terraria fic

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November 16, 2014 10:28am
Chapter II.1: The Green World

Our tiny boat bobbed in the clear, foaming waves. The bunnies' paddles rolled forward in steady rhythm, their tiny white paws rowing with surprising strength.

On the dais behind me sat the captain, easily twice the size of a typical bunny. Her body was a ball of well-toned muscle concealed beneath a thick coat of silky white fur, like the rest of her crew.

And then there was me. Scheil of Corundia. A hapless adventurer who had somehow caught the attention of a spectre. Who had stumbled and tripped through Terraria's perils, just surviving by the skin of my teeth.

No. That wasn't right. Skeletron's defeat had come about through determination. Through repitition. Through innovation and skill.

What about that vision? What should I make of the vision which rose from Skeletron's corpse? Of the city swallowed by Corruption and snow?

I lay my greasy, sticky crimtane blade across my lap. I preferred my chain-knife, but it seemed I would be replacing it soon. "Say--do you know where we're going, ma'am?" I asked the captain nervously.

Her nose twitching, the great rabbit nodded happily. Taking a well-preserved palm-frond sheet, the captain showed me a detailed map of the surrounding lands.

Up until now, I'd always imagined Corundia, Alabaster, and Minaria as very linear; now, I could see that each territory was a piece of a larger continent-- which was, in turn, part of a larger universe.

Alabaster had a natural border with Corundia, at the south edge of the tundra; but Minaria--by far the largest territory--was separated by snowcapped ridges and a lush valley with a lake. The grass-cave must be connected to Minaria's focus-point for me to be able to travel between Corundia and Minaria.

Across the western sea from Corundia lay another continent--our destination, I realized. This land had a wavy coastline, sandy beaches spread between jagged ridges like a bat's wings. "Avalon." read the map label.

Avalon. The name was familiar. But why?

My pulse grew heavy and ominous as we approached the distant shore. Though my days in Corundia were not over, a new adventure was unfolding...

+--------+

Paddles sloshed heavily alongside the boat as we traveled upstream A thick fog surrounded us, tiny droplets of condensation on the bunnies' fur. I heard distant growls from roaming zombies in the woods.

The boat was slowing, drawing close to the bank, gradually coming to a stop. With a small snuffling sound, the bunny captain took hold of a length of rope with her teeth and cast it around a nearby boulder.

After securing the loop, she looked up at me expectantly. I could feel the entire crew's gazes on me. Placing a handful of coins in front of the captain, I smiled in thanks, gathered up my weapons, and stepped out onto the foggy bank.

The mist began to lift as I walked through the woods, leaving the river behind me. Light was gathering on the horizon, the glow of the sun--stronger than all the fires of the Underworld. Slowly, its rays began to play across the land. In the wind, birds chirped a soft, uplifting melody.

"Fancy seeing you here."

A familiar accent, a familiar voice. Wincing, I turned around to face the adventurer behind me. "Rose," I said after a moment.

She wore a pharaoh's robe and a white rain-hat, a jellyfish necklace glowing on her chest. Her belt carried a several pouches of throwing knives, all stained with green poison. And in one hand, she held a gleaming pink sword witb a gold star on its hilt.

This was the woman who ravaged Corundia and left it in shambles--or so it had seemed. The one who taught me invaluable lessons, yet left me with numerous problems. I stared at her, conflicted, not sure how to respond.

She chuckled. "I suppose you got the distress call too," said Rose lightly. "Shall we go exploring, good chum?" Without waiting for an answer, she took me by the hand and led me off.

Though the trees were tall and green as any on Corundia or Minaria, their branches drooped as if burdened with some great sorrow. As we moved through the woods, I though I could sense someone else in the foliage, a third set of footsteps, a third pair of eyes...

Crossing another river, we came upon a large hill in the west, a chedt laying in the mouth of a beckoning tunnel. Further down, I discovered more chests, one at each turn, each containing money, potions, and supplies. It was enough to make me wonder: Was this tunnel someone's home?

Checking each chest along the way, I had trouble keeping up with Rose--and like before, she was out of sight and gone.

The tunnel opened into an icebound cavern--a world of undead vikings, ice bats, and snow flinxes. "Rose?" I called nervously as I slid down the rope.

There was no reply.

At that moment, several jets of ice struck me painfully in the back, causing me to lose my grip on the rope, a chill penetrating the warm platinum-and-meteor armor. As I fell, I caught a glimpse of a glittering ligjt-blue slime with a shell of jagged ice shards.

Numb and frozen, I broke through the ice and plunged into the water. Once again, everything was trying to kill me.

Perhaps I shouldn't panic. Perhaps, I should just... wait for the spectre. For the ghost-like figure who snatched me from death, and drew me back to safety.

The pain in my lungs intensified. There was no sign of the spectre. Was this to be my true death?

A pair of arms grabbed me, dragging me up and out from the water, Gasping, coughing up water, I was hoisted up onto the ice, icy water streaming out from my armor.

An unfamiliar face stared down at me, a jungle rose adorning red hair tied back into a ponytail. She appeared to be wearing crimtane armor under a now-sodden set of gold robes. "You okay, kid?" she muttered.

Numb and shivering, I nodded gratefully. "Sorry about your robes," I managed to say as my meteor armor began to warm me up again, chilling water dripping down around me. "I'm Scheil--you?"

She was already on her feet, scanning the ceiling. "Never mind the robes, they're cheap," said the girl, taking out a silver handgun. "So you're Scheil, then? The name's Avilin. Where's your beacon?"

"My... my what?"

Crack! Crack! Two gunshots rang out, and a pair of bats' remains hit the floor with wet squelches. "Your beacon," repeated Avilin. "It lets you talk with other adventurers in the same area."

She snapped her fingers, and a tiny crystal light appeared near my head. My eyes widened. I'd seen it before once, when Rose visited Corundia. That time, it was glowing green; now, it was colorless.

There was another crystal light floating near Avilin's head, this one a deep blue. "Beacons have four colored faction settings, in addition to the colorless default setting," she told me. "Set yours to blue. Just imagine the color blue when you touch it."

I reached out to touch my beacon, thinking of the alluring color of the open sea. At once, the tiny crystal light turned blue, and a glowing blue triangle appeared over Avilin's head. Some sort of locator spell, perhaps?

My eyes fell on another blue mark glowing in midair, and I suddenly remembered Rose. "Rose? You there?" I said into the beacon.

A momentary pause, then Rose's voice came through. "Right here. What's up?"

"I just ran into--" I stopped and frowned. "Where did you go, anyway? I lost track of you."

She snickered. "Are you still back in that other tunnel, you chump? Don't bother, there's nothing else of value. I've cleaned it out."

"Rose? You're talking to Fuwaa?" Avilin was suddenly staring at me. "She's here too?"

I blinked. "You two know each other?"

"Well, I know 'of' her." Avilin sounded as if I should know this already. "I'd have to, considering where I live. I've heard of you too, of course."

I stared at her "I... I don't understand. This land is Avalon, right?"

"That's right--Avalon, home of the Adventurers' Guild. Or at least, it used to be." She hurried through that second sentence. "Let's see--your world was Corundia... oh, Jack's world."

Ah! That was where I'd first heard of Avalon! The Guild of Adventurers in Avalon had sent the guides to Corundia: Jack, then Kyle, then Bradley. And the guides in other lands answered to the Guild as well: Luke, Seth, and Zach.

I was beginning to feel warm and cosy within my meteor armor. Still, something prickled at me. "Did something happen to the Guild?"

