Olive watched across the metallic blue landscape of LoFaH.
She'd set her attack drones to auto while she focused on tinkering with the last bits of her and Rhodochrosite's Ceylon assigned project.
They'd need to meet up in person again to put everything they'd worked on together, but she could finish and polish what she had in the meantime. She would be glad to see her friend again.
She was sure she'd be fine if the monsters on her land were similar to the ones here, but she'd gotten used to being worried when she went too long without hearing from her.
Back on Homeworld, sudden radio silence from a gem could just as likely mean the gem in question had been hard as work as it could mean they'd been shattered for some act or another their superior deemed inadequate.
She tried to put these thoughts out of her mind. Rhodi was strong. She'd be fine. The mental image of her friend tearing through hordes of monsters with that massive sword of hers brought a smile to the peridot's face.
She didn't take the landscape in too much, save for the massive metal monster of a building in the distance. The tower was massive and build in an intriguing pattern.
Looking ahead of her, she saw a town. It was build with similar architecture, though was clearly a town and not a massive super structure like what she'd seen in the distance. She'd ask the locals about it, she decided.
But as she approached the town, her body and mind grew more and more tired. It was small at first, enough for her to ignore.
But by the time Olive reached the town, she hardly noticed the consorts which Autosprite referred to as 'bees', ignoring their attempts to offer her a jar of odd viscous moon knows what in favor of finding an inn. She was barely on her feet by the time she reached the room.
She'd never even seen a bed in her life, quite literally given her being a gem and not needing to sleep if she didn't wish to, but upon seeing it some ancient, buried instinct inside her told her its function without her needing to ask about it, and she collapsed onto it; snoring within seconds.
Rhodochrosite had made it quite far across the land before finding enemies that didn't go down in near enough one attack.
Their health bars labeled them as Red, Brown, Spiked, and Hardened Goos respectively.
Of them, Reds were the weakest, simply bubbling red puddles that couldn't accomplish much so long as they were dealt with fast. Browns were less goo and more solid, and backed quite the cinder block punch if not put down. The Spiked were most annoying, bent in odd shapes and flailing faster than anything else she'd come across thus far.
Their spikes also absorbed quite a lot of the force of Rhodi's slashes, so took a bit more clever maneuvering to deal with. She'd only fought one Hardened Goo so far and genuinely didn't want to meet anymore.
Slowest so far, but denser than the Brown Goo, hitting harder than the ogres, and most frighteningly, actually able to think and plan.
The first time she'd seen it, she rushed it to take it out quick, thinking it was a Brown Goo, only to drop into a pit trap the thing had made by scooping at the ground with its solid extremities.
It took quite a few tries to escape the pit, as the Hardened Goo waited at the edge and continually punted her back down when she was nearly free. Finally the fusion grew frustrated, throwing her sword like a javelin as her hands shifted into climbing hooks, letting her dart up quickly.
The sword hadn't gotten deep into the Hardened Goo, so she shifted from spikes to a hammer and brought it down on the handle of her sword, driving it into the goo monster to kill it.
Panting, and finding herself feeling far, far more tired than she should have even with the amount of fighting she'd been doing, the fusion gem took off towards what looked like a town; though when she reached it, she found no one out and about to confirm anything alive.
There were buildings and structures, and nothing about the place looked abandoned. It looked more like it had been a normal town, but everyone had just bolted inside the moment Rhodochrosite approached.
By this point though, Rhodi was far too tired to care. She stumbled to a park bench and collapsed onto it, barely having time to ask herself what was happening.
River stood, shaking, at the edge of the heavily damaged sea spire ruins.
"Alright.." She said shakily, "I'm.. I'm going to do it. I'm going to head out there and explore." The purple pearl was trying to convince herself more than Morganitesprite.
Her Morganite simply rolled her eyes, either not believing her or frustrated that it had taken her this long. She couldn't look her Morganite in the eye after disappointing her so thoroughly. All she could do now was try and fix it. She brought out her staff, and finally stepped out of the spire into the grassy field outside.
"Drop your weapon! Hands in the air!" A voice boomed immediately.
River dropped her staff immediately, hands going up as several large, fuzzy, clawed humanoids popped out of a nearby house and marched on her.
"Oh great, you've gone and alerted your consorts. Deal with these ursa ruffians yourself, otherwise you'll never learn." Morganitesprite said, either not noticing River being marched off towards the building or not minding it.
"W-where am I going?" She asked the consorts as they lead her to the building.
"Trespassing on a royal courtyard is a serious offense," the one in front of her said, "You're being brought to the servants' quarters to work off your sentence with hard labor."
"Oh, delightful!" River said.
She said this genuinely, as being a servant is what she was literally made for, and if this was her land's challenge than she would have it in the bag.
