathing/sanitary chambers to the left and cooking/dining facilities to the right and an alcove and ascending stairway straight ahead. That it was north was just something I knew with out knowing how I knew it. 

The sleeping quarters proved a treasure trove. A tunic and hooded cloak of some grayish brown material. (Yes, I used one of the light crystals to look.) A knife that someone had dropped behind one of the beds. There were traces of magic about it that seemed to center around an empty socket in the pommel where a gem might go. I resolved to search for the gem later as I had found a greater treasure. A belt pouch of holding. The spell weave on it was faint and fading but intact. I sat down on one of the beds and carefully probed the weave with my shadow fire. Which turned silver as I reversed the flow and started slowly feeding power into the weave. I would not have been able to build such a weave from scratch even after the time I spent studying this one, But to know one, to recharge, and even fix minor breaks... Yes, these skills I now had.  Two treasures in one find, a useful magic item and a new skill. 

The work also lead me to the first real problem in my new life; hunger. Which lead to discovering the kitchens and their complete lack of food.  I sensed that I could sustain myself on magical energies if I had to; but there were only so many magical items down here to drain, and using magic this way was inefficient and wasteful.

 

Edited by TLDunn213

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Having reached the conclusion that I would have to venture forth into the world beyond, I endeavored to equip myself as best I could from what was available.

Food, the prime reason for going forth in the first place. Even so I gathered as many of the light crystals as I could find and concentrated their magic into about a dozen crystals. Not really food, but they could serve; and they might be useful in other ways.

And thus to tools. Apart from the clothing I was now wearing and the dagger with the missing gem; there wasn't much to find. Test tubes and beakers were not likely to be useful where I was going. I did take one of the chill plates from one of the refrigerators wrapped in a couple of layers of cloth. Wasn't sure what I'd use it for. But if nothing else I could study the spell weave on it, and In a pinch I could "eat" it.

Add a blanket from one of the beds, and pack everything in the belt pouch of holding and I was as prepared as I could get under the circumstances.

And so, onward and upwards.

 

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I climbed, and climbed. How long I could not say. While I had the words for time; minutes, hours, days, and so on; I had no way of marking their passage. I climbed, rested, and climbed some more. During the third rest I metabolised some of my stored magic. My bodily energies were replenished but the feeling of hunger, the need to truly eat something was unabated; if anything it grew stronger.

I wondered about this as I climbed, having nothing else to occupy my mind. It was as if I missed eating. But how could that be ? How could I miss something I had never known ?  I had no memories before my awaking on the table, and yet... I knew things; things that one would have little reason to program into a synthoid. Including my intuition about having such knowledge and intuition. 

My musings were interrupted by my arrival at the top of the stairs. A small alcove with a three person sleeping chamber beyond. Small cooking chamber to one side, sanitary room to the other, and a watch post straight ahead.  I checked the cooking chamber first. No food. But several containers of water. I tasted it a then drank deeply. I hadn't known thirst until I tasted the water, but once I did... I can find no words to fully express that experience; you will simply have to imagine as best you can.

With thirst slaked I was left with hunger and a need for sleep. And with beds close by a food an unknown...

 

 

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I awoke sometime later needing to use the sanitary chamber. Having taken care of the need which awakened me I explored further and discovered that the plumbing for the bathing unit was also functional and that soap, towels, washcloths, and so on were all available. I retrieved what I needed and added some extra energy to the stasis spell holding the rest. Surprisingly it was in much better shape than the ones below had been.

I wondered about this as I used the facilities, and about how natural and routine that use seemed. Unless I were being prepared for a covert operation, why include such skills ?

There was something about all this that lurked in my mind just beyond reach. I set the problem aside. The needed information would turn up sooner or later; and until then dwelling on it was a waste of energy.

And that brought me back to my ongoing problem, food.

 

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Having already discovered the lack of food in the cooking chamber that left only the guard post, and the world beyond. There was a closed two panel door separating the actual guard post from the living quarters. And when I feed power into the locking mechanism an illusion spell was activated as the door opened. Allowing me to observe the room beyond while hiding the fact that anything had changed from anyone in the chamber beyond. This spell was also in better repair than the ones below, leading me to conclude that guards had remained for sometime after the lower chambers had been abandoned.

