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TLDunn213

Quill-Bearer
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Everything posted by TLDunn213

  1. Garm lay under the enchanted wolfskin cloak with the stones of the not quite dry streambed pressing into his belly. Which helped distract him from the feel of Anna's body pressing into his back and side. Now was not the time for that sort of thing. Not with a Naazz, cloaked and mounted, scanning the landscape for you less than fifty yards away. Taking out the one at Old Tom's cabin had been a mistake. But how was he to know that there was a whole Fist of them out there. Only eight of them left now; and he longed to make it seven. But that was Tom and Tanis' job; leading the Naazz away. As if in answer to his thoughts, the Naazz jerked in his saddle and galoped of to the northeast. "Now's our chance." He said scrambling out from under the cloak and quickly settling it on Anna's shoulders. A Word of Power, and she was dropping to the ground on all fours. A moment later and a pair of gray wolves were bounding away to the South.
  2. TLDunn213

    The Naazz

    The Naazz are the latest weapon/agent to be added to the Necromancer side of the Necromancer/Druid Wars. I say Wars rather than just War due to the common view that the war was won when the Yun-Xi were defeated with the help of the Wyrdlings. Which is true, as far as it goes. Necromancy became a hidden secret branch of Magic after that. Until the rise of the Litch Lords and the other free undead. Along with their newest servants, the Naazz. So, what are they already, you ask ? Well, they are to Litch Lords what Dracons are to Dragons. More or less. That is to say they are living beings bound to a powerful undead Necromancer able to partake of their master's undead nature and powers without the related weaknesses of being undead. Spells and Wards that work on Evil effect them normally, but Spells that target Undead specifically have little or no effect. At best their Naazz powers are suppressed and the mindlink to their master and fellow Naazz is blocked. Which is better than nothing but given that most Naazz are powerful spell casters and warriors even without the added benefit of their Naazz powers... As they have been compared to Dracons the question of whether they can go Ronan has naturally been raised. And so far there is no clear answer. There are no reports of Ronan Naazz and Undead Essence is not the same as Dragon Essence. But given that most Naazz are powerful Necromancers in their own right it is likely that they would be able to keep most of their Naazz powers even if their Master were destroyed or the Naazz Bond were broken in some other way. So far only the Litch Lord Angmar has produced Naazz in noteable numbers. The Bone Troopers of the Dread Emporior being a different sort of half-undead and so not useful for this line of speculation. We are left waiting for more information to become available.
  3. TLDunn213

    Wyrdlings

    It has been said that Wyrdlings were created as a counter measure to the Grendels; but this isn't really the case. Wyrdlings are reported in several places months before the first recorded encounter with a Grendel. This is not to say that Wyrdlings were not effective against Grendels; they were Very effective. And not just against Grendels. They were, arguably, the most effective countermeasure to the Yun-Xi weapons program as a whole. And one of the key factors in winning the war as well. For those of you who are not up to speed on all this. I'll cover Wyrdlings here, and you can learn about Grendels and the War as a whole from my other writings. The main reason for Wyrdlings was as a way to counter the Yun-Xi practice of making weapons out of our troops without having to take the time to train Spellcasters up to the levels needed for the most effective countermeasure spells. And yes creating Artifacts is one way to deal with that problem. And it was tried. But, Artifacts have to be recharged and repaired by trained Wizards; of a higher level of skill, than what is needed to just cast the spells in the first place. Living Artifacts; and that is what Wyrdlings are (as are Wyldings, Lycains, Grendels, and so on for that matter.) have several advantages over the regular sort. Being alive, their Energies renew over time. And if they fall into enemy hands they can attempt to escape before they can be studied or corrupted. And, given their powers it would be quite hard for the Yun-Xi to take a Wyrdling captive in the first place. First of all there is their Disruption ability. Which not only cuts off Undead from their environment but also blocks the Yun-Xi from using their Mind Web abilities. So the Yun-Xi troops have no way to get power or orders. This was totally devastating to the early types of Undead, which would collapse on the spot. Of course this lead to the Yun-Xi placing Rune Stones into their later types of Undead and Corrupting living beings. Of course this lead to the next Wyrdling ability, Restoration. Which does basically what it sounds like. Restoring the mind of a Corrupted being to it's former state. Of course this didn't always work on the Undead, as there wasn't enough mind left to be restored. And this lead to the Third Ability, Supplant Control. Which is exactly what it sounds like. And that is where the problems started, Wyrdlings ordering about enemy troops, both Undead and living including some lower rank Yun-Xi; lead some people to wonder if the Wyrdlings wouldn't become corrupted by the lure of Dark Magic. And, Sadly, some did. What most people don't seem to want to understand is that usurping control of someone or something that is already being controlled is much simpler than taking control of a free mind in the first place. Very few Wyrdlings were ever able to do that. And several of those that did played a key role in the winning of the War, by taking control of key members of the Yun-Xi Highcomand.