The consort behind her though seemed to take this as a sarcastic comment.
At least she assumed so, as she could think of no other explanation for the strike she received to the back of the head that knocked her out near immediately.
Imperial Jade had found that the chameleon consorts of LoSaM had a very... discreet, method of socializing.
Though the marble city they lived in seemed highly defensible and strong, they all seemed to live in fear not just of the creatures lurking in the wilderness beyond it, but of something.. else.
Something that could be listening at any moment, and wouldn't hesitate to retaliate with extreme prejudice if given anything remotely resembling a reason.
As a result, they'd developed a very indirect, secretive, and heavily implication and suggestion based method of communication to speak without risking being found out. The fusion gem just smiled at the realization of this. She was made ready for a land like this.
Once she'd twigged why they spoke the way they did, communication was child's play. She fit into place with the locals like the missing four armed puzzle piece.
Through careful socializing, Imperial Jade managed to learn that there were several major players to be aware of.
LoSaM had a king and queen, though they... hadn't been themselves as of late, and there was something.. more living in their castle.
There were two beings spoken of in equal amounts of horror; one known as the Denizen, the other the 'Black Goat.'
Even the suggestion of either one's real name was the highest of social fopaux. True names were of little concern though so much as priority level. Both were spoken of as lurking beasts on or within the planet.
Specifics were shaky, but the two seemed to be equally responsible, albeit not intentionally working together, for the fear in the consorts and the monsters roaming outside their cities.
Lastly, and spoken of in remarkably clear terms, were Prospit and Derse, two kingdoms from different planets, their armies waging war on the planet between them, Skaia.
Apparently, either the Denizen or Black Goat had used the smoke created from their war to darken the skies of LoSaM. Without Skaia's light, the plant-life began to die, and the other of the two was able to move in.
Whichever was which, neither sounded good. More information would be needed, if not just more fire power than she had on hand.
A little more shmoosing and and Imperial Jade found herself at the Old Alleyways; hidden pathways that made travel throughout the land trivial.
They'd been mostly abandoned by consorts as of late do to the.. new residence. Imperial Jade could assume fairly easily that these new residence referred to monsters, and while she was entirely correct, she.. was not quite prepared to see the kind of monster in question.
It was nothing like the underlings she'd fought through so easily up to now.
She couldn't tell where it started and where it stopped, looking at it at all was hard without her head aching or stomach turning.
She'd never understood why other gems were so disgusted by organic beings; but looking at this.. this solid yet flowing puddling of meat and flesh, with too many eyes where there shouldn't have been, their only appendages being long, slick tentacles that seemed more to ooze from its body rather than have grown from it like arms or legs... she could understand the kind of bile they felt.
It's health bar referred to it as a Grimy Spawn, and if ever a name of these monsters had been accurate, it was here.
It was perhaps the first monster to pose a real challenge, but not for durability.
It took only a single, powerful strike from the fusion gem to kill it. It was getting close enough to actually hit center mass-and building up the willpower to make physical contact with the thing-that posed an issue.
What the creature lacked in health and durability, it made up for a dozen or more times over with raw strength.
One hit from its tentacles could send her flying back several feet, and she was quite sure that if three or more of them managed to grab her at a time, it would be the end of her. She had to avoid and evade, fighting defensively for once instead of blitzing through.
She struck at its tentacles to damage them, twirled out of the way of its attacks, and when an opening was finally made, charged in; bringing down all four fists onto its body.
The Alleyways were silent with it gone, and with nothing to focus on, Imperial Jade finally noticed how tired she'd become. She sat down against the wall to catch her breath and rest her eyes from looking at that thing for too long.
She must have lost track of time though, as at some point while sitting there, she drifted off to sleep...
White Corundum didn't like the fairies. They were mean.
The glittering little flying folks were buzzing around the massive, seemingly never ending forest of LoGaF.
They were pretty looking.. but so.. mean!
They laughed at her for no reason, making fun of everything she did or tried to do, and Shardsprite refused to fight them for some reason, so White Corundum was left to their own with them. When she'd reached a town amidst the forest, and found the insectoid people living among them, calling themselves the 'ant-folk,' she'd been excited.
Finally, someone she could talk to that wouldn't be mean and her sprite didn't need to attack.. or at least, that's what she'd assumed. But the consorts of her land were about as keen on White Corundum as the fairies were.
They didn't make fun of her or laugh at her though.. they just seemed angry at her, afraid of her even, and she couldn't understand why. She hadn't done anything to these ant people.. she didn't think she had. She didn't remember doing anything to them... had she forgotten?
Her mind had been getting hazier and hazier ever since she'd arrived in the game, but she didn't recall any full on black outs where she could have done anything bad to the locals.