Flinching, Avilin slowly nodded "The Corruption has existed in Avalon since our earliest records, but it was never a problem until now. One year ago, the Corruption emerged from dormacy, rotting away the earth beneath our shining city in the snow..."

The vision! The vision of the city in the snow, collapsing into the Corruption... "Though we fought hard, we had no chance against the forces of nature, however twisted they had become. And thus... our city--our Guild, our pride--was swallowed whole."

Avilin's hat slipped, obscuring her face--but I heard the cracks in her voice as she spun to face me and clasped my wrists, reeking of raw emotion. "The Guild has fallen, Scheil--and I want you to help me bring it back."
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
November 26, 2014 11:32am
Chapter II.2: Avilin of Avalon



Returning to the surface, Avilin and I set up camp in a field near the river where I'd disembarked from the bunnies' ferry. I set up a makeshift workshop--workbench, furnace, and anvil--before Avilin returned with two potato sacks over her shoulders, filled with stone and red lumber.

Dropping off the potato sacks, she set up some topographical equipment and began to wander the field. "The chasms disrupted Avalon's internal polarity, causing the magnetic fields to shift," she muttered, holding out a straight-edge. "The focus point is now located... right about..."

Hopping down from a small rock ledge, she stepped over to one spot in particular. "Here." And she marked it with torches for now.

The focus-point--or the "spawn-point", as the most avid veterans called it--was the place that connected Avalon to the vast host of dryads across Terraria, responsible for restoring fallen adventures to life.

And yet... even with such a great host of dryads working in tandem, an emissary was still needed. Without the spectre to bring our souls backr to the focus-point, resurrection could not happen.

Though he'd been the one to convince me to come here in the first place, I hadn't seen the spectre in Avalon yet. Did that mean I was not under his protection, for now?

Sleeping through the afternoon, we awoke as dusk approached. The bunnies' boat had returned and was now safely moored on the riverbank, but there was no sign of the crew.

"Even bunnies have to sleep at some time," said Avilin as we dug a fire-pit near the focus-point and lined it with stone. "They have little dens nearby, I'm sure."

Stacking firewood and gel, Al ignited a campfire. Huddling into a ball, I stared into the comforting, nourishing flames as the sun dipped below the horizon. "Hey, Avilin?" I asked finally.

"Just call me Al," she said, putting a potato on a stick and roasting it over the fire like a marshmellow. "What is it?"

"Tell me more about the guild."

She hesitated. "There are other guilds, but this is the only one I've ever known," said Avilin. "At its heart, the Guild was formed to unite adventurers. Together, they could overcome challenges that would have been insurmountable alone."

Teammates? Yes, Rose had been insufferable at times but... "More importantly, the guild trains the guides," added Al. "With their vast knowledge on crafting and monsters, the guides help new adventurers to survive."

I swallowed. How hard had the guides trained and worked, only to die because a new adventurer couldn't protect them? Had the guides been Al's friends? "I'm sorry," I mumbled. "Two guides died because of me."

Al shook her head. "The guides are volunteers," she assured me. "They knew the risks before they even came to the guild. And despite all that, they're willing to perform their duty."

We were silent. Rose was to blame for Kyle's death, in part at least--but Jack's death had been entirely my fault. Even knowing they accepted death as a possibility, I... I still couldn't dispel this feeling of guilt.

"I've been hiding out for a month or two now," admitted Avilin as we sat by the fire. "We adventurers can't last long without a support group like the guild, you know. Sooner or later, something picks us off."

I stared into the flames. "Maybe Rose could help..."

With uncanny timing, our beacons came to life. "Not a chance! I'm in my private den, peasants," said Rose, her voice filtering through the tiny crystal lights. "Neither of you are cool enough to get in. Bye!"

The beacons went silent, and a blue locator mark appeared in the distance. "Let's go find Rose before she gets herself killed," sighed Al, loading up her handgun with fresh bullets. "Come on."

Nodding, I picked up my crimtane sword and followed after her.

A few grass-caves, a few slopes; we bounded through the woods toward Rose's locator, coming to a stop in the shadows of a Living Tree.

"Ah! Here we go," muttered Al, squatting next to a deep, narrow pit. The opening was clearly too small for either of us to fit inside. Was this Rose's den?

Images flashed through my head--potted plants, a few paintings, a bed made of leaves, fenceposts and rope littered everywhere. Yes... I could see Rose living in such a place.

Al looked at me and raised her pickaxe, positioning herself over the narrow hole. "Let's take care of this, shall we? Stand back-to-back with me. You on the right, me on the left."

I was taking out my pickaxe when I suddenly realized what we were doing. "Are you sure we should..."

"Definitely sure," she replied. "Ready? Go."

We started tunneling down with incredible speed, our pickaxes widening the narrow shaft with rapid hacks. Sparks flew as platinum and crimtane toolheads struck stone, tearing through the soil.

About a hundred feet down or so, the dirt under our feet crumbled, and we both tumbled down into a small grass-cave. Brushing dirt off my armor, I lit a torch and got to my feet. In the middle of the cave lay Rose, fast asleep.

The cave was completely empty. No bed of leaves, no fence-posts or ropes, no flowerpots; just Rose, alone in this little cave. "Hey, you there," said Al, gently kicking the sleeping girl. "Get up."

"Huh?" Rose's eyes opened slowly at first--then suddenly, she sat upright. "My den!" she cried, staring around the barren cave, aghast. "Everything's gone! Why?"

No. Not everything was gone. I stooped down to pick up a dusty picture frame that had fallen in the dust. "What do you mean?" asked Avilin.

Rose pressed her palm to her cheek. "I... I don't know," she said after a moment. "I was talking to you two through the beacon a moment ago. And then...I kinda just drifted off."

In the dim torchlight, I was able to make out two smiling girls in the picture before Rose tugged it away from me. "Well, we're here now," said Al, helping Rose up. "It's not safe here, though. Come back to camp with us."

Climbing back to the surface, the three of us headed back to camp.

"You must be Avilin," said Rose as we crossed under the roots of a living tree. "I've heard about you. Living in the snow for the last two weeks."

Al nodded. "And you're Rose Guriri," she replied. "The pleasure is mine."

We spent the rest of the night by the campfire, fending off zombies.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
December 2, 2014 11:19am
Chapter II.3: Guild of Adventurers

The next day, the three of us got to work. Taking the stone-filled sacks to the furnace, Avilin began to craft gray bricks while telling us about the guild's fall. Though I had seen the fall of Avalon in that mysterious vision, I listened eagerly.

"The guild had a number of contingency plans in the event that the Corruption awoke from dormancy," said Al, crushing stone fragments into mortar with her hammer. "Unfortunately, none of the plans considered the possiblity that chasms might open within the city itself."

With wood and iron, Rose and I built a supply chest, placing it by the fountain. "When the Eater of Worlds attacked our city, it awoke several pockets of Corruption that had been long buried beneath the snow..."

Using the gray bricks, we helped Al to build a fountain on Avalon's focus-point. Rose carried buckets of water between the fountain and the river while I hammered bricks into slopes. "We fought the Corruption for days, but it was spreading too quickly. Soon, the guildmaster ordered us to evacuate."

Rose began to build a house next to the fountain while Avilin and I used the remaining gray bricks to pave over the ground. "By then, the gates were choked with vile thorns. I managed to escape through the chasms, but... I haven't found any other survivors yet."