  4. The gargoyle flew away before I could bind it again. As I was watching it fly away I spotted two Styx Gollums taking up position on the other bank. I put up a shield, for the little good it would likely be. I didn't think they could reach us with their spray at this range, but better not to take chances. The real question was; how to cross with them there. The Styx is tricky enough without being shot at while trying to cross it. Yerico looked like she was getting ready to try it anyway; as she already had Kabaru in the water and was calling for the rest of us to get on board. "What about the Golems?" I ask as I ran up the gangplank. "You'll see." She said pointing to a high window in the Fortress, as we shoved off into the current. It took me a moment, but then I saw her. Just as she let loose with a blast of draconic ice-fire turning one of the Styx's Gollums into an ice sculpture. I took out the other one with a blasting spell as it was turning around. And Latara launched herself out of the window. A large Tome clutched to her chest. Moments later, she was on the deck and we were heading back to shore.
  5. Poundfoolish lurked in the hallway outside of the Wabe, at one with the darkness. It worked. The plan had worked. Zatar had gotten the Egg and hatched it. And now there was a Bandersnatch hatchling just waiting to be posisesed. Oh what a lovely deadly form to wear. Well, once it was a bit more grown up. But that would take care of itself. The real kink in the plan was that blasted Gargoyle. If only that dottering old janitor hadn't wandered into the Gribble pens before the spell had finished melting into the Portal. Ahh well. The rest of the plan had worked beautifully, and Zatar was enough of a showman to want to show off his new prize at some point. And then it would just be a matter of slipping in with the crowd. Maybe a Suggestion Shard to put the Gargoyle guarding the Gribble pens during the tour... Maybe. But a second Shard might remind Zatar of the first one and lead to his investigating things far more closely than would be safe. No, better to just watch and wait for now. And so, Poundfoolish settled deeper into the shadows to wait.
  6. The egg rocked; lay still for a little while; and then rocked again, harder and faster. There was a crackling noise and cracks began to appear. Zatar opened his eyes to watch. The omen spell hadn't been able to give a hatching time closer than 48 hours. So he'd been catnaping in a recliner next to the incubator for over a day now. Sure he could have left Gus to watch the egg and all. But, being there for the first recorded hatching of a Bandersnatch egg... He checked the recorder. Running, having started as soon as the egg began to move. Gus entered the room with a breakfast tray just as the egg rocked again and split down the middle. "Ah, perfect timing." Zatar said as he opened the cover of the incubator "Now, let's see if these guys are enough like dragons to be impressed." Gus took the lid off a plater on the tray revealing a pile of assorted chunks of raw meat. Zatar took a chunk and dropped it into the hatchling's open mouth. The hatchling chewed twice and swallowed, then looked up for more. Ten minutes, and about half the pile of meat, later the Bandersnatch hatchling was curled up in a ball sleeping. "Did it work ?" Gus ask, settling himself in the other chair. "I think so. But it's a bit hard to tell. The bond isn't nearly as strong as what is reported for Dragons. And Rasputin was using spells, So, nothing there as far as natural bonding goes." "But he hadn't done anything to it's mind; so the mental strength rating should be about right?" Gus observed. "Yes. And it checks out, along with the expected emotions. All well and good as far as it goes; but we're about as far along as the notes go."
