November 23, 2014

Un-Surviving the Smuggler's Arena: A Journal

This is an experimental post
Spiral Date 68360.4

Snyder fixed his hat, reinforcing an invisible crease in the seam between his fingers."There's a better way to get Scrip, y'know," he croaked, "But you've got to fight for it, mate." I folded my arms and pulled my goggles down to hang around my neck. I could see Hinson gulp - at least someone had heard of my doings, whether they were the clockwork rewirings in Marleybone, the Stormzilla fight in Mooshu, or even my papers published in the Laurentine, though I doubt those were the interest - and Snyder immediately stepped back. (I have the second thought now that the two were likely more shocked over the dead eye instead of recognizing my scientific progress.) 

"What is it?" I asked, scrunching my nose at the putrid smell of the Black Market. If the opportunity was anywhere but here, I'd take it up.

Short talk immediately led me down a hatch and into a passageway carved into the ground, poorly inlaid with bricks in odd places. I marveled at an empty cavern, braziers and torches spitting bright red fire. The place stunk of charcoal with a hint of roses. At least whoever inhabited this place had some sense of atmospheric decency.

I made my way into the center of the room. Even though the cavern itself was a stroke of architectural intellect, it was also one of plain luck, by the natural shaping of the ceiling. A metal staked gate glimmered in the candlelight, darkness abounding behind. The possibilities put me in unease - something fixed easily with a spin of my goggles, playing around with light levels to ameliorate the tension.

"Ne'er seen yer face around 'ere," an individual in tuxedo black-and-white noted snidely from a platform above. (This isn't to forget about his attire, which was eloquently crafted and enviable from my own standpoint, having never seen his particular patterns before.) I had fastened my goggles on again, but the light coming in from above was just too harsh. To avoid heightening the level of a retained glare, I put my goggles down, walking back towards a crate that I stood on. I'd have to yell a little to talk, but if my calculations were right, I'd be a little more accurate with a throwing knife.

"Yeah?" I called back, crouching atop the crate. Besides, it was much more comfortable than standing - took the weight off of my heels - and more practical should an aerial assault come from the ceilings or the stale air itself. I counted it as a possibility.

"Yeah," the dog drawled back, tapping his cane on the soft wood. "Th'name is Scriptop, and I've definitely heard o' you." I thus didn't bother to say my name. From this much further off, the light levels were adjusted enough for me to put my goggles back on. The familiar rose-tinted glass filtered the atmosphere, a color I have gotten used to. I looked through the area. I saw no anomalies and sighed in relief. I think I'd had enough of those. "You're here for the Scrip, eh?"

"Sure," I said, shrugging to display my point in a way more obvious than my words, those uttered so quietly that they didn't carry, anyways. I looked at the ceiling again. No bombs. I balanced the entirety of my weight on my hands for a moment before settling down in a sitting position, ankles crossed. While I cleaned my blade with a handkerchief, my staff floated next to me.


The gate lifted. I had been expecting a loud creak, some sort of unoiled cry from the bars, but the movement was only a little friction. Rats and crabs stood in the entranceway. (Reminded me so much of the Coliseum in Aquila - except that I had walked from behind bars - that I made a remark in Linear A and got a strange look from Scriptop. The wit of people, I say!) I caught my staff, making a blast in the ground that propelled me into the air, which I then turned into a crouch, the light of the hoodoo swirling around me precariously. From behind me, some members of my team showed themselves, the others filing into the bleachers. I nodded to my team - Fan, Ratbeard, and Bonnie - as I drew a circle in the ground, enchanting it with my staff and watching it, my hands, and the entire rest of me turn invisible. I ran and the others spread out.

Round one. The rat squirts were more experienced than I thought. In fact, everyone was. Why these guys aren't ruling Skull Island evades me, but I have a feeling it must lie in this arena. Fan is knocked out of combat by one of the squirts near the end of our pursuit, even after Bonnie healed her. The multiplicity of critical strikes per single unit were too much.

Round two. Toro was quick to fill in for Flanders, and I was quick to get away from the battle to play support for a little. Mistake here was that I casted one buff too many, seeing knockouts from just too far away for me to intervene. When I returned, I was unable to heal Bonnie; Regardless of the heal I then put upon myself, two swashbuckling mustangs were too much for me. When I had both swords turned on me, I thrust from my pocket my handkerchief - slightly discolored from usage, but still a mottled white.

I fell to the ground once disengaged; I spent a moment panting in thought before standing again, calling my wings to carry me instead of my tired legs. Out of the startled dust, the wingbeats made puffs close to the ground. "Good thing I was puttin' you through practice, eh?" Scriptop chuckled from his platform, swinging his cane. I kept my words to myself, flying straight to my crew and sitting down. We talked quietly amongst ourselves, some speaking to one another in languages that I did or didn't know.

I now write this from my cabin, which currently only contains a desk. I have plans to move an organ in here, an instrument that I learned the basics of while staying in the Laurentine Library. I can only conclude that Scrip is a currency that will soon rule the island. With such tough trials comes the immediate grasp of power for winning the precious currency. I both excite and fear to see what will come of this new system.

I will be reporting back soon. For now, repairs, esp. my goggles. Always the goggles.


  1. WOW, I just LOVE This style. Your imagination amazes me. The smells in there never occurred to me, just brilliant. I relived my fights as I read yours and it added just the right level of spice. Please, oh please, more of this delightful stuff. Wow. :D

    1. Funny thing about the smells: The ancient Greeks and Romans put rose or grapevine clippings into their braziers. Not only would the smoke be very sweet-smelling, but the remains made for very good charcoal later.

      I imagined the Arena as a place with swashbuckler-esque class, and with the swashbucklers' healthy love for roses, I only felt it right. The bright red flames were very Beneath-Beneath style.


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