We stood back to admire our handiwork. "We were fighting a force of nature--and we lost," admitted Avilin, her voice cracking. "There's nothing left of the city now. Whatever didn't crumble was lost to the blizzards..."

She turned to me. "Still, between the three of us, I think we can rebuild the guild."

Was this why I was here? To rebuild that shining city? But I was just a struggling adventurer. Not even someone with skill--just lucky at all the right times, it'd seemed. How could I help fulfill Avilin's request?

Returning, Rose planted a gravestone next to the fountain. "I declare this to be the Land of Tombstones," she said jauntily. "Huzzah! My house is complete."

Rose's house--or at least, the foundations that would become her house--stood between the focus-point and the river. It was also much larger than any house I'd ever built.

Her house was like the things that she'd built on Corundia. The walls of her house, for instance, were made of wooden posts and rope. The roof was made from wooden planks, strung together with more rope. "That's a pretty house, Rosy," remarked Avilin, reaching for the red lumber. "I'll start on mine. You gonna build a house too, Scheil?"

Part of me was worried about what might be happening back home in Corundia. Still, I didn't know when I would be able to return. For now, I might as well set up a semi-permanent shelter. "I... I suppose I will," I answered.

Borrowing some of Avilin's bricks, I built a tiny dwelling next to the outdoor workshop. True to the houses I'd built on Corundia, it was more like a fox's den than a house, with the ground sloping up to the top of the back wall. I was rather proud.

Then, I turned around and saw what Avilin had been working on. It was larger than Rose's house, a wooden building with planked supports and topped with rich mahogany shingles. There was a sign hung above the front door.

A hanging sign, huh? I'd never thought about hanging a sign from a ceiling. "'Avilin's bar,'" I read aloud, holding up a torch so I could read the sign. "'Freshly brewed ale, made with... high-quality potatoes?'"

"What? I like potatoes," said Al, appearing in the doorway, hefting a hot potato in a gloved hand. Inside, I saw the glow of a furnace illuminating a few tables, a worn chest in the corner. Rudimentary... but cozy. More cozy than my house, anyway.

On the gravestone that Rose left by the fountain, I noticed Al had inscribed a name: Falador XVI. "Previous guildmaster," she explained. "Best I can do for him."

Night was falling again; the entire day had slipped away as we erected our houses. Avilin and I retreated to the bar while Rose bounded off in search of loot. "What sort of equipment do you carry?" asked Al.

I showed Al my space gun. "This, a crimtane sword, and a chain-knife."

Blinking, Avilin took the space gun to the counter and peered at it closely. "This gun doesn't use bullets," she said after a moment. "It runs on a mana adapter. Are you a mage?"

I shook my head. I'd never held a magical weapon in my life... or so I had thought. "I just... hooked it up to my suit. I never had a problem with mana."

Al frowned at me for a moment, then grinned. "You have meteor armor under there, I take it? From the way this gun looks, your suit is enough to power this gun. Don't try it with any other guns with mana adapters, though."

Mana adapters. I stared as she handed me back the gun. "So, what's Corundia like?" asked Avilin. "Much jungle there?"

I shook my head. "Lots of desert, lots of snow... and Crimson. Some jungle, I suppose."

"Odd," muttered Al, looking at the floor. "Corundia takes its name from a mythical city in the heart of the jungle. If you believe what the foxes say, anyway."

I shivered. The Crimson. Was Tatiana managing to conduct her research safely? What if the Crimson managed to escape from the glass barrier? "I'm sorry to hear about your guild," I managed to say. "But... I'm kind of grateful that Avalon has Corruption, and not Crimson."

"Really? I think the Crimson looks much better," said Al, amused. "It really gets the blood pumping, wouldn't you agree? Like there's something there to fight against. While the Corruption is just... well... depressing."

I stared at her blankly. Surely, she wouldn't be saying that if the Crimson had swallowed the guild--

A sudden wave of fear swept over us, followed by a deep, familiar growl. Avilin and I raced outside to find Rose standing by the fountain, holding up a supicious looking eyeball to the sky. "Hi there," she called to us, starfury in hand. "The Eye of Cthulhu should be joining us in a moment."

I grimaced--but surely I could handle the Eye now, considering how I'd fared against Skeletron. "Give some warning first," sighed Avilin, loading fresh bullets into her handgun. "Ready, Scheil?"

Crimtane sword raised, I nodded. "Ready."

Staring up at the sky, we watched as the Eye of Cthulhu descended from the stars. And yet, something felt odd; the Eye evoked cold despair, not hot panic.

Avilin started firing as Rose and I leapt up toward the Eye, weapons raised--Rose with a cloudy burst, I with hissing spectre boots. Landing a deep slash across the Eye's iris, I hit the ground, rolling to one knee.

Starry lights fell from the sky as Rose swung her pink blade, flashing around the Eye, Al's bullets streaking around us. Furious, the Eye opened its jaws, the pupil splitting open as it flew just out of sight.

We stared at each other as the Eye circled us from the shadows, snarling furiously, hungrily. "Rose, check the fountain," ordered Al, gun raised, hair flapping. "Scheil, watch from above. I'll--"

"Al! Watch out!" shouted a voice. Avilin whirled around as the Eye came charging at her with a mighty roar. At the same time, a boy with a straw hat and blue shirt leapt forward and tackled her to the ground, just out of harm's way.

"Metatyph! You're alive!" spluttered Al as the Eye rose up into the air again. "What's going on? Why are you here?"

Starfury raised, Rose kept her gaze on the furious Eye overhead while I joined Avilin and the boy. "I've been looking for you, of course," replied the boy, looking her over nervously. "You all right?"

Rubbing her forehead, Avilin got to her feet. "Yeah," she muttered, glancing to Rose and me. "This is my friend, Typh--he was with the guild too. Come on, guys--we've got an Eye to kill. I'll tell you guys more later."

Beneath the fountain, the four of us stood in a ready line--Rose with her pink blade, Avilin with her handgun, Metatyph with a wooden bow, and I with my space gun.

As the Eye dove at us again, we opened fire on the great demon together, blasting it relentlessly. With a shuddering, howling scream, the Eye burst open in a shower of bloody fragments.

Weapons clattering to the pavement, we stared at each other blankly, silently. Overhead, we could hear the low rumble of thunderheads, heavy rainclouds gathering.

I could hear the faint sound of clappng. Slowly, I turned to see a familiar hooded figure in ghostly robes, standing in the fountain.

At last, the spectre had come.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
January 21, 2015 8:40am
Chapter II.4: Recall

Raindrops hit the pavement in a steady rhythm as the spectre approached us with silent steps, examining us. "And then, there were five," said the spectre. "You've come along well, all of you."

The sleeve of his translucent robe brushed against me as he passed. He was truly here. Not some mere apparition, as he had been at Corundia. The one who guided me. Who reassured me. Who led me here.

For once, Rose looked unnerved. "A spectre," whispered Avilin, one hand outstretched. "A spectre... pardon the expression... in the flesh."

His eyes glowed beneath his hood, raindrops rolling down his robes without soaking in. "You needn't look so surprised," the spectre told her calmly. "It's not by chance that you've all gathered here, after all."

"Hey, question?" called Metatyph, tenatively raising his hand. The rest of us all fell silent as the spectre turned to face him. "SO um... who are you, exactly?"

With growing apprehension, we watched as the spectre approached Metatyph, who took a step back. "I am Mystery-of-the-Fallen-Sea, but Myste shall suffice," said the spectre quietly, a faint chill in his voice. "I am a spectre. One of an ancient order which has nurtured adventurer guilds from the shadows."

