Chapter 24: Down We Go
“I’m back.” I opened the door of the concrete home and stepped inside. I’ve only clocked in less than an hour inside so the feeling of ‘home’ hasn’t set in.
I walked to Eugene’s door.
“Maybe he left?” I thought hearing no reply.
No, there he was still sitting completely focused at his desk. It has been a couple of hours since I left to explore the dungeon. Well, it’s not like I was any different when I’m studying magic.
After selling my pills and getting my new armor I had walked around and visited the various areas of the dungeon. I even got a chance to see the Church of Scale.
For a back-up building, it looked rather expensive. A large cathedral basically. Yet, the many rooms were not unused. It appeared to be housing many, now, orphaned children.
The mess of books around Eugene was bigger, it will only get worse too, like my bow art some things are impossible to digitize.
I wonder, how long until he reaches Cassie’s level of skill. I will say I’m happy he didn’t take advantage of me while I was unconscious with Pesca.
[Like you do not want to push boundaries asking for money, I’m sure he also doesn’t want to break your trust, Lucid.]
I stopped outside of Eugene’s door “Eugene can you come with me to passageway 43?”
Eugene stayed reading only turning away from his book after finishing the page he was on. “East 43? Sure, I can come back you up.”
How sweet he would come without me needing to coax him.
“Thanks. If you want feel free to observe me while I fight. I’ll try to not block out internal scans while I shoot some arrows, it should help with what your researching right?”
Eugene’s eyes lit up hearing my offer. I would feel bad making him babysit me while I hunt weak, relative to him, hyres. Hopefully, this also meant there is no need for a night session.
“This is very much appreciated Lucid! I can see if I’m right about something while I watch you under light loads.”
“Right about what?” I’m curious about what is special about this body also. Apparently, it is quite resilient.
Eugene readied himself as he explained, bringing out a set of dark-blue cloth-like armor.
That must be the spectral lion armor he bought…
“When I brought you to Pesca. She asked me if you were from the north. I didn’t have an answer, but the conversation after I asked her ‘why’ did get me to start learning popular teachings from there.”
Eugene had been wearing the same Laurent athletic wear I wore and slipped into the new armor.
“She was onto something. Your soul, your mana body, and your astral body fit the people of the north, but they’re rather secretive to outsiders. Which makes me wonder if you are from the north. Are you Lucid?”
Eugene sent me the question with no care, he doesn’t understand the weight it had on me. Where I’m from? Neither the north or Laurent is the real answer, but I can’t say that, not yet. I feel bad having to lie.
“I’m from Laurent, but my parents might have been from the north. I never met them though.”
“I see, that makes sense.” Eugene nodded his head as he put on a balaclava instead of a helmet as I had.
Your suppose to say “sorry I didn’t mean to bring that up” Eugene…
Maybe he really is bad at reading the air.
The armor he wore was made from an azure cloth. It was much thinner than my armor and fit Eugene well. It looked very much like something an assassin would wear. The most interesting feature was the odd aura emanating around him making it difficult to keep a focus on him.
With a final tug on a utility belt he looked at me, “I’m ready now.”
Ridiculous how something that feels like thick linen is stronger than my steel armor.
I wanted to cry.
“Is that the spectral lion armor you got from Marella? Oh, she told me to tell you she said hello.” I had to ask.
“No, that armor is here.” Eugene held up a ring on his thumb. It was a pure white bone. Engraved on it was the head of a lion roaring.
“This is something I got from one of the crates at the front as you did for that steel armor. I do not think it is wise to wear the spectral lion armor all the time.”
I held back tears. This thing isn’t even from the front of the store…
Maybe in the future, I consoled myself. Why isn’t wearing it though?
[My guess would be he doesn’t want to fall prey to people with bad intentions. If he does need it I’m sure it will instantly appear on him.]
Ah, that made sense. While he is stronger than me there are plenty stronger than him who can’t afford something like that.
I returned a smile and started the way toward the passageway for novices. I was happy for Eugene, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be jealous.
He seriously reminds me of Kevin. I was always a little envious of him which is why I did my best to at least beat him academically.
Heh, I can already see the green on Kevin’s face once I show him the small flame I can control in my hand.
A wave memories began to try and break through causing me to sigh. In a way, it was better when I could control my emotions like a switch, but at the same time, it felt wrong to go back.
Kevin, Noe, Ester please be safe…
There was no pushing back the memories, but instead accepting them and using them to empower myself. I’ll make them into my strength allowing me to push further forward.
Together we made it past the market plazas. Passing by the heavy glares from the two guards outside Eugene’s father-in-law’s medical center. Eugene appeared unfazed or just didn’t notice.
Coming up on the eastern district we could see in the distance a massive line of adventurers in front of a swirling pool of magma. It made my palms sweat seeing person after person jump into the glowing pit of molten earth. None of them looked to think anything of it, their faces all smiles even giving each high fives before diving in.
“It is safe, right? I don’t need any kind of heat protection?” I looked at Eugene.
“It’s a little warm, but you should be fine.”
Although long, the line moved fast our turn was quickly approaching.
“A little warm because your armor is good? Or just a little warm even if I were naked?” It was our turn now.
“I’m not sure I haven’t tried it naked.” At my question, Eugene looked at me oddly before he walked in. In a flash, he disappeared into the fiery pit. I stayed watching with my mouth agape.
If someone told me this vortex of red is the way to hell I would be inclined to believe them.
“Hey, are you going in or not?” The party behind me looked agitated.
I took a small step forward dipping my foot to check the temperature serving to increase the stares around me.
“Oh, it is just a little warm.” I gave a bashful smile to the party behind before I put on my helmet then jumped in.
After passing the initial pane of glowing lava it was much like the other passageways except bright orange and much harder to move through.
