Michael and Franklin
Level 4- (20/40) EXP / Level 3- (14/30) EXP (+3 EXP)
Location: Forest Temple
A collab with: @Lugubrious
The spider, despite its terrifying appearance, fell easily to Michael and Franklin's combined firepower. The two quickly moved on to the next room, weapons at the ready. Fortunately for them, there didn't seem to be any more enemies there. Lowering their weapons somewhat, they moved on to the braziers in the center of the room. They could see someone, presumably the person they needed to rescue, stuck in the middle of the multi-colored fires. Franklin stepped forward and tried to get past them, but the fires spread out to block his path, somehow not burning him. "Woah!" He shouted, taking a step back in surprise. "What the hell?"
Michael instinctively raised his Uzi as the fires shot up, only lowering it once he saw Franklin was unharmed. "You alright?" He asked, and Franklin nodded in response. "Alright...well, this isn't the weirdest thing I've seen, but I don't know how we're supposed to get past this..."
Almost as soon as he finished speaking, the fire began to move. The two took several steps back as the fire began to shape itself into several vaguely foxlike creatures, dancing in the fire. Their singing caused the two to step back further, keeping a tight grip on their guns. However, the creatures just continued to dance around the fire, leaving the two alone. They lowered their weapons somewhat, sharing a look. "What the fuck was that?"
Franklin shook his head. "Something fucked up, that's what. But it sounds like this is how we're gonna get past that fire."
"I...I guess, yeah." Michael looked around the room. There were four doors, opposite the four braziers. "Probably in one of these rooms...let's try the green one."
The room across from the green brazier was small, and empty save for the objects in the middle of the room. The monoliths and the large flower between them drew Michael and Franklin towards them. As they got closer, they could see the writing on the flower. Michael squinted at it, attempting to read it. "Puzzle is five...is win, is you, is...winner? The fuck does that mean?" He turned to look at Franklin, who shrugged in response. Before he could question it further, drawings began to appear on the first monolith. Flowers appeared, and when they fell apart they left either words or objects in their wake. Once they stopped, they were left with the white rabbit-looking thing that Michael assumed was "Baba", a flag, three rocks that blocked Baba's path, and walls on both sides where several words lied. Michael took a step forward, looking it over. "So...huh, I guess this is the puzzle it mentioned."
Franklin took a moment to look around the room, noting the number of monoliths. "There's five of the...tablets or whatever, so maybe we have to do five puzzles to win. That's what it said, right?"
Michael nodded. "Yeah, that's what it said..." He crossed his arms, looking over the puzzle. It seemed simple enough, but there was no way he could see to control the puzzle. If I can just get it to move to the right a little... As soon as the thought crossed his mind, Baba moved to the right. Huh? He thought about moving it again, and Baba moved to the left. Oh. Well, that works. Looking over the puzzle again, Michael moved Baba to the right again, sending it into a rock, which it began to push out of the way. Once the obstacle was removed, he sent the rabbit creature towards the flag.
The moment Baba touched the flag, golden sparkles flitted across the monolith's surface, and the chalk faded away. One of the five petals surrounding the central dais fell away, leaving only four left. Without further ado, drawings began to appear on the second monolith. True to the friends' conclusions, it appeared that five solved puzzles would be necessary to earn a reward, presumably one of the paintings the flagellant fox spirits desired.
As soon as the puzzle was completed, Michael moved to the next monolith, watching as a new puzzle took shape. However, once it was finished, he frowned as he looked it over. It seemed impossible, the flag stuck on the other end of a wall, and moving Baba into it proved that it was, indeed, impassible. There seemed to be no way to win the puzzle, as the wall stopped him. Stop...wait. Michael's eyes turned to the set of words in reach- WALL IS STOP. After a few seconds, he smiled as the nature of the puzzle became clear to him. Walls stopped him...but what if he changed the rules?
Baba soon moved towards the set of words, pushing the 'IS' out of the way. Moving up, Michael's theory was proven correct as he passed through the wall with ease. Moving onto the flag, however, didn't end the puzzle. The reason was soon made apparent- the letters 'FLAG', 'IS', and 'WIN' were scattered around the room. It only took a few seconds to gather them together, and send Baba back towards the flag.
Michael's clever deduction rendered the second puzzle solved. On cue, a second petal fell away and the second monolith's scrawlings faded. The friends' expectant look toward the third revealed another scenario already taking shape.
This puzzle was...different. Where one would expect walls, there were instead rows of flags. In addition, Baba was seemingly nowhere to be found. In its place, was a segment of wall. After staring at it for a moment, Michael realized that the word for 'WALL' was in the place where 'BABA' usually was. Indeed, the segment of wall moved when Michael mentally commanded it to, just like Baba did. From there, solving the puzzle was easy, as Michael had gotten the grasp of how they worked. He removed the 'IS' from 'FLAG IS STOP', then moved the words to create 'FLAG IS WIN' and sent the piece of wall into the nearest flag.