He began to pace around us, looking each of us in the eye. "One by one, each of you answered the call," continued Myste. "The jubilant Witch Fuwaa. The intrepid Scheil. The hardy Metatyph. Avilin, heir of Avalon, you now have the means to restore the guild to glory."

--------

The clocks said that dawn was breaking, but the rain-clouds puffed and swelled, blocking out the rising sun's rays. As the rain began to pick up momentum, we adjourned to Avilin's bar.

Rose, Metatyph, and I took a seat at the table while Myste leaned against the wall, watching us silently. I opened my mouth--I had many questions for the spectre--but he simply shook his head. Not now, he seemed to be saying.

"So Typh, how did you get here?" asked Avilin as she poured us mugs of ale. "Last I heard, you were with the guides-in-training on their retreat."

Metatyph nodded. "We were camping near the Dungeon when the Eater of Worlds attacked us," said the boy, grimacing. "Most of the students were slaughtered right away. I've been on the move ever since."

Al frowned. "How come you didn't come back to the guild?" she asked. "I've been hiding in the city tunnels for weeks and never saw you."

"I- I'm sorry," stammered Typh. "Instructor Andrew tried to contact the guild, but got nothing. We eventually realized that the guild had fallen. I've been looking for you ever since, hoping you somehow escaped." He smiled weakly. "Glad you did."

Avilin sighed. "What a mess," she muttered. "Anyone else survive?"

Metatyph looked into his mug. "I managed to grab Darren, and we escaped to the Living Tree." A deep breath. "We hid in there for a few days. Darren's catching some sleep in that brick dugout over there."

That meant my house. Great. "You made it to Lady Elysia's tree," said Avilin thoughtfully. "Probably no sign of her, right?"

Typh nodded. "Some chasms opened up west of the tree. And of course, dryads flee as soon as the Corruption sets in."

"Damn," muttered Al, pacing around the bar. "We'll have to go hunt for her later." Her eyes fell on Rose and me. "Oh, right. Typh, this is Scheil Rose Guriri. As the sp... as Myste said, they're here to help rebuild the guild."

"Witch Fuwaa, at your service," chirped Rose happily. "I specialize in rope and... shall we say..." She fluffed her hair. "And building stylish buildings."

"I'm Scheil from Corundia, across the sea," I said nervously, shaking Metatyph's hand. "Nice to meet you."

Metatyph smiled warmly. "Glad to meet you both," he said. His voice was subtly cheerful. "The name's Metatyph Tempest, former Guild resident. Not formally an adventurer, but I look forward to working together."

At that moment, a ball of blue-white flame floated through the wall and flew to Myste's side. Blinking, I recalled the blue-white flames that had surrounded Myste on my first night in Terraria. A wisp!

We watched as Myste and the wisp exchanged a few inaudible words. Then, the spectre nodded, and the wisp came to rest above Myste's head. "Aria examined your defenses, and finds them deplorable," said Myste quietly. "We ought to build a tower in case of raids."

Aria, I gathered, was the wisp's name. Avilin fetched some paper and pencils from the chest and brought them to the table. "Let's draft some blueprints first," she suggested. The spectre nodded and took a seat.

Rose stood up as they sat down. "In that case, I'll be off to gather supplies," she said jauntily, putting down her empty mug. "So long, good chums!" Opening her umbrella, she skipped out the door and into the rain.

Typh and I got up as well; it didn't look like we were needed. "Come on, I'll introduce you to Darren," said Metatyph. Nodding, I followed him outside. I still wanted to talk to Myste later, once he had a moment.

The sky was brightening to a cool silver as rain splashed down our clothes and around our feet. Drab, some might call it--but to me, soft and beautiful.

Crossing over to my house, we entered to see a guide asleep on my bed. Metatyph gently shook him awake. "Hey, Darren. Wake up."

Stirring, Darren sat up, rubbing his eyes. "Huh? Typh?" he mumbled. He was very young for a guide, no older than nineteen. Blinking, he stared at me warily. "What's going on? Who's he?"

Up until now, I'd respected all the guides I'd worked with. This one? Not so much. "Scheil, owner of this house," I said stiffly, reluctantly shaking Darren's hand. "I... I'm here to help rebuild the guild, I guess. What were you--uh--doing in my bed?"

His head drooped. "Sorry, sir," muttered Darren, looking down at his lap; he seemed afraid that I might punish him. "I was exhausted from the long journey, and Typh brought me to the nearest place. I... didn't mean to intrude."

"No, no, it's fine." How long had the guild stood? How many guides had the guild sent out to neighboring lands over the years? A legacy of knowledge and skill, passed down from teacher to student for eons... but now, the guild's guides were gone. Except one.

"I... I wasn't at the top of my class or anything, but I know most of the crafting supplies," said Darren tenatively as Metatyph helped him over to the table, setting a bowl of hot soup in front of him. "I... I guess I could serve as the Guide for the new Avalon? If it's all right with everyone..."

"Of course it's all right."

Back outside, the rain was thinning out. Behind the bar, I saw Avilin at the top of a low slope, standing next to a large glass tank filled with water. There was a small compartment on the side of the tank, near the top. "What on earth is this?"

Avilin tilted her head back to me. "Haven't you heard of liquid generators?" she replied calmly. I thought for a moment. The books from Corundia's dungeon had mentioned liquid generators, yes, but I'd never looked into how they functioned, let alone how to build one.

"These will work, but they'll be very slow," said Myste as he joined us, watching Al's progress. "Water in the input compartment flows into the main tank with twice the volume. But, one still needs to refill the input compartment regularly."

Over the next few hours, Myste and Avilin began crafting more stone bricks with Darren's help, while Typh and I harvested stone for them. This wasn't too hard; there were a number of exposed stone veins along the river.

Around noon, Typh set down his pickaxe. "That should be enough stone," he mumbled, sitting down on a stump and taking some food out from his pack. "Say, where's Rose?"

As Al and Myste began laying bricks, I glanced around for Rose's beacon. Not in the field--not in the bar--not in her house. I sighed inwardly. Where did she run off this time? "I'll go fetch her."

Under Rose's house, I discovered a large pit, sort of like a basement. There was a deep, vertical shaft leading straight down into the underground. A hellevator, perhaps? Was this what Rose had been doing all along?

Taking one of Rose's spare umbrellas, I donned a mining helmet and leapt down the shaft.

The wind swelled into the umbrella as if it were a parachute, slowing my fall. Dirt yielded to stone; grass yielded to moss. How deep was this shaft?

Suddenly, the tunnel opened into a massive space, larger than any cavern, than any house. I was so astonished that I nearly lost my hold on the umbrella. I felt as if I had fallen beneath the edge of the world. Down, down, down; I descended into the abyss--screaming all the way.

About halfway down, I started picking up signals from Rose's beacon again--jumbled, scattered signals. 500 feet below me...300 feet below me... then 250 feet above me. 50 feet east... 150 feet east and down... 400 feet above me.

Adjusting my mining helmet I saw skeletons and slimes falling into the darkness before being cast up into the air again, falling endlessly. Giant worms exploded into blood around me, reappearing miraculously unharmed before exploding again. What was happening? I might still be a novice at Terrarian physics, but I was pretty sure this was abnormal.

Without warning, my feet touched solid ground, knees buckling. Breathing hard, I closed the great umbrella and got up, staring around Overhead, I saw Rose, trapped in the same falling cycle as the skeletons. "Rose?" I shouted up to her. "What's going on?"