But every time she found more ant folk, they just shouted at her, cursed at her, told her to leave and even chased her off when she didn't move fast enough.
"Can't be having your kind in these parts!" They hissed at her. "You'll only bring ruin!"
Disallowed from the towns, White Corundum would be forced back into the forests where the fairies were waiting to laugh, mock, and after awhile even attack her with little glowing energy bolts or strange words that made the trees or vines reach out and hit her.
She tried to run, but the forest was so overgrown and the fairies so nimble and quick through the forest that she could never get away from them.
Eventually she just collapsed, curling up at the base of a tree, sobbing. The fairies laughed uproarious at this, and seemed to find her too pathetic to even continue attacking, dispersing.
Or perhaps they'd done just enough damage for Shardsprite to be allowed to step in. Either way, she remembered the attacks stopping for some time while she laid curled up against the tree, sobbing.
At some point during her crying fit, she passed out.
Ceylon watched with a smile as her Carnelians made short work of monsters of her land.
They were just as power on offense as defense, and had steadily bashed a path through any and all monsters out of her way.
The only stalling point were any monsters that had taken on either Desert Glass' sand powers or her own future sight-at which point she stepped in herself to attack, relying on sprite power blasts as her ice powers were quite weak-and the Crystal Guards.
Unlike proper gems, Crystal Guards were entirely solid, their bodies a hundred percent crystal all the way through, but walking and fighting. They were extremely durable, very strong, and could fight with proper weapons.
The Carnelians had to work together to beat them down, and after the first two, switched to just fusing every time one cropped up. Finally, they reached their destination.
"My sapphire.. whats that?" One of them questioned as Ceylon floated up towards the spinning, shifting flat disk hovering a few feet off the top of a hill they'd fought their way up to.
"This is a Gate," She said, "All lands within this world have them, and they act like our warp pads, sending us from one planet to another. I have business to attend to on another land. Remain here and guard the Gate until my return."
"Yes my sapphire!" All three Carnelians said in unison, forming a defensive position around the Gate as Ceylon passed through.
On the other side, though, Ceylon felt a unique exhaustion that was not normal for either sprites or gems.
With the knowledge of a sprite and from her visions though, she'd known it was coming; though she didn't know the specifics.
"May as well get it over with quickly." She said, finding a safe spot for herself to drift off to sleep so she, or rather her Dream Self, could awaken on Derse.
White Corundum opened her eyes with some difficulty.
She was so.. so groggy. She felt like she'd been asleep for years. Had she ever been awake. The room was pitch black, the only light coming from a bared window.
No.. as she managed to force her head up from her bed, she realized that the room wasn't black, it was purple. But it was charred and covered in ash, like an explosion had gone off inside.
The bed she was sitting on was heavily damaged, the blankets little more than burnt up scraps and the frame having collapsed, burnt, to the floor. It was less of a bed and more of a bed's roasted remains.
Looking down at her clothes, she found that her own body was covered in ashes as well, her normally paper white skin practically pitch black.
Unlike the ashes around the room though, thin enough to see the purple walls beneath and having blown away entirely from breezes in some places, the ashes on herself seemed to be thick and clinging tightly to her, as she couldn't see her body beneath it, and it wouldn't rub off of her arms or legs no matter how hard she tried.
She was confused by this, by a lot of things actually, but the randomly selected confusing thing that stuck out in her mind was how light she felt.
If she were caked in this much ash dust she should feel weighed down.. but she felt lighter than she ever had in her life.
She was so tired though.. she laid back down, her dark hair bundled up beneath her. She realized she wasn't wearing her helmet as she drifted back to sleep..
Imperial Jade woke with a start, sitting bolt upright in bed. She frantically looked over herself in alarm, then relaxed, letting out a sigh of relief. She was fine.
Well, she was locked in a purple room with bared windows and a vault door, dressed in a dark purple cloak, but she was still together, that was all that mattered.
Smiling at this, she practically sprung out of bed, beginning to dance and spin and jump. She wasn't usually this overwhelmed by her emotions, but she was here for some reason, and too pleased with herself, too pleased to be herself, she couldn't stop herself.
She didn't know how long she danced and sang, only that she ignored the voices from the other side of the locked door telling her to stop.
They wouldn't open the door, that risked her getting out, and they wouldn't seriously try to stop her fun, as that would give her a reason to want to break out, and she was quite sure that they were quite sure that they couldn't stop her if she wanted to.
So she danced. She sang. She laughed. And she didn't stop until she had her fill. When she had, she jumped and collapsed onto her bed, still giggling.
"Never going back." She told herself, "We're together. Forever."
