28 Monty’s debu
Upon receiving a whistle in response to their own, the dark elves atop the dam-like structure gave another, signalling the ashen maiden to enter via the large open gate.
It did so a short moment later, after which, the elves in question used one of two nearby levers to close the gate.
With nowhere to go, the water provided via the waterfall, soon began filling the space between it and the dam, causing the water level, and ship, to quickly gain elevation.
The dark elves watched it cautiously as it rose towards their location.
"Strange," said one, "a ship design I do not recognize."
"Yet it is made of our forest's ebony," she added, tilting her head curiously.
The one who had originally signalled the ship replied to her, she wore a leaf at the end of a necklace as her only distinguishing feature.
"Indeed," she answered, "however, they know our highest level password."
"We must allow them passage... or kill them," she concluded.
That was no more discussion required beyond those few words.
All two dozen dark elves present, excluding the one who had given the signal, then raised their bows of black ebony towards the Ashen Maiden, and in perfect sync, drew back their arrows without the slightest effort.
They watched in silence as the ship in question grew closer and closer, eventually reaching their location.
At this point, it was blocked from moving forwards by a second steel gate.
The dark elf who wore the leaf sniffed the air around it, slightly, and then recoiled in disgust as she held her nose.
"A dungeon," she said coldly as she glared at it, "unacceptable!"
"A dungeon dares to learn our secrets!" Spat the dark elf as she drew her sword and prepared to fend off waves upon waves of minions. However, none came.
Suspecting something, she made a motion with her hand, causing a few of the elves to fire their arrows. They bounced harmlessly off the ship's hull and sank into the water surrounding the ship.
"Indestructibility," she muttered, watching the arrows sink, "tsk, that rules out just allowing the storm to take care of it for us..."
The elf sighed, sparing a casual glance to the approaching storm before quickly looking back to the ship in question.
"You two board it with me," she ordered to two nearby elves, "let's destroy the core."
They were her two strongest subordinates.
Both immediately lowered their bows, taking a knee as they replied.
"Of course!" They said together in perfect harmony.
The leader then turned to the rest of her group.
"Three of you go to Nightingale Village for reinforcements," she commanded, "another three to Trueleaf Village, as well, to inform them of the security breach."
"The rest of you stay put unless I signal otherwise via my everleaf," she said, motioning to her leaf necklace, "and immediately drop the ship if it's in danger of breaching the gate."
After ensuring that her orders had been received, The dark elf turned and leapt towards the ship, using the porthole covers as footholds to allow her to reach the ship's main deck.
The two elves she had ordered to accompany her mimicked her actions a moment later, landing on either side of her wielding a bow and duel swords respectively.
There was no one but them present on the deck.
The leader quickly scanned the area with her eyes before focusing on the door leading to the officer's quarters, beyond which lay the captain's quarters.
Cautiously, she made her way to the door and attempted to open it. It was locked, as was the map room above it.
She then turned to the ship's only other entrance, the door at the base of the forecastle deck, on the opposite end of the ship.
The dark elf sighed, and then proceeded towards it.
The leader examined the words written upon the door as she approached it. 'Tina's Tavern,' it said plainly.
The door was the slightest bit ajar and gently drifted opened as the dark elves approached it, revealing a dining area, and a counter attended by a single catkin, and occupied by a single elf.
She looked totally unperturbed by the presence of the elves.
"Anything I can get for you, ladies?" Asked Tina, polite and wearing a smile.
"We have pie," she added, holding up a potato and hamburger based dish that did not meet the definition of a pie in the slightest.
"Shepherd's pie," clarified the catkin.
The leading dark elf made a motion towards the bartender with one finger, signalling her subordinate to put an arrow through her head. Which she did.
Tina's body collapsed behind the counter, the confusing pie landing safely atop it.
Eleanor sighed, before then turning to face the three intruders.
"Good evening, sisters," she said calmly, "please do try to refrain from killing the staff, as the respawn times are not short."
"Hello, Vivian" she added towards the one who wore a leaf.
The leader three dark elves stared at her with slightly widened eyes.
"El..." She whispered softly.
"When I'd heard the counsel had sold you to the humans as a slave, I-..." She began, but then stopped herself.
"The dungeon has you, doesn't it?" She inquired bitterly.
"Very much so," she replied, "along with the roughly fifty elves and beastkin in this ship's prison."
Vivian frowned. El continued.
"I would like to negotiate their release on behalf of my-." She began. However, she quickly received an arrow through her head in the same manner as Tina.
The dark elf wiped a single tear.
"Let's end this dungeon before she respawns," she ordered as she removed Eleanor's necklace from her body, taking her key ring, as well, "I don't want to kill her twice."
After this, and a brief exploration of the kitchen, the group immediately made their way below deck using the staircase in the dining area.
Daisy and Crystal watched the trio as they progressed, both sitting on the bed in the Captain's quarters and watching via a rectangular display that floated midair.
"When did you move the stairs?" Asked Crystal.
"A few minutes ago, through the display," she replied.
"It had to be moved for the sake of preventing water from flooding lower levels," explained the lich, "in the event of the ship being submerged by the storm, I mean."