Again and again, Rose fell; each time, before hitting the ground, some invisible force would cast her high up into the air. "You too, huh?" she laughed weakly, helpless to break her fall. "Hey... throw me some gel, could you? I... I'm out of torches."

Fumbling with my pack, I took out a large clump of gel and threw it up to Rose, who managed to catch it in midfall. "Thanks," she gasped as she was flung high into the air again, striking a torch. "Catch."

She tossed a round hand mirror at me, which I managed to catch. "Turn around, close your eyes, and count to thirty--aagh!" Once again, she was flung back up into the air.

"Wait! Why?" I cried. Much as I had hated what she did in Corundia, I couldn't help but feel sorry for her. Was there nothing I could do?

"Just do it!" she urged me as she fell once again. "After thirty, look in the mirror. And I--and whatever you do--don't open your eyes early!"

Reluctantly, I did as she ordered, and began to count. As I closed my eyes, I felt that power, that feeling surge inside me again, like tiny claws inside my blood. And yet, it didn't hurt, didn't throb...

As I reached the count of ten, the smell of fresh blood filled the air, warm and swollen. A faint vibration under my feet slowly rose into a deep, circumsonous growl. Something was approaching--a nameless thing that was too large to describe--

At fifteen, I heard Rose scream, then abruptly fall silent. "R-Rose?!" I cried out, shaking. No. She had said to keep my eyes closed. And yet--I felt as if that thing, that terrible prescence was staring down at me, eyeing me as its next prey...

At twenty, the prescence began to retreat. Slowly, its growls faded, the scent of fresh blood receding, the fear draining away...

Thirty. Opening my eyes, I spun around... and Rose had vanished without a trace. Searching the ground under where she had been, I found her beacon.

She was gone. That terrible prescence had taken her. Shuddering, I curled up into a ball, wishing that warm feeling power would return. Then, striking a torch, I looked at the mirror that Rose had tossed me.

The mirror did not show my surroundings or the torchlight; it reflected me, and only me, as if I was standing in a white fog. On the edges was written a single word: Recall.

"Recall...?"

The moment I said that word, the mirror glowed bright. I would have dropped it--but I could not move my fingers or arms, as if my body had been frozen in time. Sparks of blue-white light flew from the mirror, enveloping me, blotting out my surroundings...

A cool breeze filtered through the links in my chanimail, the sun setting on the east horizon. I yelped as water splashed down around me, nearly dropping the mirror. I was in the fountain. The fountain on the surface which marked Avalon's focus-point.

That was Rose's last gift to me. Not just a mirror, but an escape. An escape from whatever terrible fate had claimed her. Climbing out of the fountain, I headed for my house, growing tired.

Before I reached my front door, however, I caught sight of the finished tower in the distance, built on top of the liquid generators. My jaw dropped.

This was a tower to rival anything I'd ever built. Encircled by a lava moat, the tower's gray walls were over twice the height of Avilin's bar, an observation deck overlooking the field. Inside, a spiral staircase rose around a central wooden beam, which had been decorated with trophies.

"So, what do you think?" said Myste quietly from behind me, causing me to jump. "Impressive, no?"

NOTE: For those curious about what happened to Rose, it's a server glitch where part of the map fails to spawn, leaving a massive square hole. Objects in this space will appear to fall endlessly, including other players.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
September 5, 2015 12:18pm
Chapter II.5: Watchtower

----------

"What will happen to Terraria, without the guild?" I asked Myste that night.

"There's other guilds out there," said the spectre. "As a whole, Terraria will survive. That's the nice thing about it. But this guild, well... this one was in charge of all the nearby lands. Including yours."

"If guides are so important—" I broke off, the words choking in my throat. Jack, Kyle, Faye, Caitlin, Alfred. Why? Why didn't the spectre recover their souls? The souls of... of my friends. Even if a few hadn't seemed like friends.

"Even those who aren't adventurers can be resurrected, so long as their souls are intact," said Myste, startling me.  "But it's not so easy, not so...instantaneous. Villagers are usually under the jurisdiction of other spectres."

The two of us stared out from the new guild tower's top deck, out over the tiny village. Next to Avilin's bar stood Metatyph's wooden bunker.

Past my house stood Rose's house, the roof sagging. Lights shone from all the other windows; but the house by the river was lonely and empty. Wind and water trickled through the fence-posts, the incomplete walls...

"Thank you," I said finally.

Myste glanced at me. "Hm?"

"Thank you for watching over me. Back in Corundia."

His gaze unnerved me. "You ought to know that I've never actually been to Corundia," said the spectre. "Through the spiritual realm, I can project an avatar of myself to other lands—but I cannot physically visit them."

I shifted uncomfortably. "What do you mean?"

"I could only see you. Not the world around you. I could reach you through Corundia's Focus. I can project myself to another soul, such as you or Bradley. But I cannot interact with your surroundings."

"You drove off Skeletron." But already, I suspected his answer.

"As god of the undead, he exists in both the spiritual and physical realms." He cradled a blue tome in his arm. "Yes, I can touch him. But even so, I cannot break his curses. That was all you, my friend."

I stared at the ground. His body and robes were translucent, but I could see and touch him. "Are you really a ghost?"

A low chuckle came from the spectre. "Perhaps I am. I have worn these robes for a very long time..."

----------

I apologize. I shouldn't go out of order. It's just that the disappearance of Rose and the day's events overwhelmed me.

That morning, by the pit under Rose's house, I told the others what had happened to her.

"You're exaggerating," said Avilin flatly. "A mile-wide abyss? An infinite darkness? Falling forever? Terraria's caverns are large, but not that large. Even the great chasms of the Corruption under Old Avalon weren't that large."

"I'm serious! " I insisted. "I saw the place myself. It was like... like a slice of the world had been removed."

Avilin snorted. "And what do you make of this, Myste?"

Even with his face obscured, the spectre gave off an ominous feeling.

"Currently, Rose is not merely dead," said Myste. "I cannot even find her soul. Her connection to Avalon's Focus was completely severed. She cannot respawn."

I watched the twitching rope that led down the shaft. "I don't think any kind of treasure is down there at all. There's... something, some sort of—"

Metatyph's voice came from the chasm, so close that we heard him without beacons. "I've reached the bottom. Looks like Rose never finished this mining shaft."

Dumbfounded, I stared as Avilin and Myste got to their feet. How could this be? Rose had dug much further, I was sure. And the great void—slicing through Terraria like a blade through slime gel—

But there was no abyss. The bottom of the shaft was no wider than the top. Shocked, I pressed at solid dirt walls as Avilin divided us into teams in the cramped mine shaft. "Typh, you and Myste on the left," she ordered. "Scheil, you and I on the right. One... two... three!"

And so, we tunneled. And tunneled.

We tumbled into a cave with a small pool of water. In the dim glow of the wisp hovering at Myste's shoulder, Al and I lit our torches, castling specks of light off mineral veins. Climbing up onto some rocks, Typh raised his pickaxe and began mining out the veins.

From the walls, we seemed to be at the elevation where dirt yielded to stone—the edge of the cavern layer. At Al's instructions, Myste and I began tunneling into the cave's side.

Within minutes, we encountered the wide, blue glow of a mushroom cavern. Like the one on Corundia, this had formed around an underground lake.

"Ah! At last!" exclaimed the spectre, rushing forward, the glowing waters splashing over his robes as he dashed along the blue, grassy banks. "We ought to take a sample to the surface. Maybe build a farm."

