Part 31: Bonus Feature B5: Hope SpringsBonus Feature B5: Hope Springs
A door without hinges or frame that nonetheless opened, in a treasure box that could barely hold a sword or a piece of armor a puzzle, and one that Hope had no use for. Still, nothing found should be thrown away.
A more conventional doorway led to an empty room, where a busy little drone nattered about how busy he was, despite having literally nothing to do locked away in an empty room.
Evidently it was most profitable, or else this Ashura was paying people handsomely in a scheme to keep them from climbing the tower. Considering that the monsters seemed to be the ones with all the money, this was an entirely reasonable course of action.
Hope found another door, its panels marked with the scratches of many claws as though it had been held for a long time against many.
Inside the long dead remains of forgotten children and a single adult lay scattered about, covered in dust and preserved perfectly against the day when a stranger should again enter the chamber. Why had they remained undisturbed after their deaths, when the room could now be entered so easily?
Beneath the adult who had guarded the children lay a strange device that Hope would only understand later, and when she did it struck her as even more tragic. They had possessed a means to end their suffering and take their tormentors with them, but had died slowly.
Hope had given up on finding anything of real value in the chest, but she was particularly incensed about the poor spelling. If Hope had any use for a shield, she would have been too embarrassed to use this one for fear of running into an unusually literate monster.
In a nearby library a series of books suggested that Ashura, who Hope was quite eager to meet, was somehow being controlled. It made sense to Hope, since if one could control four then surely another could control the first but how many people could there be in such a line?
A hidden shelf held a hidden book with hidden meanings, that Hope hid in her bag for later sale.
Finely on a narrow sky bridge hope found a door to a tiny room
That was unexpectedly much, much bigger on the inside. A single house, among the flowers, where Hope imagined that she might herself be happy...
Except that it was already occupied by a strange old man who was intent on giving her a sword. Even the spirits with her were confused about why he thought she was an appropriate recipient for a sword. The house was empty now, but it was also someone else's.
Of far more interest was a sword of spun glass and starlight, a beautiful thing too fragile to exist that seemed poised to break at any moment. Hope would save it for worthier foes.
Finally after five interminable floors Hope met the man she'd come to consider an old friend in the timeless tower. She could have asked him about Ashura, but she had a feeling that the answers would shortly be meaningless.
At first Hope was left confused by his statement that Ashura was above since she had seen no stairs, but Hope felt herself rising through the air toward a concealed door marked with the winged sphere sigil of the Tower.
Ashura tried to bribe Hope, but her spirits would have no use for realms and honors and Hope could not choose among the four worlds. None of them were quite right, and each had something that the others lacked. Out of indecision, Hope decided that she would accept either all or none.
Hope had found an enemy worthy of the sword of glass, and the curiously durable weapon made quick work of Asura. Very quick work, as even with six limbs Ashura could not catch up with the nimble fighter.
With only one path available Hope could not avoid another pitfall trap, especially as this one was slightly better constructed than the one she had seen right next to her feet while fighting Ashura.
For a second Hope glanced around in confusion as she was not used to hearing voices that did not originate from within her own head.
When Hope awoke after her fall, she found herself surrounded by people she had met on her journey, mysteriously gathered at the base of the tower. Unless they too had fallen this was surely the work of Ashura's controller unless they were all dead, and this was the afterlife.
Hope had little enough to say; she had done all her talking to these people already and just wished to continue up the tower. She would have 25 levels to climb, and the sooner started the sooner done. Her guardian spirits, however, were rather more locquasious.
Instead she went shopping. There were many new items in the store, but only one caught Hope's attention. She was actually quite happy with her equipment, and sold most of what she had found on those last floors of the tower.
The Dapper Man had followed Hope down the tower, but refused to answer her questions. Instead, he simply repeated that the road to Paradise was behind the door.
Some dastardly individual had locked the door to the Tower again, presumably as soon as everyone in the Base Town had arrived. The new door used all four of the colors, and so Hope knew that this was the final gate unless there were four more orbs as a counter to the orbs she had, and that would just be silly.
Just inside of the door Hope was briefly distracted by a chest holding a pair of sheer black gloves, a substantial improvement on her previous set.
With that, Hope finally felt ready to climb the tower (180 Str, 245 AGL: 255 with gloves), which was a good thing...
For an old enemy was waiting for her, and Hope had missed an opportunity in their last fight that she had believed was once in a lifetime. She would not do so again.
Mechanics Chat: Kind of a preparatory stretch here. At this point we've got more money than we need and the gear in the tower is pretty much useless to us. The only exception is the Ninja gauntlet, which I had to grab in order to make sure that I didn't accidentally loop Hope's agility back around to 1. You'll also notice that I went ahead and finished her HP out to 750, which I did using HP400s from the Base Town store. A waste of money? Certainly. A time saver compared to going and finding HP200s? Also certainly.
Enemies going up to the top of the tower aren't really anything special, and having decent HP and game breaking agility makes Ashura considerably less threatening. His agility is actually apparently not much better than the highest tier of monsters, and as such he has a hard time hitting Hope at all. I'm not sure precisely how the formulas for this work, but I'm certain that some boss enemies have strength and agility that breaks the normal limit of 99. Despite that it wasn't high enough. As rough as the fight was in Chokes's play through I felt a bit bad for to some degree trivializing it. Not so bad that it's going to stop what I'm about to do next, but you know, just a little bit bad.