February has come and gone. I found it a bit harder to keep the routine up this month, but I completed the level just in time. So still going, ready to head deeper into the depth below Grimwald Keep. Before we get to what awaits there, let's look back at Level 2.
The Lower Keep
Just below the surface lies another layer of the fortress. The towers each have two storeys below ground. These serve as a transition from the fairly mundane keep above to the stranger world the Shapers once lived in. The first indication of this is that magic-powered lifts replace stairs. From there, the journey takes us through infrastructure, like the cistern and service tunnels, and gathering places, like the scrying chamber . The abandoned forge holds secrets to discover but is guarded by an angry fire elemental. At the centre of it all lies the Lower Courtyard. A large, open space where the main living quarters of the former occupants are located. More importantly for our intrepid adventurers, this is also where the primary access to the next level lies.
The lower courtyard is also the favourite gathering place for the current occupants of this level: Elementals who have escaped the bindings that once forced them to power Shaper machines. Some are angry and out for revenge, but the abundant mephits are mostly determined to have a good time. And what could be a better time than fighting for fun and profit?
Mephit Fight Club
The mephits have appropriated the lower courtyard as an arena for organised fights. They are more than happy for visitors to participate. The first rule of Mephit Fight Club is "Tell everyone!" closely followed by the second rule, "If you are new here, you have to fight". Fortunately, fights are not very deadly affairs, with fatalities a rare occurrence.
The galleries above offer great views for spectators who cheer on the combatants and bet on outcomes while groups of elementals (or treasure hunters!) engage in various competitions below. These range from classic team battles to Capture the Gem, King of the Fountain, and the local favourite, Battle Royale. Some prizes are to be won, but most importantly, those who distinguish themselves can battle for glory against the raining champion. Victory brings treasure but, more importantly, unimpeded access to the lower levels.
Below the Lower Keep lie the winding tunnels of the Shaper Roads. These lead to various hidden exits from the peak and, of course, deeper underground.