Crystal nodded thoughtfully.
"This screen... thing, is so convenient..." muttered the imp, as she watched them descend the staircase.
The display was comparable to the best TV she had ever seen.
Alexa chimed in.
"Yes, you also have the ability to watch via map, or astral project to their location, as well, if you wish to watch them in person," she suggested," only within the dungeon territory, however."
Crystal considered it briefly, and then quickly declined. She'd rather enjoy the nostalgic TV... box... thing. It felt less like stalking when compared to literally following them around.
The avatar, remembering Tina and El, then frowned and asked a question.
"And you're absolutely sure that they'll respawn, right?" She inquired, more than a little worried.
The lich rested her skull against the top of her mistress' head.
"You're too nice for this world..." she complained, "exactly as I once was."
"They'll be fine," she added.
Crystal wanted to ask about what she meant, but Daisy, suspecting such, quickly continued.
"How did floor one turn out?" She inquired.
Crystal paled slightly and looked away.
The three dark elves, upon reaching the bottom of the stairs, found themselves in a grassy humid hallway, adorned with fog and gravestones of every type. A T-intersection existed to their front, left and right being the only options. The path to the left then split into another two directions, as did the path to the right.
"Stay together," she ordered her companions.
The dark elf then produced a tiny ball of flame at her fingertip and placed it against the wall on her right. She then continued forwards, leaving a line soot on the wall as she walked.
Vivian followed the right wall and never left it, knowing she would reach the exit eventually if she did so.
A few minutes later her group reached a large iron gate, behind which was a large graveyard-like room with only one entrance, excluding the three doors directly opposite the group's current location.
The doors stood atop a stone stage and looked crypt-like. They were labelled, one, two, and three, respectively by the numbers carved into the centre of each door.
The height of the room's ceiling was unknown as it was shrouded in both darkness and fog.
Standing directly in front of door number two was a scarecrow.
It wore back dress shoes, and a black leather belt, both with silver buckles, a fancy black suit with two long sharp coattails attached, under which was a white button-up dress shirt, a crimson bow-tie which complimented his pocket square of the same colour, a dapper black top hat wrapped with a strip of red fabric, and it held a very stylish walking cane of ebony and silver in the white glove of its left hand.
Its stylish clothes contrasted heavily with its body, however.
Alexa had designed it using the knowledge of various 'creepypastas' from Crystal's memories, after all.
The scarecrow's skin was actual skin, visibly stitched together at the back of its head, a single ebony button as its right eye, only more bare skin for its left one. Its grin was wide and filled with greyish-brown human teeth. The corners of its mouth ripped to where either ear should have been located, poorly stitched as if to intentionally make it even more frightening, giving it a permanent grin like that of the Cheshire cat.
It stood, arms outstretched, head slumped to one side in a typical scarecrow-like pose.
The dark elf with the bow immediately fired four arrows into it without being ordered to, one in the centre of its head, one through each lung's presumed location, and one through the place its heart should be.
It made no reaction.
Vivian glared at the creepy thing.
"Even more reason to kill this dungeon, I suppose," she muttered, before turning to address her companions.
None of them noticed that the scarecrow in question was not actually affixed to a post as scarecrows normally were, or any other form of support for that matter.
"We'll each check a door," she ordered, "be wary of trap-."
She was promptly interrupted by the sound of the iron gate behind her closing, and the amused voice of a man.
"Sorry! Dear guests of mine! But one door at a time is the limit!" Boomed the voice, which seemed to come from every direction at once.
He spoke sporadically, always raising his voice and adding upwards inflections at the ends of each bundle of words.
The leader turned to face the scarecrow, suspecting it to be the culprit, only to realize that it was now mere inches away, standing in a totally different pose.
The thing stood on one foot as it leaned playfully against its cane, using Vivian's own sword to give a tip of its hat.
As she stood there, momentarily shocked as to how her blade had been stolen, two cages fell from the ceiling, each capturing one of her two equally stunned companions.
She had lost before the battle had even started.
"Now then, little lady!" Mused the scarecrow, "won't you play a little game with little old me!?"
"I'll bet yours against mine!" He offered, motioning, with her sword to the two elves he had captured, and then to Vivian herself.
"But first, an introduction!" Continued the scarecrow.
"I'm Monty," it whispered, before then making an exaggerated bow.
"And you are, my dear!?" He inquired, extending his cane to her as if it were a microphone.
Vivian hesitated, examined her surroundings, and then sagged her shoulders upon realizing she was now at the dungeon's mercy.
"I'm... Vivian," she muttered solemnly.
A stone podium then rose from the floor directly to her front, the name 'Vivian' carved neatly into its surface.
It was time for the show to begin.
Meanwhile, Tina and Eleanor had already been respawned using DP to negate the wait time, as Crystal wouldn't cease worrying about them despite Daisy's best efforts to comfort her. Both promptly joined the imp and the lich in the Captain's quarters to watch the situation via the floating screen.
"Are you guys okay?" She inquired hesitantly, and was greatly relieved when they both gave their affirmation in response.
Dungeon minions, as it turns out, didn't really feel pain unless they themselves wanted to, something Crystal was extremely grateful for.