Whirring gears and grinding mechanisms fill the encapsulated space with a heavy, dense pressure. As if the air around me, around us was compressing and pressing tighter with every surge of the pistons just outside, with every crank of the levers surrounding the pipe. A deep series of vibrations that shoot out through the many ducts and metallic joints resonate through my wet form, causing me to tremor and shiver like a dying man. Like the final surge of life was running through my body as my synapses, muscles and nerves twitched one last time before the end. But this is normal, this is how it always is here. In the machines.
I slosh forward, pulling my black, oily goo on behind me. Bits of suspended metal scrape along the stone floors with a shrill screech with every lurching motion as I slop on ahead, inch by inch, going down and through the metal corridor. Steam and poison surge around me, shooting out in all directions from inside the pipe as I move on unperturbed through the tube, sloshing. Lurching. Oozing forward with a creeping pace as I move. As I consume the slop and the filth around me. The slop and filth that is me.
The poison courses through my body, runs through my body, makes my body; only to slowly drip down in all directions over my wet, disgusting form that is washed over and compressed by boiling steam from the sides, only to bounce back a second later. The gaps in my being fill themselves with more viscous goo that simply drips down everywhere. Fills itself with more scrap, with more jagged, red-hot metal that hisses as it is submerged in the poison that I am.
I’m an ooze. Neat.
Remember oozes? We saw them for a moment when I was running for my life that one time. No, not that time. The other time. I run for my life a lot as you probably noticed, guy. But can you blame me? Anywho, ooze!
I slosh forward, down the pipe and I feel the sloshing of others behind me. Of others before me who suddenly vanish. Suddenly I as well feel the weight of my front drooping down and then I droop forward with it, falling down below out of the pipe and splashing into the puddle of black goo below with all the rest of my kin. With all of the other oozes birthed of oil and poison. Residue of the machine, of the thing it imbues. An unintended byproduct that has been given the spark of life, not by the gods above or by the divine, but simply by the machine. By his foundry.
By the machinations of the creator.
I sloppily dredge forward. I have no eyes. I have no ears. I feel like a slime, but I am not a slime. Oozes are… well, oozes. Think of slimes as like a thick, consistent jelly. Very wobbly. Very dense. Oozes are just goo. Just a loose slop of vile contamination filled with metal, filled with toxic water and bones. The miasma of the foundry made manifest. An unwanted, but accepted existence by both the dungeon-master who makes use of us and the hero-party who kills us.
Sloshing forward I separate myself from my kin who amble around the edges of the pool of black oil. They have nowhere to go, they don’t need to hunt. The oil is our food. The oil is us. We devour the blood of the foundry that has created us like a swarm of newborn spiders devouring their mother. It is as nature desires, not as the powers that be do. Even the dungeon is subject to some natural laws.
My mind still whirs from the brutality of my last death, my thoughts dreading my next encounter with the thief-girl who I imagine is looking at her friend’s list this very second, who is looking at my entry this very second. At my name this very second.
At my name?
I stop my journey realizing what that means. It means she knows my name? My first name? Now that I think about it, she only started hounding me like this after… after I got my menu from demon-miasma, after I got his menu. The lance hero’s menu. Does she think I’m him? Is that what this is? Does she think I’m the lance hero reincarnated as some trash-mob? Is that why she wants to keep me down here? Did she and him have a thing?
I mean, good for you demon-miasma, but… well, you know. Maybe don’t go for the crazy eyed one next time?
Moving forward I return my focus to the task at hand. I feel more pressure than ever now in a weird way, honestly. I need to find those secret stairs, I want to get out of here. I’m used to dying, but man, that last one was rough. That look in her eyes. Her eyes. Her eyes?
I shake my, uh, head; wondering why am I thinking about eyes? Hmm.
There is an odd sensation in my body now though and I stop. I am growing shorter, my ooze spreading flatter and wider. My body separating and becoming loose, I feel it begin to shake and tremor. Flattening like as if some great weight were being pressed down on me. As if the substance that made up my body couldn’t hold together anymore. I quickly realize as I feel the hunger, that it can’t. That I can’t. No, it is a thirst. A pain. A need.
I turn around, quickly shifting my mass back to the pool of oil, to my kin who await my return and to the steaming pipe that fills the air with a solemn hiss like that of a serpent ready to strike at some threat lurching slowly towards it. Sloshing.
Submerging myself in the poison oil I bubble and feel it wash around me, feel it wash over me, wash through me. My equally as damned kin are around me now, their bodies rubbing and sloshing over mine as they restore the warmth to my mass, as they welcome me back to the fold. To the pit I belong in, the hole where there is no escape from. As they praise me for not trying to leave. There’s no point in trying to leave. We all should stay here. As I reinvigorate in the poison I realize that I am trapped by it, limited by it. My body needs it to survive. I need to drink it, to bathe in it, to absorb it. If I stop, I will die. It is me. My lifeblood.
I rise up, splashing around out from below. Reinvigorated, restored.
I stare out of the pool, towards the stone surface around me and wonder how I am supposed to get out here?