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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 12:49 am 
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(This follows my earlier posts:
http://mystonline.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8238
http://mystonline.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8430
This one will be in a somewhat different format, as you will see...)

(Note: I wasn't sure whether this was more appropriate on this forum (fanfic) or the DRC forum (in-character). I asked the moderators, and they said here. Just to settle that. :)


I finally got back to Plum Lake. I apologize -- again -- for the delay. There was Payiferen, see; and then when I returned to Plum Lake, it was night. "Night", I suppose I should say. The sun was still visible, just... very dim. Like something was obscuring it. It was as dark as night, anyway. I didn't think it was a good idea to keep trooping around in the vines without being able to see.

But this weekend "night" ended, so I went back today. (After spending last night on intensive marker-hunting! Enjoyable, but I wanted a change of scenery.) And I'm sure I'm near the hilltop.

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Last edited by belford on Sun Apr 15, 2007 2:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 2:21 am 
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It wasn't a campfire.

The vegetation thins out near the top of the hill. The crown is bare rock... with a *crater* in the middle. That volcano in the distance? It isn't the only one. I'm standing on its baby brother. A thin column of smoke rises steadily.

Except the ground doesn't look volcanic. Just cracked, weathered rock. More cracked around the hilltop, as if some force had... pushed upwards, and broken through at the very top. Come to think of it, the big volcano to the north (I'm calling that "north") isn't really a traditional ash-cone either.

I can see more hills from up here, scattered in all directions. I should fetch binoculars and see if all of them are leaking smoke.

It's lovely up here. I just wish I didn't have to hike through two miles of vine maze every time I link in.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 2:22 am 
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Folks, I'd appreciate some input.

I went back with binoculars. My suspicion was right. This entire Age is "volcanic." That is, some kind of underground vapor has broken through to the surface in many places -- usually the tops of hills. (Quite possibly there's an subterranean pressure that's formed the hills in the first place.)

It's not true vulcanism, though. Not like we've seen in Gira. I approached the hilltop crater more closely... and it's not hot. No smell of sulfur or burning. Just an irregular hole in the rocks, maybe six feet across, with white vapor pouring up out of it.

The vapor is pretty thick at the crater mouth, but it dissipates fairly quickly as it rises. Like steam on a warm dry day. But it's *not* steam. I took a cautious sniff -- no comments please -- and there's no sense of moisture. It doesn't fog my glasses. And it smells... dusty lemons is the closest I can describe. Citrus oil and electricity.

I think I could climb down into the crater. It's not a smooth shaft; there are ledges and protrusions at every level. And some of them have been smoothed and flattened, in a definite downward spiral. Between that and the trail that led to this hilltop, I'm quite sure people went down that hole.

But the trail continues. It descends the east side of the hill (Plum Lake is to the west), and it's wider there. I haven't followed it yet. But I can see wooden structures of some sort in the next valley. Crude log-built towers is all I can make out, even with the binoculars.

So the question: do I explore the crater first, or go investigate the structures?

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 12:07 pm 
Do the task that's nearest,
Though it's dull at whiles...

The crater. If there's nothing of interest, then move on. That's what I would do.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 12:21 pm 
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maybe there will some i nformations about the craters in the tower, so i'll have a look at the tower first :D


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 3:13 pm 
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Hah. Tie vote. I could wait for a third, but I only have this morning to keep exploring -- busy on Earth in the afternoon -- so I won't wait. Coin-flipping time. :)

Down the crater it is.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 3:15 pm 
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And I have returned to tell the tale, so I didn't suffocate or anything.

The crater is a very peculiar geological formation. It's not the conical hole that a volcanic explosion would create. It's not a lava tube, or an erosion gully, or the kind of crack you'd see after an earthquake. And it's not a drill shaft, although (as I said) parts of it have been shaped for easier access.

It looks most like a tunnel dug by hand... if someone could dig through rock with an enormous shovel, straight down. Irregular walls, lots of random chunky angles. Descending isn't quite a cakewalk, but there are handholds -- iron bars -- knocked into the wall at the tricky parts. No question that people went down there.

The mist, or vapor, rises through the shaft in a steady stream. The farther down I went, the thicker it was.

I got quite a ways down, and then started to see some kind of fuzzy white growth on the walls. I figured that was enough for a while, and returned to the surface to see if I was going to fall over in convulsions or anything. Haven't yet.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 4:04 pm 
Well, we know some people who used to be quite good at digging... :)


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 6:04 pm 
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Certainly, but the D'ni were a lot more... professional looking.

I mean, they were the ones with giant digging machines. You can see the places in Ae'gura where they cut away the native stone -- the surfaces aren't polished, but they're machine-worked and very flat. (I'm talking about, for example, the walkway between the Museum and the Courtyard.)