The outer chamber itself looked like a natural cave and once the doors closed I would have been hard pressed to find them again if I didn't already know exactly where to look.

Once that bit of information was imprinted in my memory I turned to exploring the rest of the cave. 

Someone, likely not my makers, had been using the cave as a camp or way station for sometime. There was a fire pit close to the cave mouth with a pile of sleeping furs a bit further back and off to one side. And against the wall on the other side were an assortment of clay pots and woven baskets. Which, as expected held dried fruits, meats, and other assorted foodstuffs. And, in the case of some jugs to the back, some fermented drink that I didn't like the smell or taste of. 

So I went back for a couple of containers of water and some cooking pots. And even took one of the spell powered cooking plates from the stove. The spell weave would be worth studying. Then I set up camp in the cave. And had my first meal.

I'm not going to bother trying to describe that stew of dried meat and grains. Looking back on it now, it was one of the blandest meals I've severe eaten. But at the time it was the richest most savory mix of flavors I had ever known.

The ashes in the fire pit had been cold before I started a new fire with some of the twigs and wood I found behind the food catch. So no one had been here for at least a few days. 

As to why I chose to camp in the cave with beds close by... All I can say is it felt right. Something about meeting whoever was using this cave on a more even footing. Along with a reflexive desire to keep the hidden complex I'd come from, well, hidden.

 

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I like it. It is the kind of story i would find myself in if i was wandering and i happen to find a csve,  it reminds me of scenes from star trek shows and doctor who shows. 

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With hunger satisfied and no real reason to expect anyone to turn up anytime soon; I opted to go out and explore the wider world. 

There were a few reasons for doing so. First was a need for more information. I knew nothing about where I was. No maps in my mind or the complex I'd come from. And without such information there was no way to follow the directive to seek the closest active base; assuming any such still existed.

So while that directive was a factor, it was a rather weak one. My remaining reasons were a mix of pragmatism and good manners. The food catch here wouldn't last forever, and it's common courtesy to restock a way station after use, if one is able to do so.

This felt like an ingrained habit, rather than a programmed directive; Strange. One more item pointing to a past life. Interesting if true, But not something I could do anything about just now. So I set it off to the side in my mind; a puzzle needing further information; and set about exploring.

I chose to make firewood my first objective. I wasn't in any great need of it but the needed looking around to find it would fill my mind with a large catch of raw data that I could sort after I returned with both firewood and a successfully completed task.

 

Edited by TLDunn213

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It was early morning, an hour or so after sunrise, gray and overcast with a light mist of rain and the sent of early springtime in the air. Another skill, this reading of the weather, that felt more like a lifelong habit than programming. 

As I stepped out of the cave and  fully into the damp my body adapted, my scales sliding out from under each other so as to cover my fur.

Scales shed water better than fur, which can have a giveaway oder when wet. Had it been cold rather than damp my scales would have moved the other way to give me a more insulating cover of fur on top. As this knowledge came to my mind so too came the awareness that I could mentally override my body's natural reactions if need be.

I didn't bother analyzing the matter further, as it was enough to know I could at that point.

Even as I was making these discoveries about myself my eyes had been scanning for firewood, food, danger, and any other information that might prove useful. 

The dead tree a few hundred yards ahead, to the right, was likely to have a good supply of fallen branches under it. Assuming that it wasn't the source of the wood already in the cave. But even then there was a good chance of there being enough left to be worth the trip and where there was deadwood there was also a good chance of finding eatable fungi.

Again, a certain feeling that I would know the safe fungi on sight, even though I could find no data file in my mind relating to foraging for food. 

Edited by TLDunn213

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As I drew closer to my chosen tree I saw that one of its neighbors had fallen, creating a fair sized basin about half full of water. I hadn't brought anything to carry water in, but it was still worth checking if the water was good. As I was leaning down over the pool to scoop up a handful there came a snarl from above and a Slider Beast leaped down aiming right at me. I lashed out with my Shadow Fire even as I lost my balance and fell into the pool. 

It was deeper than I'd expected, and hard to get out of due to the rain making everything slippery. Once I was ashore again I looked around, berating myself for not doing so before. As a watering hole like this was an obvious ambush site. The Slider Beast was on the ground, dead. Desiccated in fact, and I felt a new level of vitality flowing through me. Clearly my Shadow Fire had drained its life force as well as its magic. 