Step by step I made my way through until I felt the weight of my feet dragging in the magma disappear.
Finally, I made it to the other side.
I had dropped into the pit, but I ended up walking out of a swirling passageway against a small hill. I had kinda hoped I would shoot up from the ground like a geyser so I was a little sad.
What didn’t disappoint was the dungeon floor. A wasteland of scorched earth, dead trees, and rivers flowing with a thick viscous purple liquid. The air felt stagnant and chilly contrasting the burning land filling my nose with the scent of ash.
Did I really jinx myself when I asked for all the floors to be as pleasant as the vineyard?
“Lucid over here,” Eugene called out to me. It was rude to linger even if this passageway was rather large, like a car tunnel exit on a mountainside.
Already by the entrance, I can see a party in the distance fighting together to defeat a rather large looking two-headed wolf. The hyre had a thick coat of metallic needles standing on end starting at them in a low crouch. Blood dripping from its fur. The needle wolves are probably the source of dark tungsten I saw on the public board.
Unlike the Tole Forest there was no dense vegetation to block sound or sights unless I moved behind the mountains or rolling hills.
[Would you like to see the private data compiled by Rook Pharmaceutical?]
That would be nice.
[FOR EMPLOYEES ONLY
Location: Tole Forest Dungeon – Main Cave Floor – E43P
Description: One of the passageways within the main dungeon cave floor. It is a tundra of fire and poison.
Mental Magic: None
Special Tasks: Unknown
Notes: This passageway has a paired exit that leads back into the Main Cave. Passageway to the next floor has not been found nor being searched for. Dungeon strategist stated the weak hyres in the area signify nothing of real worth to delve deeper into the floors it leads too.]
“You’ve been here before right?” I looked at Eugene. He seemed calm at the scene of fire before us.
“Yes, I explored this region a bit. I come here to obtain mana orbs.”
I was a bit surprised to hear that. “You don’t have any? I figured you would have bought plenty from powerful hyres when you went to go get your armor.”
Eugene firmly shook his head, “I find it shameful to use the orbs of a hyre I had no part in slaying.”
“Then what about orbs from dead adventurers?” I was sure he too had witnessed deaths and had to perform the removal at some point.
Eugene tilted his head at me “that’s different of course.”
Is it? It seemed the same to me. I did not expect Eugene to this side to him, I figured he would only want results. I wanted to ask what he thought about using essence orbs but didn’t want to risk offending.
[Lucid you haven’t used the mana orb from the dead adventurer…]
Yeah, but my reason is different.
I chose to ignore Eurval’s question, “What should I hunt? Anything I can kill? I haven’t benchmarked myself, but I think I should be in the 2k range for my physical stats. Mana might be around 5k and, as you know, I’m down 20%. So 1k for magic until I finish healing to bring it back to 3k.”
All those numbers where pure guesses from Eurval at this point. The extrapolation it gave me became worse and worse without new accurate data.
I should have gone at least once to go get benchmarked. I had read the entire process took hours, especially if I opted to use a low weight for the mana capacity test. I chose to spend that time studying or training instead.
At least Eurval had given me the conservative estimates to make sure I don’t end up killing myself.
Eugene eyed me in thought “Hmm, I believe flame foxes should be within your ability.”
I trusted Eugene’s word, but still, think it should be good to double check.
[Eugene is right you should be able to handle it.]
[Hyre: Flame Fox
Threat Level: D
Combat Data: STR: ~1100, AGI: ~1300, MGI: 300, Mana Cap.: 4300AM
Description: A small hyre usually found near high heat. Quick-witted and one of few hyres below class C that can use innate magic. Flame Foxes can shoot large flames when threatened or when hunting. They can also shoot tiny pellets of molten metal. Weak against Ice and water-based magic. Strong against earth and fire. Very sensitive to heat, low temperatures can cause instant hibernation and possibly death. Often caught to be turned into familiars if opting not to create.]
Hmm, this is something I should be able to handle even in my weakened state as long as I don’t fight more than one.
I should work on a water-based arrow, but what would a water arrow even do? Make things wet?
The wind and fire arrows were easy for me since I had a clear vision of their purpose helping me with the construction of the spell.
Similar when I was working on the combined arrow as part of my daily magic lessons. Although it wasn’t ready when I used it, the lighting arrow is my most powerful single arrow if mana efficiency is ignored.
Which is why I was confident I could use the two arrow spell combination at that moment especially if I didn’t care about overreaching.
I figured I should go all out if I’m was already going to hurt myself using the spread shot.
The arrow needs more work before it can join its mother and father in casual use. At the moment it’s two layers, basically, two slapped together spells with various intersecting symbols to complete a full circuit.
I need to refine it.
After my own assessment, I looked and Eugene “flame foxes sound good. Do you know where to find them?”
I could only see flocks of metal crows and needle wolves near the entrance.
Eurval said places near high temperatures so I wanted to go towards the mountains where I could see cracks of glowing orange under cooling lava.
“I didn’t hunt them. I only saw them passing by while going after needle wolves.”
Hunting needle wolves solo…Eugene that’s dangerous. Well, he is an assassin in terms of his true fighting style.
“Let’s try heading towards the mountains first.”
Eugene agreed then gestured for me to lead the way. We began the trek across the dark burnt earth under a false starry sky. Essence training has improved my low-light vision. I could see decently enough without a light. Still, I had help from Eurval outlining objects and possible paths on the rough terrain.
I could have summoned a small light easily but do not want to alert anything I don’t want to confront.
Carefully we made our way to the mountain in the distance. Luckily the many parties and adventurers here where already keeping the hyres busy.
My hunt begins.
Note: Replacing mithril with high tungsten
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