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The armored skiffs hum low over the gray, humid earth, speeding toward the Castle of Silence. An AI gunship escort follows each skiff, weapons trained on the dark horizon. Inside your skiff's cockpit, the pilot grimly triple-checks the cloaking device to ensure they have enough charge for the ride back. Knight-Brother Mountain unlocks his harness and enters the ship's passenger hold, casting an apprising glare over the lot of you. You may have been hand-picked by Iron King Ischyros himself for this mission – even made to swear an oath of secrecy on pain of death – but the Knight-Brother's judgment was subject to his own insurmountable standards.

"Wake up, soldiers," Knight-Brother Mountain says. "We'll arrive within the hour. Consider it your new home; you're gonna be here a while."

Mountain flicks a button on a terminal in the center of the hold, portraying a holographic projection of a grand ziggurat, countless miles tall and wide, extending far deeper underground: Agatecastle is its official codename, but it is better known now as the Castle of Silence. Once home to millions and millions of souls of every race and walk of life, it is now nothing but a grave.

"For reasons unknown, Agatecastle fell to the Dreaded Ones, millennia ago," Mountain begins. "Either they infiltrated before the Castle's Heart could erect its protective barrier of light, or, worse, they broke through that barrier. If it's the latter, then whatever broke through could still be out there. And they'll come for the other Castles sooner or later. Agatecastle exists on no official records anywhere in any of the nine remaining Castles, so we have little to go on. All we know now is that the place is crawling top to bottom with Dreaded Ones.

"Your primary mission is to discover why the so-called Castle of Silence fell. Data chips, paper records, get whatever you can find that points to something concrete, something we can kill. As for your secondary mission: As you know, every Castle has a self-destruct mechanism, known as the Sword of the Five Gods, located on Layer Zero. It can only be operated by the keys and authorization codes held by the Castle's royal family. These should be located somewhere in the royal Palace, all the way down on Layer One. Find the keys and the codes from Layer One. Infiltrate Layer Zero and arm the Sword of the Five Gods. Then get the hell out of there."

Knight-Brother Mountain looks over his shoulder, through the glass windows of the cockpit, and flicks off the hologram; there is no need for it anymore. The dead steel walls of the Castle of Silence lurk at last upon the horizon.

114 posts omitted. Click reply to view.


Posting a recap of the description of the Commissary area for a refresher:

The commissary is fairly barren, besides all of the debris and rubble scattered around. Nothing really useful seems to be sitting around for the taking. There's a door in the Northwestern corner, leading West, and two doors to the South, adjacent to one another. One is labeled as a janitor's supply closet, while the other is unmarked. Finally, on either side of the stairwell door are two more doors, a male and female bathroom.


"Perhaps that is true Mister Conflagration, but perhaps we would have needed to deal with them upon our return to the more civilized parts of this hiv- castle. I believe that we are still better off than before."
I turn to look at the available paths leading out of this commissary.
"I believe we should first examine what these passages lead to before making a choice whereupon we should take. Miss Lost Hope, Miss Deadweight, would you be so kind enough as to weigh your input here?"


Lost decided to take the moment to take a peek in the unmarked door.


Deadweight's gaze drifts from the screen to her trembling hoof. "Shit!" she exclaims, almost dropping her magicomp. She stuffs it in her saddle bags then tries to keep her composure. Nothing she can do now. "Uh, let's go there," she says, pointing at the door in the Northwestern corner.

"Just don't lag behind again," she chides the crystal pony.


Beyond the unmarked door to the South, there is a long corridor. It has many short, almost zig-zagging bends, probably to move around things like pipes and cables, but ultimately, it leads south for some distance, and then to the west; beyond that, you cannot see.


I follow Deadweight.


Deadweight imparts her words of wisdom, "We'll just keep going. If it's a dead end, we'll go a different way."


I close my eyes and nod.
"At your lead, Miss Deadweight."

I'll follow the group and continue mapping these rooms to the best of my ability.


"Be that as it may, what matters it that you're alright, dear soul," Huitlapan says. "Any injuries I can assist with? I know I mangled that last attempt… their cries gave me an awful spook."

You head past the Northwestern door, and there is a short corridor after it, which ends after no more than 10 meters in another door, this one locked. Xu raises her hoof for silence and caution, and uses her telekinesis to test the door from a distance. No traps, magical or otherwise, go off, but the handle does not turn, and the door itself does not budge; the door is locked.

>"Anyone good with lockpicking? And quietly this time?" Xu asks via Concord text message. Following her message is a string of annoyed emojis.


The mare quietly winced and remained silent as as she turns to join the others

It seems we have two options for how to continue. The other one doesn't have a door from what I can see."