A fast and effective way to feed. Yet I felt repulsed by what I had done, as if it were an unclean, unnatural thing. And at the same time it felt totally natural; even good. As if this was how I was meant to feed. 

Further proof, as if I needed it, of my dual nature. A past life as a "normal" person, and this new life given to me by my unknown makers. Finding out more about them had just become much more important to me.

More important, but, at the moment, no more achievable. So I turned my attention to the body of the creature I had slain.

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It was young, not quite full grown, about a year and a half old. Just old enough to be striking out on its own and learning how to use its displacement abilities. Had it been full grown and skilled with its abilities I doubt I could have killed it so easily. I would need to be more careful in the future. As I looked at the body I wondered if the meat had any food value left. The skin was clearly dried out and leathery. I tried stabbing into it with my claws. And was rewarded with a spray of blood as I slashed open its belly. I grabbed the sides of the wound and heaved ripping the body open. The heart, lungs, and so on all looked fresh. I pealed away some more of the skin to look at the meat along the side; also fresh. It looked like it was the shock of being drained more than the draining itself which killed it. 

I slashed away some more of the skin and then ripped away a strip of flesh about two inches wide by about six long. Then I called the Shadow Fire to my hand and started draining it. Energy flowed into me and the meat started drying out, taking on the look of jerky. I stopped at that point and took a bite.  Chewy, not too dry, and not as flavorless as I had feared. Young Slider Beast it seems are good eating.  Waste not, want not. And so I took a few minutes removing the guts and tossing them away from the watering hole and deeper into the forest.  With that done I climbed a nearby tree and simply held the carcass by the back legs, after slashing the throat, and waited for the rest of the blood to drain out. It didn't take long, as I used a bit of my Shadow Fire to help things along. Once it was no longer dripping blood, I threw it over my shoulders and headed back to the cave. I could then cut it into strips and dry them; some over the fire pit and some with my Shadow Fire. I wanted to compare the results and see if there were any differences worth noting. 

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As I had not planned on hunting, except for firewood, when I set out I had none of the things needed for smoking the meat I now had. And so I spent a few hours gathering those items and setting them up. I found an open space not too far from the cave that would allow me enough room to make a large drying rack over a bed of coals. The sticks and vines needed to make the drying rack took longer to find and put together than anything else. But by around midday I was ready to start tearing the meat into strips.

As I progressed I realized I had no real plan for the rest of the beast. That is, the parts that would not yield enough meat to be worth the trouble it would be to try and strip it off as well as the bones, hide and so on.

As I was pondering this it came to me that I could use my Shadow Fire on the leftover bits. Not a Magic or Life drain but something along the same line. Having learned to trust my instinctive impulses I ripped the skull free from the body and placed it on a nearby flat rock. Then began draining it with my Shadow Fire. As I did the term Essence Drain came to mind. Even as I felt the Essence coalescing somewhere within me. The skull was reduced to dust which blew away by the time I felt I had gained a full unit of Slider Beast Essence. I disposed of the rest of the nonfood bits the same way.  And ended with about five units of Essence when I was finished.

I wasn't entirely sure what I could do with this Essence but resolved to meditate on it before sleeping. Which I would be doing soon as drying the meat, and everything that went with it had taken most of the day. So that by the time I was done putting the meat and leftover firewood away it was getting dark.

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I lit a fire. I didn't really need it for warmth as my body had shifted from scaly to hairy now that I was out of the damp. I didn't really need it for light either as my ability to see in the dark would doubtless serve me better on that count. But I wanted it, just to have something to focus on as I cleared my mind. And so seated on a bedroll with my back to the wall I gazed into the flames. My mind emptied. Then a map started forming. The cave, the woods, the pool where I'd killed the Slider Beast. Then the bit of stream coming down from the hills I'd noticed in the distance. Then the plume of smoke I hadn't noticed, coming from a point partway up that hillside. Small smoke plume, Small fire, and most likely People. Had they seen the smoke from my all day fire ?

Very likely.  Would they come to investigate ? Maybe, But unlikely.  If they were going to they likely would have already. 

So traffic through here was common and likely somewhat erratic.  