Taking out my space gun, I shot down the descending bats as Myste began to gather mushroom grass samples. "I can get more from Corundia, if need be," I offered.

He shook his head. "That's for your own use. You'll need them more thsn you realize. These, though..." He held up a fistful of glowing mushrooms. "These are for the guild."

I frowned. We ought to have tunneled into the abyss by now, even if the shaft no longer led to it. If it had been a matter of the abyss sealing itself, I might hsve understood. But this... this was as if it had never existed at all.

----------

Night was falling when we returned to the surface, the fountain bubbling gently between Rose's house and mine.

Passing my house and the bar, I made for the tower.  Taking out my sapphire hook, I swung over the lava moat and landed on the doorstep. It was fairly simple architecture, thinking back, but the interior was alrather impressive. Lava and water frothed and sloshed under my feet in glass tanks on either side of the basement stairs.

The tower was ringed with windows about halfway up. What was the word again? Loopholes? Bullet windows? Somewhere to station a few rangers in case of attack.

At the bottom of the staircase was a single chest. There wasn't much in it, just a few raincoats and some rusty shackles. "Yeah, most of the stuff in there's rubbish," said Darren, emerging from the basement. "But it's a start, right?"

I blinked. "What're you doing here?"

""Al and Myste built some rooms under the tower," said the guide, pointing down the narrow stairwell. "It'd be too cramped if I stayed in your house, anyway." There was something different in the way he moved and talked; more relaxed, more at ease. Almost like Jack, on that first day...

"Name the convenience, and we shall build it," said Myste from the entrance, wings folding into the back of his robe. "Darren—how goes the search for Elysia?"

The young guide smiled. Probably the first time I ever saw him smile. "Thank you, sir," said Darren, nodding. "She hasn't turned up yet. But she should know about us by now."

"The Eater of Worlds chose its point of attack well. The Great Tree of Avalon has been tainted. But with Elysia's help, we should be able to cleanse it. Keep up the good work, Darren."

With a peaceful look in his eyes, Darren headed back down to his room. Approaching the spiral staircase, the spectre gestured to me. "Come, Scheil—we have much to discuss."

----------

That was how I found myself talking to the spectre at the top of the guild tower. "I haven't just been watching you for the guild's sake, you know," he told me. "I've seen Terraria change from era to era. Only the greatest of heroes can adapt to face the mysteries of Cenx."

Though transparent like a ghost's wraps, Myste's robes fluttered in the wind. "To be blunt, you're not very strong. You're easily pulverized. You struggle with such simple things. Yet no matter how many times you're slain, no matter how many times I must drag your soul back to the Focus, you keep going."

"And then there's Rose's disappearance. Rose was taken, but you were spared. Most would not escape such an enocounter."

Something in his voice made me frown. As if he knew what I'd been talking about. No, more than that—as if he'd been in such a situation before. "Do you... do you have an idea what happened to Rose?"

He sighed. "Pethaps. Yes, I think I know what happened. But there's one way to know. Make sure you're stocked up on supplies—we're headed to the Dungeon tomorrow."

----------
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
December 3, 2015 12:42pm
Chapter II.6: Crypt of Eyes

Green, slender jets of light flew from my space un. The steady cracks of Avilin's pistol from behind me. The steady thump of Metatyph's flaming arrows hitting home.  In the pink pavilion, under a half-moon, we confronted Skeletron, god of death. The meteorite suit was hot on my body, its coils funneling heat into the space gun's mana adapter.

"Jump!" shouted Myste as the great skull came rolling down through the ceiling. Not towards me, but towards Avilin. Struggling to steady my blade, I swung my sword at Skeletron's eye sockets as Al scrambled out of the way.

A furious roar of defeat. Cracks spread over Skeletron's skull, widening. Visor protecting my eyes, I watched as the god's vessel shattered into bloody bone fragments.

Another flash. Another wave of heat. Just like when I defeated Skeletron in Corundia. But it had been so much easier this time.

Slowly, I sank to the ground.

Landing, the spectre ran toward me. Why me, and not the others? I had taken the least damage, yet I was the one feeling that swell of heat, that feral, clawing blood—

"Get up," said Myste, pulling me to my feet. I glanced around. Both Avilin and Metatyph were staring at me. The sensation was gone, not even leaving a throbbing echo. "Come on—the answers are inside."

----------

I should have realized, back then, that both Metatyph and Avilin had far more vitality than I did. How many Heart Crystals had they found? Five? Ten? Fifteen? Such crystals were hard to come by in the first place. And as for Myste, well... I couldn't even begin to imagine how many. His aura was too luminous.

"If you pick up golden keys, make sure to crack open any chests you can," said Myste. "They keep Murasame blades here. And you'll need those."

Skeleton soldiers in red mail confronted us in each corridor, bone-spurs protruding from their shoulders. My crimtane sword was too heavy for me to cut through them easily, and their fists dealt staggering blows. I could not afford to hold back even once. But still, the others continued further into the dungeon with utter impunity. How?

Down, down, down the winding tunnel. Deeper and deeper we went, into the Dungeon's depths. Unlit chain lanterns hung from the ceiling, caged in iron. Only Myste's wisp penetrated the darkness.

My eyes fell on a nearby switch as we passed through. Ah, was this connected to the lights? I flicked the switch.

The dim cage-lantern came on overhead. And a steel dart shot out from the wall, sinking into my leg. "Gah! Traps!"

"Remember, this isn't the wilderness," warned Myste. The others were well ahead of us. "There's traps and spiked floors everywhere. Watch your step—"

I had to hang torches on the wall to light my way. Before I realized it, I'd run out of torches. I checked my gel pouch—only to remember that I'd given it all to Rose. "Ah, damn—"

Blue candles hung on the wall, rippling like a fading sunset on the sea. Wherever there were water candles, skeletons gathered around me.

Bleeding, limping, I climbed up onto a wooden shelf and followed Mystery into a great room with a table and chairs. In the center of the room stood a lone piano, decorated with carved eyes.

"Here it is," said the spectre in a hiss as he approached the piano, his wisp flosting close to the open book above the keys. "Terraria's buried secret..."

Perhaps I should have never looked. The book on the piano was not sheet music. It was not words, either.

The twisted symbols on its pages... the mysterious runes that offered no insight, no information, only a ghost of an image and a single name--

"Ahh..."

Now I understood the infinite abyss, and Rose's fate. Yes--there truly was a missing page from the field guide in my Dungeon. Perhaps the most important page of all.

"Wall... Wall of Flesh--"

Alarm flashed in Mystery's eyes. As if the very name was cursed, the entire room shuddered.

A glowing, ghostlike skull flew through the ceiling, Too late, I noticed the water candles around the room, the creaking footsteps of angry bone soldiers approaching the room.

I screamed as the cursed skull flew into my chest, flowing hrough my pores and into my veins like muddy water, permeating my body.

Magic bolts shot from the sphere above Mystery's head, mowing down the skeletons from the east entrance. But more skeletons were scrambling in from the west entrance, closing in on me. Raising my space gun, I tried to squeeze the trigger, but my hands, my fingers refused to move--

An iron-banded fist struck the back of my head, and my vision swelled into black and red.

Dismayed, the spectre looked back as my body collapsed to the floor. "Ah, if only I could revive you here," he said bitterly as more enemies closed in on him. "Return to the Focus, fallen soul, and rise again." A brilliant light flashed from his hand—

---------

My eyes opened. I was lying in the fountain at Avalon. My heart was pounding, my body clammy. This process really should be something I was used to by now, but...