"Really? Alright, maybe we should go that way," Deadweight softly replies.


I switch apps and respond.
I do have the lockpicking tools for just such an occasion! Unfortunately I've not made an effort to learn the skill for it. Perhaps someone else does?


I text back.
"Afraid not."


"Well, let's go the other way, then," Deadweight says, already walking back.


I switch apps again and follow Deadweight


Lost nodded and lead them back over to the other door.


I continue to follow.


Huitlapan responds with: (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻

And Xu follows that with naught but a single face-hoof emoji.

Deciding not to pursue whatever's down the Northwestern door, you proceed South, coming to the corridor that zig-zags to the South and West. What follows from that door is a long and winding path, curving and snaking this way and that through the guts of the rearranged Floor. After a little while of heading West for a time, the hallway eventually turns North, and after about 10 meters, it ends in a West-facing doorway.

The doorway is ajar, allowing you to peer through its gap. The door leads to a small storage area, set up in what looks like it used to be some kind of repair shop for weapons. The tools hanging from the wall are rusted beyond repair, and many foul-smelling and partly-rotted crates are stacked up from floor to ceiling.

A pair of skeleton Puroa, or catfolk, hang out in the storage area. One is sitting on a treasure chest, an unlight cigarette in his mouth. There is another treasure chest sitting beside him. The other skeleton inspects the crates with a clipboard in hand, which doesn't even have a sheet of paper upon it. Both skeletons are equipped with holstered firearms.


Deadweight sighs in frustration. "Another dead end. Maybe we should just bash through the locked door."


Huh, Looks like we might be able to salvage a few things from this place."

Maybe there's a key in here?"


"Oh my."
I cover my mouth with a hoof
"I certainly hope this behavior is only the work of magic."


I wait to see what the others do.


"Maybe…" Deadweight looks around the storage area.



Roll #1 9 = 9


"Exceuse me, Mister Conflagration, I hope this isn't presumptuous of me to ask but would you know if this type of… monster be reasoned with? I must admit I ignored the janitorial one prior as it posed no threat, as such this is a matter out of my knowledge."


Huitlapan raises his paw. "It looks like it's only the two Puros skeletons in there. If they're going to react negatively toward anyone, it'd be toward me. Why not I go in there and make of myself a distraction, then if there's something amiss, you can come in and help me, eh?"

You see one door in the room's South wall, and though you can't see further without actually entering the room, you see the farthest edge of a North-facing doorway in the room's Northwestern corner.


Perhaps I can slip in silently while you do so.

[1d10] Stealth

Roll #1 1 = 1


"Mister Huitlapan, I don't believe putting ourselves in a position towards unnecessary danger should be the first choice. If these things show no aggression then perhaps they can be reasoned, or bargained with."


"Looks like there're a couple of other doors in there, actually," Deadweight relays to the rest of the group.


"Right, well I don't wish to bear unnecessary pains but please excuse me."
I walk into the room and clear my throat to get the skeletons' attention.
"Good Evening, I don't wish to be rude but I am quite interested in knowing if you two are sentient? Please excuse this faux pas as I'm not well versed in your magic."
Word of Power?
[1d10+2] MIN6

Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12


As Lost Hope attempts to subtly enter the room, her forehoof catches upon a upon a bit of debris from a rotten crate littering the floor, and the stumbles forward, throwing open the door with a BANG in the process as she tries to grab onto anything to stabilize herself. She skids to a halt without falling, but ends up uncomfortably close to the skeleton with the cigarette.

Speaking of which, the two skeletons jump in shock as Lost Hope stumbles in. The one with the cigarette draws his rusted, antique gun and levels it at Lost Hope, while the other one backs away, using his clipboard as a shield. Xu grits her teeth and charges a spell upon her horn–

It is at this moment that Firmgold steps in as if all that was happening here was perfectly natural. The two skeletons relax and sigh, and the one with the cigarette holsters his gun. The two skeletons chatter away, rattling their jawbones and periodically looking at one another and nodding, but their conversation is completely one-sided; you cannot understand a word that they are saying, and judging by their confused expressions, neither can Huitlapan or Xu.

"The question, then, is whether they can understand us," Huitlapan whispers.
"Looked like it," Xu whispers back. "They seemed to pick up on what Firmgold said."

As you get a fuller view of the room, you can see that there is actually another door; one in the center of the Northern wall, leading North. That makes for a total of four doors: The one on the East wall, which you are at now, the Southern door, the Northern door, and the Northwestern door.


Lost groaned and rubbed her head sheepishly as she made her way in "Do you uh… do you mind if we open those chests you guys have?" she asked curiously.