This looks more like brute force. Only brute force that goes through stone like clay.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 6:05 pm 
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I went back down the shaft.

That white fuzz wasn't fungus at all, or any kind of plant. It was a fine crystalline growth. As I went farther down, the crystals grew larger -- like glittering sand. It was on everything, although fortunately it didn't stick to metal. I was able to brush the stuff off each handhold bar as I reached it.

Farther down yet, the crystals formed tiny rods, then larger ones; crayon-sized, pencil-sized. The walls were nearly obscured with crystal growth here. The stuff wasn't pure white -- more milky, with fine striations of translucency.

The shaft narrowed perceptibly, with heavy chunks of crystal and banks of prism pressing inward. But I could start to see a dim green glow coming up through the mist from below. So I kept going.

Until finally the passage simply choked itself off. The blocks of crystal below me were massive, and angled together until there was no room to descend further. The vapor poured out from the crevices between them.

The green light was... I couldn't tell where it was coming from. It was shining right up through the crystal, I guess, and illuminating the mist. Still pretty dim, even at that level. But not much daylight was filtering down through the mist, so the green glow was welcome.

I'm pretty sure something is embedded in the crystal, down at the bottom of the shaft. I could make out a circular shape inside the wall. But I couldn't see a way to reach it.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 7:01 pm 
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I suggest a Maintainer team member should check this out... might just be dangerous. What if the crystals are sentient? What if they penetrate your skin, or you inhale the fine mesh fibres and discover that you too are beginning to change? What if you... of endless possiblities of terror.

Eee gads, man, get out of there before you infect the whole explorer community. :shock:

Well, at least think about wearing a medical mask before you explore that area, and I'd run down to your favorite Gahreesen tank and get a Maintainer Suit ready just in case... better have some help from the Medical Guilds too.... Shiloh is an expert in inner cavern med advice.

Well, good luck... let us know what the green light is... I hope for your sake that it isn't alive :wink:

but then again, I hope it is, too... :)


your buddy in the zone, earthwiz

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 1:41 am 
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Pff, yeah, crystals of terror. You know, the DRC never inspected Relto either. Maybe the pine trees will start growing out of your ears. :)

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 5:25 am 
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I don't mean to trivialize the problem, really. But I have to take some shortcuts to keep this thread moving. I'm dealing with Plum Lake the way I've dealt with all the other Ages I've explored. Look around, try things, and assume that nothing is really dangerous. (As long as I keep my Relto book at hand! Which I will, trust me.) Let's stick with that.

Also, use what I've got on hand. I can't haul an extendable ladder up that hill, sorry. :)

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 Post subject: Sure buddy...
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 5:31 am 
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Sure buddy...

Just be careful out there, we'd like you to come back in one piece. But I'm sure you know what your doing, so enjoy yourself and get some some nice pics for the imager and send us some back, too. :)

your buddy, earthwiz

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 6:04 pm 
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As nobody has any further clever ideas about the crater... (This isn't a knock. I can't find anything else to do down there either. Yet.)

From the hilltop, another quarter-hour of hiking brought me to the towers.

There are two of them, but they're situated on either side of a large square pit. I don't mean a crater -- this is clearly artificial. It's forty feet across, maybe twenty feet deep, and the walls are smooth white tile. The pit floor is flat, but there's a lot of mud down there, so I can't tell what it's made of. Four heavy hatch covers stick up above the mud, one near each wall. (All closed.)

The towers themselves aren't very exciting. Two small wooden shacks on stilts, raised twenty feet in the air. Each has a doorway facing the pit. One is on the west side of the pit -- that's the one I can reach, obviously -- and one is on the opposite side.

What's more interesting is the T-shaped structure *between* the towers. It rises up out of the pit: a long horizontal pole, of dull metal, balanced on a heavier vertical pole. The vertical is rooted right in the center of the pit, and it's about thirty feet high -- meaning that the horizontal beam is ten feet above ground level. And forty feet long -- the full width of the pit.

And a rope ladder hangs from each end of the beam. The western one is right in front of me, as I stand between the tower and the pot. Annoyingly, the ladder is only twenty feet long. So it only goes halfway up to the tower *and* only halfway down to the bottom of the pit.

Oh yes: the brush presses tightly in on the north side of the pit, but there's enough room on the south to circumnavigate it without falling in. I think.

So now what? Ladders, trail around the pit, towers? Back to the crater? Or feel free to ask further questions about the things I've encountered.

(Of course I don't mean *back* to the crater. I Reltoed out to post this message, so it's actually a question of whether I *stop* at the crater next time I link back to Plum Lake. Take the back-and-forth for granted when you read this thread -- I won't mention it much.)

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