Level 544
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⚠️ Content Warnings ⤴

Info

CW: Contains descriptions/images of arthropods and slime molds.

RELEASED UNDER THE ASTRAL INK COOPERATIVE

Months in the past, but not many…
These bugs and various bug-eating things were brought to you by BUBBLINGBEACHBUBBLINGBEACH!!

Huge thanks to the indispensable r a t i fr a t i f and scutoid studiosscutoid studios for looking over this (and the former for bluelighting it) >BD
This SD class layout here is an in-progress version of Nulevelclass by Scut that I stole and compressed.

Beach trivia: This level's working title was "Refined Radiance", after the obsolete Minecraft Create mod item.

:Survival Difficulty:Class 3

Unsecured • Moderate Hazards • No Hostility

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Level 544.

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Description

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Level 544's wetlands under a particularly dim sky.

Level 544 is a forested wetland of indeterminate area, distinguished from similar expanses by the vast luminous bodies dominating its skies.
A variety of waterlogged biomes comprise its ground, familiar and distinct on an individual level but alien in scale. This massive floodplain stems from no singular river—only an infinitude of intermingled water and earth. The scant differences in altitude, though the level itself exhibits no curvature or gradation, are enough to harbor a wide assortment of environments—lakes and ponds take over where the ground sinks, and denser temperate-tropical forests grow on drier elevated land. However, the vast majority of the level is occupied by the intermediate: marshes, swamps, and fens host thousands of plant and insect species that call this flooded world home.
Although Level 544 remains relatively untouched by complex life-forms, it is not to be confused for our own prehistory: the entire level steams in the light not of a sun, but of a sky full of glowing masses unlike those observed anywhere else. The ecosystems they illuminate have adapted well to their inescapable presence.

The entirety of the level is trapped in an eternal summer afternoon: a constant heat that discomforts but does not imperil. Needless to say for a wetland of this scale and temperature, the air is functionally drenched, cloud formation is impeded only by the humid winds sent down from the sky. With no other place to go, the warm vapor simply huddles close to land in an unbroken haze.

Level 544's terrain itself, though not actively hostile, can prove a challenge to traverse if caution is not exercised. While navigating through its thick reeds and grasses is unforgiving enough, the muddier ground has an irritating tendency to drop off quickly into near-indistinguishable water holes, or even collapse into one at a mere footfall. These sinkages are rarely deeper than a meter, but do well to thoroughly ruin the clothes of reckless travellers.
Needless to say, the overbearing glare of the sky does little to prevent such blunders.

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Here, the light is as palpable as the leaves it filters through.

Lakes and ponds are strewn across the land, proving a frequent impediment to larger journeys. Though it is inadvisable to cross these directly without preparation and equipment, they are rarely over 2 meters deep and thus pose little acute hazard.
Most of Level 544's liquid water is contained within these stagnant reservoirs; due to a lack of regular precipitation and altitude variation, flowing bodies of water such as creeks and rivers are extremely rare. As such, the vast majority of liquid water within the level has long been subject to little disturbance outside of the odd breeze or impact event, providing a comfortable breeding space for aquatic microorganisms of all forms. Even in emergencies, drinking this water untreated is likely to invite any number of exotic and easily preventable illnesses.

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Resident Lifeforms

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The forest floors remain illuminated, no matter how large their occupants grow.

The vast majority of Level 544 is dominated by ferns, grasses, and trees of all make and manner—there is no rock left untouched by moss, nor soggy patch of mud unexplored by curious sprouts. Any spade taken to the dirt will inevitably strike roots. Classification of every species within is a fruitless endeavor, though most bear at least a strong resemblance to Earth flora—albeit often with overlarge leaves to match the availability of light.

Many of the lakes and ponds within the level, particularly those surrounded by dense forests, have long been overtaken by other kingdoms of aquatic flora. Mosses and lilies cleanly coat their surfaces, while hydrophytes of all shapes flourish underneath. Such reservoirs may very well be the only locales around in permanent shadow.

