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I really like this title.
Chapter 34: Eastern Eggs Hunt
The sound of a crack in the cave wall bursting rung out. Instead of the usual slow pour the, now, enlarged crack shot out gigantic orange embryonic sac looking things along with the torrent of blazing magma with so much force its arc passed over the levee.
Through the clear dome I saw the brigade of guardsman slashing, freezing, and crushing them as fast as they could.
I squinted at one that had landed right on top of the clear barrier dome.
Is that a fetus?
No, it’s too big.
Floating inside a sac I could make out a giant hyre inside.
[Eugene is requesting a full-time mental communication channel. Accept Lucid?]
Instantly I felt Eugene’s voice come in clear.
“Lucid, it seems it will be clearing duty when we leave through the gate. But I suggest we fight using the same tactics we used with the undead if it does come to combat. What do you think?” Although his voice always sounded serious I could sense in his tone a grievousness that usually isn’t there.
“I was thinking the same.” We would need a semblance of teamwork even with our unbalanced party.
It was unfortunate everyone seemed to have formed parties. Of course, even Runter had found one.
I began to prepare my armor, double checking everything I had as a precaution.
[You already checked everything before we left for the aquatic dungeon Lucid.]
Yeah… but I wouldn’t sit right not doing it once more here.
As I did this an alert popped up.
[Pointa: You have been assigned to task group AT please head to the designated area and begin clearing the hyres that have appeared. As the situation progresses your assignment will change. As a best practice, I suggest to have your MAGI sync constant reports to me on your current situation.]
I’m sure something similar for everyone else must have appeared as the crowd became silent.
[Lucid do you wish for me to send constant reports?]
Yes, send them Eurval. This is more a less a team effort I can’t be greedy here. It’s not like I’ve developed something super secret and want to keep it private like some others.
With a thought, I opened the personnel file for this “AT” team and began reading through it. Pretty much everyone in the back had been assigned into it.
I only really cared to know Eugene was going to be with me since he was my only party member.
Well, at least Eurval can begin to facially recognize everyone around me.
Text boxes began popping up near the people directly around me telling me their specializations. It wasn’t too detailed, but it did at least tell me their position in a team battle.
Okay, everything is good…
I pat myself one last time then took in a long breath.
The air felt heated up. Tasting dry and heavy from the massive addition of heat being pumped into the dungeon floor every second.
“Time to move Lucid we don’t want to get warned for non-participation.”
I nodded at Eugene’s suggestion as we spoke with our mental connection.
Like us, the crowd began to quickly disperse. Some chose to fly out like the guards but most of us in the back head for the open gates that had a similar barrier covering them.
[AT has been sent to the eastern ward Lucid, it seems that side had fewer outlets and should be the easiest out of all the areas.]
The Eastern ward for us…
I silently thanked this Pointa guy for being realistic in the usage of the resources — Which was us.
The moment I stepped out of the barrier the battle sounds attacked my ears combined with the waves of intense heat the barrier had been holding off.
So this is why direct communication with our MAGI’s is a necessity.
Now out I took in the dungeon cave floor. No longer did it look like the city I had begun to get familiar with.
It looked mostly like a flat land like a giant den if I only looked at three sides and ignored the pit in the south.
Most of the people had taken their estate treasures, and the ones that were abandoned were nothing but ash now.
It really looked like a regular dungeon floor now barring the 4 giant treasure estate shelters and the few estates located in the affluent area.
If I had seen this place like it is now maybe I wouldn’t have been so eager to treat it like something it wasn’t.
I had to hand it to Laurent for making this place feel like a genuine city instead of a dungeon floor like it actually is. However, it wasn’t a city it was a dungeon floor with hyres like all the others.
[I wonder if no one detected hyres of any kind, because they just weren’t ready yet until now Lucid.]
That would explain a lot…
How unlucky for the masses, but then again the mantra of personal strength being absolute rang true once more.
This place was completely different now as we made our way through following at the backend of the AT task force to the eastern end. So much so Eurval was renewing the map of this cave floor while Eugene and I ran towards the designated area.
Runter had blown past me and so did the other four a long time ago. Runter flying on his own and the other four atop majestic looking familiars.
How unfair… I needed maybe a month and I could have had my rock tortoise to ride too… a fire breathing rock tortoise that is…
I couldn’t help but feel giddy at the creation sitting inside me ready to be completed with a little chunk of the glowing ring still embedded in my wrist.
Shit, my mind is wondering. Now wasn’t the time and became refocused making a b-line to the eastern ward.
We arrived. Off in the distance, I could see the Scale Cathedral estate standing in perfect shape as the rain of hot magma and molten eggs hit it from all sides.
In the center plaza, we had the benefit of the guardsman making quick work before it got this bad.
Still, the silvery shield over the giant Scale Cathedral estate treasure looked strong not shaking in the slightest.
