HotM: Part 3

Created: 4 February 2021, 02:58:57 EST
Last updated: 25 January 2022, 15:03:06 EST

Sparkle by BrowbirdFrostfallSparkle by Browbird

Heart of the Moon

The final beacon of the ancient Aldebast defense system has been deactivated. 

Vinta remained behind, having taken a seat atop a pile of toppled stones at the Dark Side tower ruins in order to complete some illegible notes they had been taking regarding the beacon towers and how they function. Alongside their notes are illustrations depicting the ice creatures encountered during this endeavor with information on the habits of each. 

Upon noticing they had been left in the dust as the rest of the party pushed onward with Aventus, Vinta lept to their feet with a start and rushed after the group. They continue their rush, clearly exasperated with several scrolls clutched in their hands as they clumsily tried not to drop anything of importance. A few pieces of parchment loosened themselves from their grip, scattering into the winds and snow. One could only hope none of them were important.

Behind them the sound of humming can be heard, building and building to the point it can be clearly heard across the frosty landscape, and even farther to the College of Aldebast. As it grows in volume, the group notices four colored lights pierce upwards into the sky - one from each of the four towers.

Winter1 by Browbird

 

There is a small base camp set out at the edge of where The Dark Side gives way to the caverns. Following those caverns would take one to the entrance to the core is located. When Vinta arrives everyone is bustling with chatter about what exactly cthe four lights could mean and if anything awaits them deeper within the moon.

After some down time spent regrouping, warming up, and recovering energy, everyone gathers around Vinta for a last briefing before the final leg of the adventure. Vinta nervously clears their throat, but they hesitate to speak when their eyes catches Aventus' gaze and their own nervousness takes over. With a deep breath they center themself.

SparkleVinta

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"..."

 

SparkleVinta

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"You've all come very far, but our journey is not yet over. As you can guess, there is more that waits for us below. I have my concerns about it as it has been quite some time since anyone has ventured down there. There's no telling what dangers we may face from this point forward."

 

SparkleVinta

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"The lights and sounds earlier are quite peculiar. I am not entirely sure what they mean, but I get the impression that we were successful."

 

SparkleVinta

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"I can only hope that this will go as smoothly as most of our venture has so far. Still - we can't be too careless. You're all capable but I am technically responsible for everyone's wellbeing, so I'll be taking point again. Please stay close, but remain at what you feel is a safe distance."

 

Murmurs go through the crowd. Some throw out theories and ideas about what awaits them. Vinta waits for a few moments before continuing to speak. 

SparkleVinta

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"The core itself is naturally exposed, which is likely why it there had been a system in place to protect it during ancient times. This technology was to ensure no one abused the energy the core provides. As time went on and this moon became barren, those machines were left forgotten as the snow and ice consumed them. They eventually ceased to function."

 

SparkleVinta

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"This happened all long before the headmaster arrived and had the college built. The old ruins dotting Aldebast were actually one of the reasons she chose this place. It would make an excellent subject for research after all. The core also provided a sustainable magical resource for those of us here to draw on for our projects and other purposes. It seems to sustain much of the natural wildlife dwelling on the moon as well as it's rays seep into the stone and soil."

 

SparkleVinta

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"Cores such as this one still aren't entirely understood despite often being used for their power. They are remnants of a world that existed long before time was properly recorded. What we do know of them is that they are some kind of swirling mass of astral energy that is, for the most part, safe in the right hands. The astral aspect they embody allows them to radiate life and protection, which happens to serve as an excellent barrier against the more powerful void aspect spells."

 

SparkleVinta

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"Considering all of this and the lack of any real threats at the time, the headmaster saw no reason to keep the old defenses active as they were often dangerous and inconvinent. So once research regarding them had concluded they were left alone. It is unfortunate we did not continue to station sentries nearby, because as fate would have it the so-called King was also aware of their existence."

 

SparkleVinta

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"Full of greed he attempted to stake his claim on the core as well, and decided he would reactivate the defenses that protect the core, sealing off our access to it. Along with this, he created those beasts we encountered along the way to guard against any who would defy him."

 

SparkleVinta

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"Furthermore, there are likely worse things that await us. The original documentation about the core does mention... Something concerning."

 

The archmage rummages through some scrolls, uncovering a particular document covered in text and sketches. They hold it up for others to see, though only those closest to them would be able to make it out clearly. It details some type of automaton or construct, but Vinta doesn't leave much room for questions and instead  looks over the group again with a rather grim expression.

SparkleVinta

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"That will be all. We'll leave in an hour, please be prepared by then."

 

They end there and begin to clean up some of the papers that had fallen from their arms while they spoke. 

The crowd surrounding them disperses and those planning to continue onwards with the group finish up their preparations. Even with the core close at hand there is a sense that there is still a long way to go. The next hour passes before you realize it and once again you find yourself back on the snowy path that gives way to the cavernous depths of the moon. As you get closer, you realize there is no need for lantern light when your surroundings never darken. The cold outside gives way to sparse glowing plant life decorating the shimmering stones and rough crystal-like walls of the caves. 

And at the end of the cave...

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