Maybe I was disappointed in myself. That I was taken down so quickly. That I couldn't last a little longer.

After defeating Skeletron, I thought I was invincible. I'd defeated a god! But I was no match for his army. Yet, the others had burned through that army with ease...

Someone took me by the hand, "Come on, adventurer. You can do better than that."

Dripping wet, I climbed out of the fountain and stared at the dryad. The sky was still dark, but I could easily make out her face in the light from Rose's house. She was... she was strong and beautiful.

"I am Elysia, the dryad-queen of Avalon," she said, gazing down at me peacefully. She was vibrant, yet graceful. "I see the Guild is rebuilding itself already. Excellent, excellent."

Elysia! The one that Avilin and Metatyph had sought. My eyes widened. "The others are in the Dungeon," I blurted out. "They were looking for you. I... I didn't really have anything to do with it."

The queen nodded, gazing at the guild tower. "Of course they were. The Corruption has dealt a debilitating blow to this land, but with my aid, we shall fix that. And—"

I froze as she turned to face me directly. "You are Scheil of Corundia, yes?" she said. "You have done a fine job here, little adventurer. It may seem you had no real role, but without you, we might not be standing here. For now, you ought to pay a visit back home."

My eyes widened. I saw the boat waiting on the river, the great rabbit and her six crew-buns. "You have already met, but allow me to properly introduce Captain Mince," said Elysia as we approached the boat. She scratched Mince behind the ears, and the great rabbit closed her eyes, content. "She is a member of the White Carrot Yacht Club. Isn't she lovely?"

I nodded slowly, handing Mince the fare. As I got on the boat, I looked back at Elysia, Queen of the Dryads. "Will Avalon be all right without me?" I asked.

Elysia chuckled. "Fear not. The Guild will continue on their own. I will let the others know where you've gone. Go and recuperate, and return only when you are ready."

As I closed my eyes, the boat pulled away from the riverbank, and we were off on our way.

---------
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE

December 30, 2020 1:28pm
Chapter II.7: The First Demon

A/N: I started writing Pioneer in 2014, when 1.3 had not yet been released and the official lore did not yet exist. As such, this story (and especially this chapter) will diverge from the canon in numerous places. Additionally, my town's layout has changed numerous times since I wrote Volume I, and I only have a handful of sparse notes indicating some of the changes. I'll do my best, but there might be some inconsistencies with Volume I.

----------

"Scheil, wake up. You're home."

I opened my eyes to find Bradley, my faithful guide, standing over me. I was back in the old grass-cave in Corundia, just outside the tower. Not just any tower. My tower. Home sweet home.

"Hey, man, good to have you back," said Bradley with a grin. Reaching a hand, he pulled me to my feet. "Come on, let's get inside. Everyone's waiting."

"Huh? Everyone?" Still hazy, I followed Bradley inside.

The entire village was waiting for me. Jenna and Frederick were playing cards while Fahd worked on a crossword puzzle. Marco, Ovbere, and Philosir were sharing drinks while Reginald was cleaning his gun. "Welcome home, Scheil!" said Tatiana, who was leaning on the wall by the grandfather clock.

"Scheil, darling!" said Fantasy, pressing a mug of cider into my hands.

"Glad to have you back in town, kid," said Frederick. "I'm sure you've brought back tons of loot, so come by the shop sometime and I'll help you sell it off."

To my surprise, Luke and Seth, the guides of Alabaster and Minaria, had also come. "Now, technically, we're not supposed to be in another guide's territory," admitted Seth. "But since neither of us have adventurers to look after for the moment, it can't hurt for us to drop by for a bit."

"Honestly, Seth, I don't mind," said Bradley, shrugging. "It's gotta be lonely, living in that house by yourself."

Luke chuckled. "Oh, yeah, Zach wanted to come too, but he's kinda busy at the moment." He nodded at Tatiana. "It won't be much longer."

"Ah, is that so?" murmured Tatiana. "Good, good." Clearing her throat, she turned to me. "So, Scheil. What'd you think of Avalon?"

They all looked at me.

"It w—" My voice faltered midway.

"I met some of the survivors," I finally managed to say. "We've started building a new town."

I told them of the allies I'd made. Of the houses we built. Of the thrill of double-pickaxe digging. Fending off the Eye of Cthulhu together, and the rush of excitement in that small bit of teamwork.

Even so, my body was shaking. The Dungeon, the Dungeon! The awful truth I'd discovered in Avalon’s Dungeon still filled me with dread. "Tatiana," I said finally. "Please, tell me about the Wall of Flesh."

Almost immediately, the cheery atmosphere in the room vanished. Fantasy let out a shrill scream. Philosir fell back in his seat, shuddering. Reginald's pistol slipped from his hands and clattered to the floor, and he started cursing. Even Frederick, seemingly composed as always, couldn't stop his fingers from trembling.

"You know about the Wall?" said Jenna sharply, setting down her cards. Getting to her feet, she pointed at me. "Sit down, please. Mere knowledge of it can cause severe trauma."

Nodding numbly, I sat on my bed as Jenna took my pulse. Bradley clutched his head. "Ah, this is dreadful. Scheil has learned of the Wall."

"Scheil, are you sure you want to know?" said Luke quietly. "It's not too late. We can still change the subject."

"That's enough, you two," said Seth sternly.  The two younger guides fell silent. Seth looked at me solemnly. "The Wall of Flesh is the ultimate secret of the Guides. The enforcer and the deterrent of Terraria's curses. Everything ends, and everything begins, with the Wall of Flesh." He sighed. "It would be no great exaggeration to call it the very core and master of the world."

"The Wall appeared in Avalon," I told them as Jenna checked me with her stethoscope. "It took Rose."

That name only caused blank stares. It was then that I realized that not a single villager who'd been present when Rose visited Corundia was still here. That was a sad, lonely thought.

"Rose?" muttered Frederick. "Ah, that's the girl who accidentally attracted the first goblin raiders here, right? Ah, Alfred. You'll be missed, you old bastard." He shook his head. "No, no, even she didn't deserve this. But I'm afraid it's beyond our ability to help her."

I looked at the old field guide on my shelf. "Jenna, it all right if I get up?" I asked.

"Go ahaead, I've finished," said Jenna. "Looks like you're fine, but do take better care of yourself."

I retrieved the field guide and opened it to the missing page to show the others. "This chapter talks about the Underworld," I said. "And it makes lots of references to... to something dreadful. But it just stops short of naming it. Is the Wall of Flesh really that terrifying?"

"Oho! Allow me," said a voice. All heads turned as an old man in red entered the room, whistling a cheery tune. "Tut, tut, it seems I've arrived just on time."

The atmosphere softened once more. Bradley's eyes lit up, and Ovbere hopped down from his seat to clap the old man on the shoulder. But just who was he?

Wait a minute. That beard, that jacket, those jeans! They were cleaner, they were patched up, but I recognized them. "Old man of the Dungeon! Is that you?"

"Call me Pip, son," said the old man cheerily. "Thanks for freeing me from that curse, by the way. You've got my utmost gratitude."

I handed him some cider, still speechless. Could this really be that same old man? The one cursed by Skeletron? He looked completely different! Far from the haggard, worn face I'd seen outside the Dungeon, Pip's eyes were sharp and bright as a youth's.

"Ahh, this hits the spot," said Pip. "Anyway, listen up, Scheil. The Wall of Flesh traces its origins far, far back. To a time before the Crimson, before the Corruption, to the planting of Terraria's first seeds."