“We’re here Lucid get ready.” Eugene’s voice came through as we entered the area considered the eastern ward.
From the ground, I could see thousands of these glowing eggs in my view each one pulsating waves of heat and vibrating like as if beating like a heart.
Only the smell that came from hot dry air entered my armor. While it had no enchantments towards the heat it under the natural creation process made it well insulated. If I added my new found affinity to heat I felt a little hot but it was strangely comfortable.
Eurval in hand I nocked a wind essence arrow ready to begin the cleaning duty.
I released the arrow aiming for a giant sac that had just land aiming to pierce what looked like a massive head of a hyre that was being grown inside.
My wind arrows instantly cut right through the thick molten ‘skin’ of the sac darting out from the other side hitting nothing but the ground.
Tch. I clicked my tongue.
I used too much mana for that arrow.
Eugene did the same and began to kill the sacs that looked like fish eggs made of lava near us. Blinking in and out of my vision shooting his chained daggers and tearing through them.
“I’ll aim for the ones in the distance and you go for the ones nearby. I think that would work best for this kind of thing.”
“I was just about to say Lucid.”
It feels good knowing we’re on the same page. This as a duo we can use our specialized skills the best way we can. It would be a waste to have me kill the ones nearby and he goes after the ones far away.
We had caught up to Runter, the four, and everyone else.
[There is a near-field group voice communication channel Lucid like the one you have with Eugene for the AT task force, Join?“
Yes, but mute me.
“I’ve never seen a hyre where did these things come from.” A stranger’s voice clearly spoke out.
“Don’t think about that just keep killing them and rack up the contributions points for a fat payday by the guild. I hear they pay triple the going rate for emergencies like this to encourage people to not defect.” Another stranger replied.
It seemed the near voice worked by physical proximity if too many voices were talking simultaneously.
The thousand or so of us were quickly making work killing them, but there was simply too many being continually pushed out form the cracks in the cave wall.
Like a salmon laying its eggs the golden globs of fiery death kept being pushed out as if the cave floor was in perpetual labor.
“I think this is good enough let’s move on,” I called out to Eugene.
Being directly in communication with Eugene. Our voices seemed to take precedence above all others.
Eugene nodded and began to move forward where we could find a good concentrated patch of these molten murder eggs. Shooting an arrow every so often as I rand with him if I could get two or three in one go.
As we made our way past my eyes stopped on two familiar faces.
Even right now you damn freaking idiots…
Runter and Mei seemed to have been unable to put aside their families grudges and fought the broiling sacs with the intention of one-upping each other.
I bet they have the contribution count in the personnel listing open while they fight.
The two were flying around with their sword arts destroying the orange glowing embryonic sacs as fast as they could without thought.
I settled to shaking my head and refocused on my own surroundings then began shooting once more.
They were going for speed, damage, and range in their attacks instead of mana efficiency like Eugene and I.
Maybe it was a good thing that I always fought being miserly with my mana before as I never wanted to dip below half.
Got it. Got it. Got it. Got it. Got it.
Arrow after arrow I pierced through the what looked like the head of whatever unborn hyre was inside with as little downtime as possible.
What is our contribution so far?
[You have contributed 124 Lucid. Eugene 139.]
I wanted to cry. I’m here trying making sure to order my shots to re-aim my bow with as little redundant movements as possible and yet I’m still losing.
Eugene isn’t suited for this at all and he was still doing better than me.
I summoned another arrow quickly into my hand just as the one before had been let go wasting no time and wasting no mana.
Okay, the next shot will be a single one.
I adjusted the mana into the arrow accordingly.
By now I had the ‘muscle’ memory, or should I say astral memory? For the minimum amount of mana a wind arrow needed to slay a single egg.
However, I wasn’t the only one getting better at slaying them.
In the past hour, everyone’s ability to kill them had improved. I felt like we had reached a point we could kill them as fast as they came out, but that still meant there were many we could not get.
I really don’t want to see one ‘hatch’…
“How are you for mana Lucid?”
“I’ve used a little under a third you?”
“Not bad you’ve gotten good at managing your mana since you’ve taken me hunting with you, I’m a little under a quarter.”
If it wasn’t Eugene I would have taken it as a brag, but I knew he was just offering me accurate information.
Without end, they continued to gush out of the walls draining out with the magma lighting the cave floor into a sunny and summery day.
The heat had reached its peak since Eugene and me, the adventures, and the guards had all become adept at quickly killing them causing stopping these egg furnaces from continuing to heat this dungeon floor.
About a half-hour in the heat had become uncomfortable. If it wasn’t for the group effort I’m sure many in the AT would have died had the intense heat lasted any longer. Some of them even had to enter the Scale Cathedral to cool off.
I do believe that I would have survived even if it did get much hotter. Eugene too with the use of his spectral lion armor he had yet to wear.
All of us in group AT mowed down any and every giant molten salmon egg we saw in the Eastern ward.