River's eyes fluttered open in her bed. She sat up, looking around curiously at her purple room and purple gown.
Her eyes narrowed. She'd only awake for thirty seconds and was already a hundred and ten percent done with this whole situation.
Seeing the bars on the window and the locks on the door only fanned the flame that ignited upon her waking up. River took out her staff, taking a stance in front of the door.
"Gang way assholes!" This was all the guard on the other side of the door heard before losing consciousness as the vault locked door to River's room was forced out hard, slamming into the back of their head.
River marched out, twirling her staff with a smirk as she looked over her captors. They were odd looking. Not gems to be sure.
They were humanoid, but with thick and pitch black shell like skin and smooth features. And the ones immediately outside her room were of the bulkier variety, armed with heavy militia weapons.
They charged, presumably to put her back into her room, but River was having none of that, not tonight. She sidestepped and swung her staff down, striking the leading guard's lower legs and causing them to fall hard onto the ground.
She jumped back, letting the second guard trip over the first and striking his head with her staff to keep him down. The third crashed into the second and was struck in the jaw and dropped.
The purple pearl repeated this process more or less her entire way down the stairs and to the front door, which she forced open even easier than she had the door to her room.
She smiled, dispelling her weapon and sauntering out into the cool night air. As she walked, she drew quite a bit of attention; which she wasn't surprised by.
One of the shell folk, a very clearly female one given her figure, approached her. She had malice in her eyes, but whatever she was going to say or did went unsaid or undone, as the moment she was within arms reach, River pulled in her close, turning her, dipping her, and leaning in to the most intense, heated kiss the shelled woman had ever been a part of; the Carapacian woman far too stunned to react.
She pulled away after nearly a minute, sending her off with a slight twirl as she made her way into a nearby bar.
The woman stared in the direction she'd gone, the malice gone from her expression. She weighed her options, shrugged, ditched her knife, and followed River into the bar.
Ceylon woke with a loud, unladylike yawn, and if anyone was bothered Ceylon would be happy to politely tell them to fuck off.
She stretched out her arms and legs and.. oh.. oh right she had legs. For some reason she'd thought she didn't.. that she'd gone all ghostly and glowy.
But nope, she was her normal, solid self; save for her normal blue dress having been replaced with a deep purple one. She looked around the room, determining in record time and with no need for future vision just how cosmically bored she was.
She looked through the bars of her window down at the street down below the spire where she was trapped.
"Well hello there~" The sapphire purred at the sight of the bulkier, stronger looking of the carapace folk down below.
Prepping for war, there were plenty of soldiers out and about. Ceylon had never been more disappointed in having only one eye than when she spotted a group of the buffer soldiers without shirts. Her future vision could fill in the gaps of course, but it also, disappointingly, didn't show her down there with them.
That couldn't be right, and she wouldn't stand for it. She tried the door, only to find it just as locked as the window. Her frown and desperation both growing, she shook, knocked, pounded, spoke then shouted through the door.
She could tell with her future vision there were people on the other end-ones she wouldn't have minded having on the same side of the door as herself-but her pleas fell on deaf ears even as she told them so.
She slumped against the locked door, disappointed and frustrated.
Rhodochrosite woke up and stretched out. Her muscles were stiff. Must have been out for some time. No time like the present to get back to work.
Alas, the purple prison room she'd been locked up in didn't seem to have much in the way of supplies.
Thankfully, she never went anywhere without her tools. From the gem on her right arm, she brought out her forge. It slammed into the ground, the weight of it and the molten metal within cracking the floor. That's what they got for shoddy work Rhodi felt. She brought out her anvil, tools, and spare metal out as well; using the shattered up material from the floor as well.
She thankfully, last minute, realized that the purple gown she was wearing wasn't a part of her natural form and would indeed burn up in the heat of her forge.
She placed the clothing in her gem, leaving her wearing nothing as she set to work melting down and shaping metal; her bare body bathed in the warm light of the forge and soon glistening slightly from the sweat.
She didn't want to waste any time specifically shifting her form to re-clothe herself, especially since she was all alone up here.
It certainly wasn't her fault if a certain peridot happened to have a spire across from her, with a window pointed in her direction to give her a perfect view of what was happening inside.
And if, by chance, such a peridot happened to be an olive peridot, it was of no mind to Rhodi as she set to her work, making motions that, admittedly, weren't the best for working on her metal, but would, potentially, make excellent poses for anyone-and Rhodi most certainly didn't know of anyone who might be doing so, nor what they'd be doing with their hands as they did-who happened to see her as she worked.
And the knowing smirk she got on her face whenever she was looking away from the window, and its returning to a straight face whenever it was within line of sight of said window and the aforementioned potential green gems, merely a coincidence.