But sooner or later someone would come. How would they react to me ?

If hairy, I might be taken for a beast or a Wylding given that I was wearing a cloak and tunic. No footwear. Strange, now that I thought about it. Clothing had been left in the complex below, but not one bit of footwear; Strange.

But not important at the moment.

Scaly, Maybe I could pass as one of the Lizard Folk. Not much better. Most places Lizard Folk avoided the other races and were mistrusted by them in return. 

A problem, but not one I could do anything about just now.

The map filed itself away in my mind for later study and my mind went blank as my need for rest overcame my desire for reflection and information.

 

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My eyes opened. The fire was just a bed of glowing embers now; but it had been a small fire to start with. So only a few hours had passed. Yes, it was still dark outside. Overcast, with the Moon somewhere close to new. How I knew that last bit I couldn't say as I'd had no clear view of the sky since my first awakening. Yet I knew it was true, just as I'd known which way was North while still below ground.

It was around Midnight, both logic and my inner instinct told me so. What they weren't telling me was why I was awake. I listened for any sounds that might warn of impending danger...

Nothing. 

So, why was I awake and feeling fully rested after only 4 hours of meditation; when I'd slept for close to 8 hours the night before ?

Meditation; yes, and I'd feed by way of my Shadow Fire today; deeply. While the day before I'd eaten food and gone to sleep.

My new nature vs my former life.

My new self was made to feed by way of  Shadow Fire, on the move with just a few hours meditation for sorting information and rest before moving on. My former self had lived as a trained Hunter/Woodsman able to eat on the move and sleep light. But my makers, (retoolers ?) had given me an upgrade beyond what training could provide.  Had I volunteered for this, or been Press ganged into it ?

Somehow the later seemed more likely, as it would be a reason for so little of my former life remaining in my mind. 

 

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Now that I was awake and fully rested what to do ?

Explore. The people I assumed to be connected to the smoke I'd spotted earlier would likely be asleep now. So I should be able to find a good observation post without being noticed.

And so, I packed up the things I should need for a day or two of skulking and spying.  I wanted to know as much as possible about the people living here before revealing myself.  It seemed likely that I'd been modified to be a combatant in some war, or the like. But as I'd been left on the shelf, as it were, the war could well be over. With the side that made me not having come out on top. So one reason to expect a hostile reaction. On the other hand I had no clear idea of how long I'd been left down there. The war I'd been made for could be so long ago that no one would even know what I was.

By the time I'd finished with these cheerful, and largely pointless reflections, I'd finished gathering my supplies and set out.

The darkness was no problem for me and nothing predatory took any notice of me. Likely the Slider Beast had driven off anything likely to be competition.

And so after a long but uneventful hike; I  found myself on the edge of the woods looking at a log cabin built against the side of a hill. Small garden patch off to one side, with a henhouse and an animal pen beyond.

As it was getting close to dawn I reached out with some of the Slider Beast Essence and probed the hillside for open spaces large enough to hold me. It took longer than I would have liked, but I was rewarded with a chamber ideally suited to my needs.

The builders of the cabin had blocked off part of a larger cave giving me a large room on the other side of the back wall of their pantry. A wall I could "slide" through when I wished. And the pantry door itself had a gap with its frame just at eye level which gave an excellent view of the entire cabin.

And so I settled in to spy on my neighbors and learn what I could of them and the world in which they lived.

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I had to abandon my "ideal" spy post almost at once as the cabin's inhabitants started going about their day. It seems the larder I was hiding in was more of an attached spring house and frequently used. I did make one useful, or at least interesting, discovery. I knew more than one language. The one I'd been thinking in and the one these people were speaking. Now that I knew to reflect on it the names of these tongues came easily to mind. The spoken language I was hearing was called the common tongue. Although it was heavily accented compared to what my former self had known. Whether this was due to geographic or temporal distance was a question I would need more information to answer. 

The other language, the one I'd been thinking in, and had likely been given, was Yuun-Xi. Which is also the name of the race that used it. So now I knew who my makers most likely were.  This explained a number of things. The lack of shoes, for example. Seeing as many Yuun-Xi have no feet, and those that do are well equipped with naturally thick scales on the soles making further covering unnecessary in most cases. 

 

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