Level 544 is in no shortage of more animated inhabitants, either. The clouds of migrating insects would blot out lesser suns, and their collective chatter reaches volumes comparable to a busy highway. Here, they are free from the threat of larger predators: there are no birds or amphibians or fish to thin their numbers, though the high population of carnivorous plants appear to have taken advantage of this abundance.

Several documented species within Level 544 have extant database entries, produced from discoveries elsewhere within the Backrooms. However, as with its flora, the fauna within exhibit numerous adaptations suited to an insect-laden, human-devoid environment.

However, a significant number of entities within Level 544 have no database entry or, most often, no extant documentation at all. Those that are at present exclusive to this level's bounds, described here, are given provisional PA designations until further documentation is provided or deemed necessary.

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Phenomena

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While not expressly forbidden, Level 544 rarely lends itself well to being photographed using conventional cameras.

More mundane observations aside, Level 544 is most easily characterized by the unidentified luminous bodies that sprawl across its sky. These most closely resemble massive, radiant clouds: far too large and amorphous to be called stars, and far too bright to be classified as auroras. Photographing them directly is an exercise in futility. For convention's sake, these objects are given the working designation of Phenomenon 544-P.

Instances of 544-P are not stagnant, but chart a steady journey across the sky over the span of hours or days. Whether this would constitute an upper-atmosphere current or a day/night cycle is unclear, but the weather remains a constant regardless.
Thankfully for those on the surface, 544-P instances output far less heat than light, generating only enough to warm the level to slightly above room temperature. However, the quantity of ultraviolet radiation generated notably exceeds that of sunlike stars. Thick clothing and headwear is strongly recommended when entering Level 544 to prevent severe sunburn, as even the densest foliage provides very little protection.5

Although bulk high-UV shielding is an entirely possible development in the future, Level 544 is by no means a potential spot for long-term habituation.

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An impact crater, long weathered by time and water.

Level 544 is infrequently peppered by falling bodies of foreign matter, ranging from dust particles to objects the size of small islands. Due to the relative rarity of this occurrence and the difficulty of observation, the means by which these objects enter the level is not known. What is known is the relative danger posed by their appearances, and the remnants that suggest these impacts have occurred long before their discovery.

Two (2) accounts of these objects in descent have been recorded at present, but Level 544 is littered with wreckage from larger debris.6 These are often sizeable chunks of land and, on occasion, pieces of man-made/adjacent architecture.
Several of these more intact structures have been noted to host functional apertures to and from the level,7 suggesting that these are not isolated bits of matter but discarded pieces of other levels within the Backrooms. Only some of these locations these connect to are documented elsewhere; those that are not have been given provisional PA designations. Note that this is not a complete list by any means. More exits likely exist in the present—or may arrive in the future.

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Entry and Egress

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Entrance to Level 544 from the Snowswept Permanence.

Access to Level 544 can be achieved via any of the locations denoted in the above inter-level access points (that are not denoted as one-way), though this is not an exhaustive list. Travelling via any of these methods leads to their respective foreign structures.
Alternatively, a number of one-way entrances to Level 544 have been found strewn across numerous other levels. These each take the form of a thick growth of reeds and/or ferns emerging from secluded nooks, oftentimes breaking through the terrain, surrounding a luminous pool of freshwater. Completely submerging oneself in this body of water grants immediate access to Level 544 at the bottom of one of its own ponds, though this may not always be feasible due to the large variation in these pools' breadth and depth. Very few of these entrances are permanent, as these gateways tend to manifest within spatially transient/unstable levels.
These have been found in the Metamountains, Prismatic Freefall, Snowswept Permanence, Echoed Avenue, Mad Gallery, and the Blue Reprise. More likely exist.

Egress from Level 544 can, as well, be achieved via any of the locations denoted in the above inter-level access points, though this is not an exhaustive list. Outside of dire emergencies, choosing a high-risk or undocumented level to exit to is strongly inadvisable, as numerous safer destinations likely exist within a reasonable distance. Any additional exits that are not listed on this page are encouraged to be documented and avoided, unless one is absolutely certain of the safety of the space beyond.9

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