Extra Credit

Remeck squirmed as Roxanne pulled him away and managed to slip free for just a moment before her hand latched onto his pack and jerked hard, forcing him to stumble after her least he trip and fall flat on his back.  In the fast dimming green light of the cavern, Remeck scanned the surroundings, taking in all that he could.  A glint caught his eyes, and his flailing arm reached out, catching hold of an outcropping piece of crystal that crumpled beneath his fingertips leaving him with a fistful of shards and something extra.  Just as the pair of them cleared the threshold of the cavern, and the light finally died away did Remeck manage to twist his pack out of Roxanne’s grip and straighten himself.  In all likelihood it had been Roxanne pausing in the darkness that had allowed him to break free.

Rotating his shoulders to readjust his pack and jacket which had been skewed in the backwards pull, Remeck retrieved his torch.  Thumbing the power switch produced a fitful sputter of light which allowed them to see absolutely nothing.  However after slamming the butt end of the light against the palm of his hand, the flashlight managed a modest amount of illumination.  The first thing he did was flash the beam of light back into the cavern they had exited which actually seemed to deepen the gloom within.  Next he played the light over Roxanne and realized that whatever unease he was feeling being here, she seemed to feel it worse.  She seemed to be visibly shaking, or perhaps it was his own hand shaking as it held the light.  Still, he took solace in the fact that the two bodies that had lying there were not the two SeeD members he had been sent to find.   

"Are we going to move or what?" Roxanne growled as she attempted to grab his arm again.  

"Hold on a second."  Remeck snapped, jerking away from her, making a show of how at ease he felt despite the waves of uneasiness pulsing from the darkened chamber behind him.  He told himself that there was nothing to fear back there; and he more than half believed it, but still, there was something about the place that made his hackles rise.  Instead of focusing on the oppressive feeling permeating the area, he turned his attention and the light towards the item in his hand.  It was Materia, a small orb of emerald green, formed from condensed mako energy; which some called the lifeblood of the planet.  Similar to the Fire Materia Remeck had equipped in his beret, this one had a very different purpose.

"Cure Materia."  Remeck said thoughtfully.  He eyed Roxanne for a moment and offered the Materia to her.  "You know how to use it?"  At her blank stare, he sighed.  Materia wasn't so common in the country of Baron where everyone and their mothers knew about it.  Other than specialists like SeeDs, most people probably would never have encountered it before; the vast majority of Baron's magical might relied heavily on actual mages whom studied their magics for years to channel their magical powers to great effect.  In comparison, Materia offered far less bang for the amount of energy required to use, yet it offered flexibility, allowing a person to specialize in other areas and still be able to pull out a random surprise that an opponent might not be expecting in the heat of battle.  His explanation was short and to the point, and once again he offered Roxanne the Materia.

"I don't have any slotted equipment." she protested.  Remeck eyed her clothes and nodded.  Slotted equipment, like Materia, in Baron were rare and usually custom made.  Luckily, Remeck remembered that Andrial had left a slotted bracelet with him to carry for her before they had parted ways.  Fishing in his pack, he retrieved the piece of jewelry and slotted the Materia into its single slot.

"Keep this for now, it might be useful later."  He could've kept it himself, the goggles he kept around his neck actually had a pair of linked slots, but he felt it might be better to spread the abilities between them for the moment.

Roxanne fingered the bracelet for a moment, but before she had time to formulate speech, Remeck had already started moving again.  Casting one last furtive glance back at the darkened crystal chamber, he stepped around Roxanne and began leading them away.  This was a Crystal Temple.  The next step was to secure it, and if possible, find out what had happened to the other two SeeD members.

They hadn't traveled far before Remeck began to wonder if they might not have gotten lost.  In their haste to get away from the unsettling chamber, they may have wound up taking a wrong turn somewhere.  Just as he was about to give up and turn back, the flashlight in his hands gave out again, plunging them into the dark.  Grumbling to himself Remeck began to fiddle with the light again.  

"Wait." Roxanne whispered softly, "I think I can see something."  Remeck paused as well, looking around, and realized that his eyes were adjusting to some sort of natural light that was in the tunnels.  Bio-luminescent fungus.  This was now clearly not the way they had come in, but at the same time, neither of them wanted to turn around and return to the darkness behind them.   By silent consent, they both started forward again, breathing a sigh of relief as the fungus became thicker the further they went, bathing the tunnels in a surreal green yellow light.  Even so, with the benefits of better lighting, came new things to add to their unease.  Cobwebs, thick and dry enough that the pair could brush the hanging silk aside like curtains began to fill the tunnels.