  7. As we advanced through the graveyard the Styx's fog grew thicker and the grave markers loomed larger. Soon becoming full sized Gargoyles. One moved; and I threw a basic Binding Spell over it. A couple of quick spells later and we had a scout flying off into the Fog, as I fell back to the middle of our little group. Seeing through the Gargoyle's eyes would rather limit my ability to keep track of what was going on around me; but the tradeoff was well worth it. As I was able to take out three other Gargoyles before they even knew were there. There was no way of knowing who or what they were working for; if anyone. I hadn't found any spells on the one I was using. But still, better not to take chances. And then we were there. And right across from the island we were looking for. And there on the bank facing us was a Styx's Gollum. I cast a Binding Spell at it through the Gargoyle. Which it blocked with a spray of Styx's Water. Knocking it out of the air and wiping away my spells. But this distracted it enough for Targon to split it in half with that monster axe of his. So much for stealth. Someone, or at least some thing knew we were there. If we are lucky it is just the automated defenses from back in the day. But even then Some One could be on their way to see what had tripped the alarms.
  8. I stood under an old maple tree across the road from the graveyard wrapped in my cloak of shadows waiting for the others to arrive. The first I spotted was Targon. He came walking down the road not even trying to hide. I thought about it for a moment and decided that in his case this mightbe the better option. After all if you are spotted trying to hide you are more likely to be remembered than if you're just walking along out in the open. When I looked back Hawk and Kain were standing by the graveyard gate and Yerico was stepping out of the trees by the corner of the wall. I pulled back my cowl and stepped forward to join them, thinking that Targon was sharper than I'd given him credit for. By walking openly down the road, not only was he likely to be only lightly remembered but the rest of us were all the more likely to go totally unnoticed. Hawk and Kain had seen me coming and had a brazier set up on either side of the graveyard gate by the time I reached them. I took my place in the center and began the Chant as they tossed incense on the glowing coals. Yerico was doing a lesser fog spell, but by tying it to mine the fog gained the memory clouding effects of the Styx's fog we'd all be dealing with once we finished crossing. A clever move on her part. Not only would this cover our tracks from any locals who might have been around, but it was also an easy way to check that our protective charms were working. The Smoke and Mist swirled together over the graveyard gate making strange complex patterns. I spoke the final Word of the spell and the magical smog froze in place overlaying the graveyard gate which swung open with eerie silence. The rest of the Styx's fog we'd created rolled and boiled around us as it flowed tword the banks of the Styx which now lay waiting at the far end of the graveyard.
  9. Angry Flowers lie in wait Alluring scent, enticing bait Colors that beguile the eye All of it a cunning lie Angry Flowers lie in wait Toxic nectar dripping hate While spiteful thorns accentuate And joyful moods evaporate Flee before it is too late When Angry Flowers lie in wait. ******* Next line: Fairy Dust upon the wind
  10. We spent the afternoon going over maps, both of the part of the Styx we expected to be going to and the local area between where we were and the Graveyard we were planing to use as our gateway. Which still left us with a few hours to fill before it was late enough to go skulking off. Kain, Targon, and Hawk spent some time sparing while the rest of us selected spells likely to be useful against Styx Golems and whatever else we might run into along the way. I prepared a couple of Sleep spells just in case we were spotted by any locals. A bit of a risk, as nothing along the Styx would be effected by such spells and they would be just taking up slots once we crossed over, but still...
  11. A long shot I had no way of following up on just now, but still worth thinking about later. In the short term there were a number of spells in Isaac's book that were well worth learning. It took me longer than I would have liked to copy them into another book. But it was far safer to make the copy than just take the original. After all I didn't want my presence discovered before I was ready. One spell in particular could solve my observation problem; assuming I could manage to cast it. It was a lookout spell, used to allow the ship's captain to take a look at different parts of the ship without having to leave his cabin. Just the thing. And there was a second spell for talking to different parts of the ship as well. I'd need to be careful using that one, as the talking was two way. But that would be a minor matter. The bigger problem would be finding a crystal for the center piece of the spell. The light crystals I'd taken from the complex would be perfect for the "eyes". It was after dark before I set out to get all the things I'd need to get from the Complex. But, maybe that was for the best. After all there was no reason to assume that other people weren't around to notice me. And for now that was a thing I felt it better to avoid.