"As Faye once told you, Terraria's biomass is decentralized and self-propogating," said Tatiana. "The primordial gods planted the first seeds, but after that, it continued to expand on its own. But the pure energy of Terraria quickly drew the attention of Cthulhu, the Great Old One."

"Cthulhu came to Terraria to seize its energy for himself," said Pip. "His power was far beyond anything Terraria had seen. In desperation, the gods called upon the strongest Terrarians, anointing them as templar knights. Blessed by the spirits of light, the templar knights fought back against Cthulhu."

He took a long drink. "In the final battle, the templar knights confronted Cthulhu atop a blazing meteor, and ripped his body to pieces," said Pip. "Even now, his disembodied eyeball continues to wander the night, searching for the templars' descendants. But with that, Terraria finally was at peace!"

There was a long silence.

Luke chuckled. "I think he forgot why he was telling the story."

"Right," I said. "What's this got to do with the Wall of Flesh?"

Pip scratched his head. "Sorry. What were we talking about again?"

Bradley cleared his throat. "So, as Pip said, the templar knights ripped Cthulhu's body to pieces in that ancient body," said Bradley. "Eyeball aside, most of his remains landed harmlessly on the surface... well, until now, but I digress. But his tongue fell into a seething pool of lava, and was reborn as a terrifying demon with a hundred mouths."

"The Wall of Flesh." I understood now. "Then the Wall of Flesh is...?"

Bradley nodded. "Cthulhu's tongue, and the first of all demons."

"From its birth, the First Demon was a medium for the ancient spirits of darkness," said Seth. "They say its eyes could cast a vicious curse on you with a single glance. With a single bite, just one of its mouths could drain every drop of blood from your body."

"We dryads were still newly born when the First Demon emerged from the depths," said Tatiana. "We took pity on it, and allowed it to feed on the corpses of fallen Terrarians. But scavenging on corpses wasn't enough for the First Demon, and it soon began preying on live humans.

"And so, Terraria entered a new era of terror," said Bradley. "Entire towns and villages would be emptied overnight."

"Worse yet, as the First Demon grew, it gave birth to new demons, who further spread the spirits of darkness," said Tatiana. "Because we failed to act, demons spread throughout the land, and Terraria's energy was stained by Corruption."

When my first dryad, Faye, arrived on Corundia, she told me of the conflict between light and darkness. Of the Corruption born from demon magic, of the Hallow called by the dryads to defeat the demons. Of the long, bloody war fought to banish the demons to the underworld. Yet even she could not bring herself to reveal the origin of the demons.

"No one knows if the demons created the Corruption on purpose or by accident," said Tatiana. "But having formed from Cthulhu's tongue, the First Demon was driven by a strong compulsion to consume Terraria. And the Corruption, which spreads via the Eater of Worlds' reproductive cycle, can be regarded as the embodiment of that compulsion."

"The dryads and the templar knights ultimately drove the demon hordes into the Underworld," said Bradley. " But though demons no longer terrorized Terraria, the corruption could not be contained, and darkness continued to swallow the land. Thus, the ancient spirits cast a great seal on every world in Terraria, turning the First Demon into a pillar of immortal, molten flesh. And at last, Terraria knew peace."

"So long as the Wall of Flesh stands in the world, the war between light and darkness is stopped in time," said Tatiana. "The spirits of light themselves lie dormant within the Wall, keeping the spirits of darkness contained. But so long as that seal remains, the world will never achieve maturity, and its Living Trees will never bear fruit."

"That's where the Order of the Guide comes in," said Bradley. "Our duty as guides is to help adventurers grow strong enough to restart the war and banish darkness from Terraria, one world at a time."

Banish darkness from Terraria? I didn't know if I was capable of that. Perhaps the spectre, perhaps Avilin or Metatyph, but not me.

"Ah, not 'all' of Terraria," said Bradley quickly. "Terraria has thousands of worlds, so technically, we'd need thousands of adventurers. You're just responsible for Corundia, and possibly one or two neighboring worlds as well." He smiled. "And don't worry. When the time comes, you'll be ready. I'm sure of it."

That was a bit of a relief. To banish darkness from Corundia was still a very daunting prospect. But it was reassuring that Bradley believed in me. "Ah, but there's no corruption here on Corundia."

Tatiana nodded. "That's right. The Corruption isn't the only darkness that Terraria faces. It began fairly recently, but Terraria is now cursed by the Crimson as well."

"The spectre once told me that the Crimson is Cthulhu's flesh and blood," I said. "Is that the same Cthulhu that the templar knights fought against, long ago?"

"That's correct," said Tatiana. "When the templars ripped apart Cthulhu's body, his blood dripped down from the meteor and landed all across Terraria. My theory is Cthulhu's blood is trying to regenerate Cthulhu's body by assimilating the surrounding biomass, resulting in the Crimson." She smiled. "My research on the Crimson has been most fruitful, thanks to you."

"How come the Crimson only appeared recently, then? Why didn't it appear directly after the war with Cthulhu?"

"My theory is that Cthulhu's flesh and blood took centuries to adapt to its surroundings, before it learned to metabolize the biomass directly. Interestingly, the great seal on the Wall of Flesh suppresses Crimson in the same way it suppresses Corruption. And one day, when you've triumphed over the Wall of Flesh, you'll need to fight the Crimson just as others fight the Corruption."

"Okay, okay, enough of that," said Fantasy, clapping her hands. “Scheil’s back, and that’s more than enough reason to celebrate.” She gave me a sultry wink that would bring any man to his knees. “Don’t you agree, darling?”

Tatiana made a disapproving sound with her tongue, but the others laughed and cheered. "Sure," I said, laughing. "Thank you, everyone. I'm glad to be home."

"I'd best be off, then," said Seth, getting up. "Got to report back to the royal family, after all. Bradley, Scheil, everyone take care."

----------

I didn't sleep well that night, unfortunately. My dreams were filled with the Wall of Flesh, whose hundred mouths chased me through an ash-covered city in a burning wasteland. I ran through the charred streets as the buildings around me sank into pools of lava.

I woke the next morning at the crack of dawn. Climbing up to my workshop, I stared out across the lush, rolling hills. To think that in a world with such a lovely landscape, the Wall of Flesh was waiting for me in the underworld.

"It's a beautiful morning, isn't it?" said Bradley.

"It is," I agreed.

We fell into an uncomfortable silence.

"Hey," I said finally. "Do I really have to fight the Wall of Flesh someday?"

"When the time comes, yes," said Bradley. He sighed. "Tthat's right. You've never been to the underworld before, have you?"

"No," I said. "What's it like down there?"

"It really is like another world," he said. "Hills of ash and molten lakes as far as the eyes can see, dotted by charred-out buildings. Demons and lava bats swarm the air. That obsidian dresser you have? It came from the underworld. Rose must've carted it up here."

Those words cause me to briefly recall my dream. That dreary, burning landscape, far beneath the world, where cities went to die. Truly, what an eerie place the underworld must be.

"It'll be fine," said Bradley. "You'll be fine."

He hesitated. "Scheil, when you are ready to challenge the keeper of the underworld, you'll have to make a living sacrifice."

"A... a sacrifice?"

He nodded. "Don't worry. Everything you need for the sacrifice can be found in the underworld."

He still looked anxious, but there was a certainty in his voice, as if he'd made up his mind on something. Though his words were eerie, I decided not to press him further for now.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

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