Slowly at first, Remeck thought he caught snippets of sounds echoing through the caves as they moved, and as they advanced, the more certain he became.  It was the sounds of fighting.  Unconsciously, Remeck began to hurry his pace, moving at a jog as the noise of fighting and an ominous chittering and clicking reverberated around them.  There was a roar that cut through the din, a roar in a voice he recognized.  The jog became a flat out sprint.

Before him the tunnel suddenly ballooned into a hollow cavern, and the floor dropped out from under his feet.  In his haste he had quite literally run off the edge of a ledge that seemed to rim the room he was in.  Tucking himself into a ball, he hit the slope and rolled himself back to his feet, sliding down the incline with a clatter of rocks and dust, trying to make sense of what he was seeing in front of him.  The chamber writhed with bodies.  Eight legged monstrosities near enough 6 feet long and 3 feet tall scuttled about making counting them near enough impossible, though, judging from the sets of malevolent red eyes ominously glowing from darkened portions of the caverns, there were more than warranted counting in the complex. 

Slipping between the giant spiders on the ground, clambering on top of them swarmed an army of Goblinoids, beating with fists, stabbing with crude implements of war.  It was a battleground unlike anything Remeck had ever experienced before.  From the midst of the battle came a twinkling light which caught Remeck’s eyes as he hit the ground.  Arrows flashing through the darkness; a weapon far too sophisticated for a Goblinoid to utilize effectively. 

His arrival hardly went unnoticed.  No sooner had his feet settled on the floor of the cavern, when a spider immediately turned towards him and lunged.  Remeck grimaced and countered, thrusting his spear between the spider’s mandibles.  Sabre Legs, Remeck noted grimly as the spider’s forelegs struck sparks off the stone on either side of him.  Named for the hardened exoskeleton that armored its body, more specifically the sharpened edge that ran along each of the spider’s legs, they were tough.  True to instinctual drive, the spider thrust forward, further impaling itself and nearly ripping the spear from Remeck’s grip. 

“Heads up!”  came a call from above him.  Pulling back as hard as he could, he watched as Roxanne dropped to the ground, her katana flashing, splitting the spider in two. 

“Keep close.”  Remeck said as he rushed past her, trusting Roxanne to follow.

The chaos of the battlefield allowed the two of them to reach the source of the arrows without any direct confrontation with either Goblionid or Sabre Leg.  Vaulting onto the small mound at the center of the cavern Remeck called out to the hunter where she stood near a few Goblinoids whom were facing out at the encroaching spiders.


“Remeck.  Flag the Goblionids as friendly.”  The hunter nodded in acknowledgement of the other SeeD member as she lifted her medium repeating crossbow, letting a spent case fall to her feet with a hiss of steam. 


“I assume you heard him earlier.”  Danielle pulled on a latch loading another bolt from the fresh cartridge.  “He got dragged off in that direction.”  She motioned towards another entrance in the cavern.  Tossing her blond ponytail back over her shoulder, she adjusted her glasses before glancing up.  In one smooth motion, she lifted her crossbow and accompanied by a snap and hiss fired two bolts upwards.  There was a chittering and she ducked aside, as the body of a Sabre Leg fell to the ground a pair of bolts embedded in its eyes.

Stepping forward, Remeck buried his spear in the back of the spider’s still twisting body and twisted, stilling it.  “Orders?”

“Same direction as they took Kilkin.  We want the Brood Queen.”  Danielle growled something over her shoulder at one of the Goblinoids whom promptly snarled something back.  “The Blu’tha clan will keep the spiders occupied here so that we should have a straight shot at the Queen.  Let’s go.”

“You speak Goblinoid?”  Roxanne asked incredulously from behind Remeck.  Danielle looked at the swordswoman and then back at Remeck, eyebrow arched.

“Roxanne, IC.”  Remeck turned to Roxanne, “This is Danielle, SeeD 2nd class.”

Danielle nodded at Roxanne.  “Extra-Curricular class at the academy.  Come on then.”

The End

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