The further I depart from the slop I leave behind me, the fainter the churning of the poison water grows. My body aches in a way that is unnatural for the creature that I am. Slimes, oozes don’t really have the capacity to feel pain. But here it is nonetheless. Ache, a straining pull on the liquid that makes up my body as if I was on the brink of starvation. As if I was on the brink of dehydration. But I know I am fine. I am fine. It’s just the poison my body has gotten used to, it’s just the self-destruction my body has become accustomed to. It hurts to stop moving, it hurts to keep moving, it hurts to not drown my sorrows in black water.
I keep going, moving forward distracts me from the sensation. Every pulse of cold, damp ache a fresh cry of a familiar old voice calling out to me to turn around. To go back to where it’s familiar, to where it’s easier, where it’s comfortable and safe. To come back home. What do I want out here? There’s nothing for me out here. Come back. But I keep going.
If this isn’t a metaphor I’m making it into one now, guy, tell you what.
Besides, what else am I supposed to do? Just chill in a pile of slop until the thief-girl shows up and uh… well, honestly I don’t know how exactly she could even try to kill me as an ooze, especially if I stayed in the oil. But I bet she’d probably, I dunno, try to drink me or something. I feel like she would do that honestly and I don’t want to put it to the test. Have I ever told you I don’t like being eaten?
Well I don’t. I mean, I guess being drunken isn’t being eaten but. You know? Same difference. I bet she’d say something creepy like something about me being inside of her or something. We don’t do that kind of stuff here, friend. This is a family-friendly dungeon these days. The dark-lord is watching us after all, you know?
I’ve gotten far enough now from the pit and the black-water that I can’t even feel their thrashing anymore, that of my enraged kin. All I feel now is the deep running vibration of the machinery, of the living, breathing organism that is the heavy foundry as it churns out more bile. Churns out more poison. More black water. More green water. More death. As it makes everything that is rotten and foul in the dungeon and sends it off through the pipes like the spreading of a putrid malignancy, as the demon core of the dungeon corrupts everything around us with its presence. Stains and taints everything that is pure with its befuddling mark like a smear of ash on the forehead of a newborn.
Hissing steam shoots out around me in all directions, grazing my shivering body as I press forward, not entirely sure where it is I’m going. Last time I was here, I don’t think I saw anything that was particularly obviously a secret exit. Then again I didn’t really look either to be fair. I feel unwell, like that time I drank the potion. I feel sickly, nauseous. I don’t think I have the capacity to feel dizzy, but I definitely feel unsteady. My sensitive ability to detect movement disrupted by my shaking, quivering body; disrupted by the thundering hammering coming up from ahead from the industrial pistons striking against each other as if locked in mortal combat. As if the foundry were fighting itself. Consuming itself.
Suddenly I feel a wide opening before me, bits of my goo tingling from the change in the density of the air. I realize that I have reached the large central chamber where I entered as a rat last time. If I remember right… I should be on the top left of the room?
I’d open my menu but uh, I don’t have eyes, you know?
Carefully I crawl inside, inching forward with my goo stretched out ahead of me to taste and touch everything before I walk that way. Last thing I want is to walk into some giant gear and get crushed or something. Then again… maybe I’d be fine? I don’t really have bones or organs. Another puff of steam hisses out and strikes me and I duck down in surprise, thinking for a second that it’s a delicate elven hand reaching out to grab me. To touch me. But it’s just scalding hot poison steam. Phew. I jumped a little there. I uh, I think she got to me a little you know? Emotionally.
I like to consider myself pretty brave all things considered. Well… maybe not brave. Maybe I’m just desensitized? Is there a difference? Dunno. But still, yikes, you know? Haha… ah… huh?
I stop again, sensing some new sharp vibration in the mix. Some tiny little scampering shining out through the mix of pounding heavy machinery, some tiny little feet skittering and scurry-scurrying across the gears. A rat? I stop. Then the vibrations stop too.
Cautiously I move forward again, getting closer now to the center of the room. Massive churning gears spin above me up in the heights, giving them the feeling of safety in the distance, in the rafters. In the grinding noise of the factory. But they don’t know that I feel them every time I move. That I feel their tiny little feet scratching against the metal, scratching against the stones. Every time I move they move too. They are following me. They are many. Many-many. I feel their beady little eyes watching me.
How many? A lot. A full swarm so at least a clean hundred. They stay in the distance and they watch me. Scamper-scampering around the many gears and pipes as a collective to which I do not belong.
Can rats hurt me? I guess not… but… they aren’t supposed to be here right? I don’t remember rats being here. All of the sudden I feel rather uneasy again as there is a squeaking high in the darkness above.