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Wind rushes past my twisting form, which I shift around in midair to face forward once more. To face up the staircase I am ascending through a great heat I can’t feel now, but one I know that is present here already. A minute later I burst out of the staircase and land in a black-stone, magma-filled room. The red dragon’s boss arena. I look around, the walls are covered with still downwardly dripping magma from the boss-fight now not long in the past.
I stop for a second to wonder how it is that the red-dragon can make magma rise above the floors here but none of it drips down the stair-case to the lower floors? Weird. Dungeon magic. Already now I hear a dull thud of the soft leather boots climbing up behind me, still far, far down below. But the sound echoes fast, climbing up the rough stone walls like a hunting spider. She’s for sure after me again, the thief-girl, why? Dunno. Don’t care. Ta-ta.
I burst forward flying around in an arc before swinging down the cavernous tunnels. As I do so, I spare a moment to run my fingers along the mangled carcass of the great beast laying there atop a hoard of gold. With no further distractions I quickly zoom around floor ninety-five and reach the stairs where I was adopted in my drake life and power up them with the same lightning speed as all the others. With this body, with this pace I can for sure find the stairs in the forest. Probably even before the thief-girl has a chance to catch me, that is even if she can find me in there.
As I bound up the staircase here, I can’t help but notice that the walls are a little different. Solid brickwork, very plain and uncomplicated work. But the dungeon stairs down below all had more cavernous, stone walls like a cave so this is an interesting development I suppose. Flying by I notice several things however, slits in the wall that each zip past me with a whooshing sound as I go by. Traps? These are blade traps like the one from that one time I was a… um… goblin? No, slime. Right? Yeah. Slime. But there are dozens of them all here in a row.
However none of them set off, all of them apparently already having been triggered. By the hero-party? Is this why there are never any traps anymore? Because the dungeon-master just throws a hundred of them towards the adventurers in one spot? That just seems like bad management, guy. I shake my head. I really need to have a talk with the dungeon-master sometime. I love the guy, but I can’t help but feel that management is a little disconnected from us bread and butter types, you know?
The density of the air seems to feel a little different now, a little calmer, softer and I realize the next floor must be close. Sure enough I see the dim greenish-yellow light of filtered sunbeams shining through the forest beginning to breach the darkness above, as if I was underwater and swimming towards the rays of the sun just over my head. Where do these stairs come out anyways? Wasn’t it by th-
I burst out of the staircase and see the bright, matutinal world around me. The gentle sway of the forest breeze already creating such a soothing cacophony of natural rhythm and beauty. It almost sounds like it’s raining, a gentle pitter-patter sings out into the world. A lush, warm nurturing light enveloping me as I come into this wholesome plane. As I return to the forest once more. I love this floor, friend. What I don’t love is the lack of personal space though. I look around me at the sub-boss arena and look at the thousands of tiny crawling spiders all over the floor of the space. Hundreds of thousands of tiny little legs scampering and skittering over fallen leaves, over tiny red-cap bones and over the many trees whose boughs are so tightly webbed that the thick green leaves appear almost as white as if in the dead of winter. The pitter-patter of their legs ticking out like the sound of rain.
The arena is surrounded by thick, stone walls, ramparts manned with skeleton archers and guardsmen with long pikes and spears. Spiders crawl all over them, through them, nesting in their hollow skulls and rib-cages; filling the gaps of their undeath with new life. With spiders. I shudder. Nichodemus doesn’t like spiders too much. Also these are the, uh, less human variants. All of the spider-kin are gone now, either killed or faded out after the death of their queen. All that remain now are simple, everyday creepy-crawly spiders and a few skeletons that the hero-party either missed or simply ignored. I smirk a little at the thought that the thief-girl is going to have to get through all of them if she wants to get to me.
My smirk however is quickly lost and I scream like a scared child, a shrill shriek leaving my bones, as I see the first of the little legs finding their way up my own. Kicking and flailing a little I shoot forward on my stream of air and zip out of the sub-boss arena as fast as I can, shaking and fidgeting to swipe away anything that is clinging on to me. Shoo shoo, spiders. Shoo shoo! This body isn’t big enough for more than two of us as is!
Dashing out of the arena I find myself confronted with the great forest before me and break through the tree-line with little hesitation. I mean sure, I might be a little traumatized from being mauled, mangled and mutilated last time I was here. But that’s something you just have to work through, you know? Breathing exercises, being calm, ducking.
I duck, just barely missing the low hanging branch I almost smashed into. I need to pay closer attention if I’m going to go so fast in here. Zipping around from tree to tree I can’t help but feel like I’m having quite some fun doing so. Vivid colors blur around me from my speed. Deep greens and browns and rich reds all blur together into a sponge-smear of color in my vision that I bounce around like a bat in the night. As I glide over the forest floors I bend down low mid-motion and let my left hand run along the soft grass beneath me. I wish I could feel it I think to myself as I soar over the seemingly boundless emerald sea.
Where? Where? I dart left and I dart right, flying through the verdant wood in my search for the secret exit. Refulgent sunlight beams through the gaps of the leaves far above me; rays of light shining through and piercing the shaded vale of the underworld beneath the distant crowns and as I break through into a small clearing in the middle of the forest I find myself slowing, before coming to a full stop in the midst of the empty space.
My eyes bound around together with my mind from one corner of the world to the next, searching for any hint in my sight, any hint in my memory of the forest map; thinking of any dark, forgotten corner inaccessible to the adventurers. As I ponder, my gaze rises upwards towards the great, magical ball that is the eternal sun of the Spindlewood. I love that thing. It’s beautiful. I wonder if that’s what the real sun looks like?
Nichodemus knows. But he won’t let me see. Jerk.
Whatever, this sun here, the dungeon sun, my sun, is in and of itself glorious I think as I stare at the massive magical object attached to the ceiling. Resplendent with its many burning hues of reds, yellows and oranges emanating from the raging magical energies contained inside. Suspended from the massive chains that bind it to the ceiling so far above.
The thick, heavy blackened chains, scorched from intense heat, that wind their way up to the cavernous roof so far above and bore into it, vanishing into gaps and tunnels.
Vanishing into the darkness above, into deep holes the light can not stretch to touch.
I knock on my own skull once, letting a single ‘thunk’ ring out into the quiet forest moving only by the sway of some magical breeze.
The secret stairs are up there. Up above the sun.
Now how do I get up there?