Slime Vortex

a slimy, glowing vortex

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These days, the Clockwork Spire is known as one of the more forgiving dungeons for new adventurers. While the tricky jumps and gear-focused puzzles led would-be heroes further up the massive tower, the central column was a harrowing hollow pit that constantly threatened to punish any sloppy footing. A single missed step can send an adventurer plummeting all the way down, past the ground level and into the cavernous abyss below the Spire. A fall from that height would be certain death for all but the most enchanted of spell slingers, and there weren't many of those poking around a dungeon built with physics and machinery. But this was no fear for the adventurers who came to scale the tower, for it was widely known that some ways down into the pit was the slime vortex. A grotesque, churning mass of dungeon slime perpetually turning inwards on itself, with a putrid purple glow illuminating chunky green mass of jelly. Falling into the vortex was as disgusting as it looked like it would be, but otherwise it was a rather safe place to land. After a few uncomfortable seconds, the slime would pass you through and shunt you off into a pathway that led up and out to the fields in front of the Clockwork Tower. Returning to town reeking of slime was sure to attract a few laughs from your friends, but that was a small price to pay compared to the piles of dead adventurers that can be found tucked away in the harder dungeons.

It wasn't always this way. There are bodies are the bottom of that abyss, of those who risked the climb before the slime vortex was in place. On the top of the pile is the long forgotten corpse of Mavenya, a kind and ambitious young woman who fell at the tragic age of 14. Her family never got to learn just what it was that inspired Mav to venture into the Spire. Her father Lem had always known she had the heart of a hero, but she seemed content to train at the academy. She wasn't the type to go an adventure solo, and especially not unannounced. So when she went missing, Lem spent days checking with friends, scouring childhood hiding spots, and posting flyers before he considered checking the local dungeons. Lem wasn't much of an adventurer by nature, but he'd been through the academy when he was young and kept his body in shape with his blacksmith work. He knew enough to poke around the first few floors of a dungeon, and he couldn't imagine Mavenya getting much further than that alone. On the second floor of the Clockwork Spire, hooked on a wall of knives, he saw the blue fabric of Mav's favorite shawl.

Confusion, hope, fear, dread, his mind flooded with boiling emotions. Before he knew it, he was sprinting up the tower walkways. Leaping over broken staircases, ducking under obvious traps, and vaulting up walls with the fervor of a mountain toad. That he was conquering a dungeon barely entered his mind as he chased any sign of his daughter, any excuse not to give up hope. Thirty floors up, doubt began to creep across his mind. It'd been days, even if Mav had climbed to the very top, then what? With no food or shelter, how long could she last? And if she wasn't stuck, why didn't she return like any of the other triumphant challengers? He tried desperately to fight it, but the realization that he was seeking nothing more than closure, at best, ate away ate his mind. On the 34th floor, as he leaped across a basin of razor wire to grab a chain, he caught sight of a small pile of bones. It was only a glimpse as the chain swung, but his fear capitalized on the opportunity. In a blind panic, he leaped towards the ledge where the bones lie, a leap he should have known was far outside his reach. Lem did not get to see the bones again, to learn that they weren't the bones of a young girl. Lem only saw the abyss, speeding up towards him at an alarming pace as he fell.

Instinct kicked in, Lem jammed his hands into his pack and produced his precious potion belt. Levitation, Invulnerability, Metamorph, Grow.. and a few more who's purpose escaped him. As the abyss grew dark and the panic took hold, distinguishing the colors of the potions became impossible. Tearing off corks, Lem did his best to imbibe anything that could make it to his mouth, ANYTHING is better than splattering at the bottom. Almost immediately, he felt arcane energies swell up within him. His mind cleared, his body relaxed, and he began to grow while his fall slowed to a leisurely float. He twisted around to get a view as he tried to figure out how far he'd fallen and figure out what to do next, and that's when he saw her. Lying a few stories below, his darling daughter dead on a pile of bodies. What relief he'd found with his potions turned instantly to sickly grief. A shudder of abject anguish deep in his chest sparked something, and his flesh began to melt. Too far in shock, Lem couldn't resist, and the reckless mix of potions in his gut found a catalyst in his grief. He burst open, goopy green slime pouring out of every part of him, and swelling up to seal the abyss. Before his mind turned fully to jelly, he gazed mournfully at his daughter and thought "At least, she'll be the last."

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Art and Writing: 
Yamen
Fractal rendered with Fractorium.