I let out a disappointed sigh, then forcefully perk up as I speak with some hoof gestures to see if we can communicate this way.
"I must apologize first because I cannot understand your dialogue. However it would benefit myself and my compatriots were you to assist us in allowing our passage through here. I would be greatly thankful for such an allowance."


"No! What're you⁠—" she loudly whispers before Firmgold waltzes in. Finding that the skeletons are actually quite sensible, she goes, "Huh," then enters the room.


If they don't get shot right away I step out of cover too.


File: 1590204651905.jpg (137.48 KB, 631x827, L-8 F-8.jpg)

The two skeletons stand aside, allowing you to get at the treasure chests if you so wish. As Firmgold makes her request for help, they nod.

"If there are no objections, I'd like to make the first request," Xu says, stepping forward. "You guys happen to have a map we can use?"

The clipboard skeleton nods, ushering her over to the desk, where you see an old tablet. The screen is cracked, but it seems to have some juice left. The skeleton powers it on, and hands Xu one end of a universal connector cable, connecting the other end to the tablet. He taps away at the tablet for a moment, and Xu nods with gratitude. "Can I borrow that for a sec?" she asks, gesturing to the cable. The skeleton nods, and so she disconnects it from the tablet.

Xu then turns to you. "Here, I'll transfer the floor layout to the rest of you," she says, holding out the cable.

If you agree to let her initiate the file transfer, you receive a blank map of the local area, like so:


Lost decided to investigate the chest that the skeleton had been sitting on first.


I'll save my map and agree to have this one sent over for reference.
"Thank you very much Miss Xu, this is a great help."

I then close my eyes and bow my head to the skeletons.
"And to you two as well, I offer my thanks. We shall be out of your way as soon as we can."

Then turn to the group.
"We have a map, where should we go next? I must advise that knowing this level doesn't absolve us of the enemy's whereabouts."


Deadweight plugs into Xu. "Huh, well that makes things a little easier."

"It looks like there're stairs down there," she says, pointing to room 8. "Gotta figure out where we are first, though…"


"Wait, I'm not so sure," Xu says. "I wish this map was annotated, but everything looks all out of date around here– who knows how old that tablet is. But I'm alsmost positive, based on the path we took to get here, that we came from Room 8. We should be standing in Room 3 now, don't you think? The shape of the doors is definitely the same."
"Yes… makes sense to me," Huitlapan says. "So the closest rooms would be Room 7 and Room 2, right?"

You investigate the chests, and they are mostly full of junk, but you find a few noteworthy things.
The first is a bag of Schillings: 85 in total. The second is a toolbox with a rusted-shut lid you manage to pry open after a few tries. Inside is a set of metal components that someone back at the Forward Operating Base might pay for, along with a few gemstones for magical engineering – 3 in total.

And finally, there is a set of keys, similar to what a custodian might carry with them. Quite a few keys dangle from the ring, as well as a single security keycard. You might be able to use that upon some terminals, if you find any.


She grinned and pulled the keys out "JAckpot." she said as she put the gems in her pouch for now considering that to be her cut for now.


Meant to tag this))


"Hm, correct me if I'm wrong but we took a southern pass to get here. There are only two stairwells here, one of which we came down."
"Honestly I'd like to believe that you're correct. We should operate on the idea that we're between rooms Seven and Two. Would that make us in room Three, or perhaps that's wishful thinking?"


Deadweight stares at her magicomp. "Ah, I see. I guess the stairs down are in Room 6, then," she brings her eyes closer to the screen. "Which is in the opposite corner of this floor," she says. She groans in frustration.


"It looks like the quickest route would be to pass through Rooms 7 and 9," Huitlapan says. "Then, take either 1 or 5 into Room 6 and head downward."
"Should we even bother with the other rooms?" Xu asks.
"Well, there's always the chance we might miss an elevator if we try to get through too quickly," Huitlapan says.

The skeletons go back to chilling.


"It would serve us well to know what lies in each room, in case we need to scour them for safety's sake."


"Should we just backtrack to Room 8 and go through Room 11 then either Room 1 or 10, whichever looks clear?" Deadweight suggests, cautious despite her cocky attitude. A good Warrior is an alive Warrior.


I concede to the group here. Hopefully the keys I found will be useful. There's also some schillings and parts in those chests if anybody wants to nab them."


"You found some keys? Nice," Deadweight says as she takes a look at the chests, nabbing whatever's left.


"Noted, thank you Miss Hope."

"Trying the door from room Eight to room Eleven may prove easier with the keys Miss Hope found. I agree that it's possible for us to fast track our passage down."


She gave them both a small grateful smile

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