  12. As I had hoped Isaac had been a ship's Magus and not only had he kept his log books but also his spell books. I hadn't even thought of those; but once I found them I saw that here was a possible answer to several minor problems. Gate spells and scrying spells being the bulk of a ship's Magus' duties; if I could master a few of these, then both my observation and coming and going issues would be solved. Grendels, may not have been designed to be spell casters, per say; but we had the ability. Or at least I did, along with some knowledge of the Art left over from my former life. I hadn't been a great spell caster before, and wasn't likely to become one now, but I could manage the spells I needed; with some practice. I was also in luck in terms of information about time. In his journals Isaac made several references to duties that were leftover from "the war". That he found irksome, and pointless, given that "the war" had ended over 30 years ago. So, guessing Isaac at around 60 years old now, and likely in his 20s then, I'd been down there for 70 years or more. Long enough that fear of the Grendels should have faded somewhat. Long enough that most of the people I might have known in my former life would be dead. But, maybe not all. If I had been a Ranger, then I was likely trained by Elves... A long shot, but a possibly.
  13. I perked up at this news; my hosts were going away and would not be back until late the following day. This would give me ample time to set up housekeeping in the cave, and explore the house and grounds for a solution to my observation problem. And if the father, Isaac, had been a ship's Magus he might have journals that could give me a more accurate measure of how long I'd been down there after the Base had been abandoned. And the arrival of "Elizabeth" from foreign lands could also offer opportunities to learn about local history and customs. So much to learn. But, here was a wonderful opportunity; and all it required at the moment was patients. Which I found I had less of than expected. But, finally, they were on their way. I forced myself to wait a full 15 minutes after the sound of the wagon had faded, just to be sure they didn't return for some forgotten something or other. They were some of the longest minutes of my life. But the wait was worth it.
  14. Silver Shadows rise and flow; In a Landscape they don't know. Where true love calls, and true love hears, and time is measured not in years. Where true love seeks, and true love finds; It is the Landscape of the Mind. They say a Thousand Years have passed, Since the day I held you last. They say a Thousand Miles divide, And yet we're walking side by side. In the Landscape of the Mind For Time and Space mean Nothing here; And True Love's Hope, Drives Out All Fear. It is a Place where Shadows Glow, and Love's True Face , You may safely show. It is the Landscape of the Mind; Where True Love Seeks, and True Love Finds. Where True Love Calls and True Love Hears; and True Love's Hope Drives out all Fears. It is a Place where Shadows Glow, and True Love's Light will clearly show; Heart to Hear, and Mind to Mind, It is the Landscape of the Mind, Where True Love Seeks and True Love Finds.
  15. As I lurked in the chamber behind the wall of the larder I reflected on my situation. I needed a way to observe my hosts without risk of discovery until the time was right for revealing myself. Assuming such a time ever came. After all if my fellow "Grendels" had been in the service of the Yuun-Xi... Well, odds were good that normal humans would have good reason to fear us. So, back to the problem of observation. I closed my eyes and stilled my mind. And after a few moments found that I could hear the voices of the people in the cabin almost as clearly as if I were still just behind the larder door. "...is packed, except for those carvings that weren't finished drying." "Good, good. Now sit down and eat your breakfast. The WaveRunner isn't due to reach port until tomorrow morning; Ishmael. And we have a good half day of travel before us. If you must fret about meeting Elizabeth, do it tomorrow, when you are going to meet her." "It's not that, father. Well, maybe a little. But, Well, The Wave Runner is a good ship and all...But..." "...The sea is a dangerous place. I'll not deny it. That's why I'm Isaac the Farmer these days; where I can get by seeing with my hands rather than my eyes. But that was one mishap out of years at sea."
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. It was early morning, an hour or so after sunrise, gray and overcast with a light mist of rain and the sent of early autumn 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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 evere 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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