Without delay, the fourth puzzle constructed itself for Michael to turn his attention to. Only two petals remained on the central dais locking it in place.
Michael frowned as he looked over the next puzzle. The path was blocked by two walls of skulls, and there was no obvious way to get past them or make them harmless. Scratching his chin, he looked at the only words available to him- 'WALL IS STOP'. His mind immediately went back to the last puzzle- while Baba was in no position to reach the flag, the walls were. Quickly, he put his plan into place. He removed the 'IS' from 'WALL IS STOP', and brought the 'WALL' outside, replacing 'BABA' with it. When he moved next, every piece of wall shifted with him, but he was able to get a piece of the wall to touch the flag.
The final monolith came to life as Michael's wall tripped the fourth puzzle's flag. This time, the whole surface changed color, taking on a bluish appearance evocative of the ocean depths. This, the last of the puzzles, would open the final lock once concluded, presumably giving the friends their reward.
The last puzzle, besides the oceanic theme, introduced a few new objects to the board. At this point, though, it didn't concern Michael too much. He felt that he understood how these puzzles worked well enough, and solving this one wouldn't be any harder than the others. After pushing the first rock out of the way, he took a moment to consider his options. While he couldn't get past the wall, he could use the 'AND' to take control of the crab outside and finish the puzzle. That would mean getting rid of the skull somehow. Hm...maybe I could sink it? He didn't exactly know what 'sink' would do, but maybe he could use it to get rid of the skull. First, he changed 'STAR IS SINK' to STAR IS PUSH', and pushed the star onto the skull. He then went back and changed it back to 'SINK'. As soon as he did, both the star and the skull disappeared, causing Michael to pump his fist in celebration. The next step was easy, pushing 'AND' and 'CRAB' to create 'CRAB AND BABA IS YOU', giving him control of the crab outside, which he used to touch the flag.
This time, when the flag got touched, the entire room began to shudder. As the fifth petal fell away, the monoliths retracted unto the floor, and the central dais rose. Its hollow inside, open on the direction facing the door, help a paint that depicted Baba amidst a hurricane of obstacles and words. Even though Franklin didn't step it to help, Michael's wits had proved enough to triumph over this puzzle.
The minute Michael laid his hand on the painting, however, the room started to quake once again, but far more violently this time. The monoliths slid up and down at random, and waves of black pixellation surged across the room. Drawn flowers bloomed, withered, and disintegrated in the air, their generation increasing in speed and intensity until they collected together above the raised dias. Then, with great force, the flower-singularity burst apart like a hatching egg. Onto the plinth dropped a white rabbit creature in all his three-dimensional glory. Still and silent, Baba peered down at the men below. Not a trace of red could be seen his eyes.
Once Michael had secured the painting, he moved back as fast as he could to avoid the sudden chaos the room was thrown into. The two continued to move backwards, trying to avoid the most dramatic effects. They could only watch as flowers bloomed and disintegrated, eventually coming together and bursting apart all at once. After they finished shielding their eyes, their eyes went wide as they saw what had appeared. Franklin turned to Michael first. "Is that..."
Michael gave a silent nod, taking a moment to hand the painting over to Franklin before stepping forward. Staring up at the plinth, he spoke. "Baba? Is that you?"
When he heard his name, Baba looked at Michael, but without much comprehension. Based on its lack of responsiveness, there didn't appear to be reason to believe he harbored near-human intelligence. Nevertheless, Baba eventually hopped down from the top of the plinth. Smooth and almost featureless save for his eyes, stubby legs, and equally stubby ears, he was a strange but rather endearing beast. After a moment or two, he happened to look at the painting Franklin currently held. The sight of himself triggered some sort of response, like a dog seeing itself in a mirror. A sketchy flower bloomed in midair above Baba's head, leaving behind a cube with BA/BA inscribed on each face. A moment later the word cube faded away, like chalk being erased.
Wholly unperturbed by whatever just happened, Baba looked away and started walking toward the exit.
The two were silent as Baba walked away. Judging by its reaction, Michael assumed that it didn't possess human-like intelligence. He didn't know what to make of the word-cube appearing and disappearing, though. Maybe it could be used like it was in the puzzles? He didn't know, but that was something they could worry about later. Nodding to Franklin, the two followed Baba out of the room and into the central chamber.
"Put that down for now. We'll get the other paintings first." Franklin nodded, putting the painting down near the entrance of the green room.
"Well, that's one. I'm guessing we're gonna need three more?"
"Yeah." Michael looked at the braziers. "Let's say...the pink room next?"
"Don't see why not. Hey, where do you think the kid went?"
Michael paused. He had completely forgotten about her. "I...I dunno. We'll run into her later, let's just go and see what's going on in the next room." The two began walking towards the room across from the pink brazier, but as they approached, Michael stopped and turned back towards Baba. "Uh...you probably can't understand me, but you can come along if you want."