“Who is that Lucid bowman is he an adventurer or a cadet? Every time I see him shoot to kill I’m sure the arrows aren’t strong enough to kill, but each time I’m wrong.”
“Forget about that guy look at Runter and Mei both of them just passed 1000 kills each! Monsters of the future generation…”
They are getting lax… I clicked my tongue hearing this chatter through the group communication.
Mute it, if something important happens replay it and un-mute that communication channel Eurval.
[Very well Lucid.]
Eugene, like me, was completely focused even though together we were both barely above the average. The average which was around 100 or so contributions per person.
It was a bit lower if I excluded the two outliers.
I was more surprised to see Abigail pushing quite hard also doing crossing 500. The other two were in the mid 300’s.
The entire AT group was hovering at around 80k or so kills an hour, yet the entire eastern area we were put in charge of looked just like when we first arrived.
I can’t tell if that is a good thing or a bad thing…
It wasn’t hard to kill these things and turn them into giant rocks like the flame foxes it was their sheer numbers that were the problem.
At least we have almost all the estate treasures gone. It helped with visibility for combat. This was another reason I felt we were doing better than I thought.
Having all the obstructions gone saved us from having to run around a maze of streets and rubble that would have been here. I could still see where a treasure estate once was outlined in the dirt.
In between an arrow release I sighed.
A sensation of danger jolted through me.
Before I could finish the thought I shot my arrow at the sac that I felt was causing the feeling.
Was it beating faster? I noticed it after the arrow had pierced the head of the hyre inside.
A horrible howl rang out from the hyre inside the molten sac.
That was new…
Was it about to be born?
“Did you catch that Eugene?”
“Yes, I heard it what was it?”
“I’m not sure…Something is off about some of them… Like that one!” I pointed ahead at one in front of us.
Eugene threw his dagger before I could get another arrow out, the dagger blinking out of sight before appearing again.
I haven’t seen that move.
I wanted to hug Eugene for committing the extra mana to the attack off my hunch.
The shriek appeared again confirming my suspicion.
“I wonder if it means their incubation period is coming to an end?” Eugene sent me his thoughts.
I wondered the same thing.
There was no hug, instead I opted to shoot another giant egg.
[I have sent a report Lucid, I will also be training a model to differentiate ones that have finished incubating based when you find them.]
I nodded my head. Though I was a bit surprised Eurval had decided to do that on its own. Didn’t even ask for my permission to use the resources.
Not that I minded. I actually liked it better. I wonder if Eurval will start doing other things on its own too…
Or has it already?
Shit, my mind is trailing. I need to focus.
I needed to refine the ‘hunch’. It was a specific change within the latent fire essence inside of my affliction field.
The tickling sensation would appear right before an egg would begin to pulsate faster. The conclusion I’ve formed was that I’m feeling a large draw of fire essence from the surroundings.
Maybe there was some good about absorbing essence orbs the ‘wrong’ way. I bet the flame foxes where adept at this feeling since the fire essence along with the magma is their source of food.
Eugene and I kept our pace running around the eastern ward to where the golden eggs would land. Altogether with AT we made large laps around the eastern cathedral.
Unlike the clear barrier used in the shelter at the central plaza. The cathedral had a silvery milky sheen to it.
136, 157, 169, 632…
Time continued to tick on as dungeon cave floor continued in labor. Although I was being as efficient as possible with my mana, I now had used half of it. Even with just using wind arrows that had solely enough power to destroy not the entire molten sac but the hyre growing inside.
I’d bet no other weapon based essence art could be this efficient with its mana usage.
How is the model going Eurval? Have you noticed any patterns?
[I’ve just passed 51% accuracy of my prediction rate, I believe I’ve found a stride I need just a little tuning Lucid.]
That’s good, send the model to Eugene once it is complete.
[Pointa: AT has sent a documented that some of these hyres will be hatching soon along I am putting the ones that look older at top priority to keep whatever is inside from hatching and adjusting contribution points retroactively.]
“Look old? They all look the damn same!” Alan yelled out near me, not through the group communication but out loud.
“Half of those over there are going to hatch Eugene, I’ll take care of the group to the left.” I used the mental communication with Eugene directing him towards a mass of sacs, half of which I could sense would be born soon.
They would all need to be killed anyways it would take too much time pointing them out.
But after the message I understood why our contribution points had shot up, Pointa had given ones that were going to be born soon 10 points each.
“Fucking Last is leeching off of Eugene and past us.” I over-heard Chibin speak to Alan close by during a lull in the combat.
“I bet Eugene figured out a way to tell them apart. Last must be benefitting from it.” Alan replied.
Did everyone forget at one point I was a genius just to vent their frustrations?
I won’t say I wasn’t disappointed Abigail said nothing to my defense. What happened to becoming new friends and getting off on the wrong foot.
If she had said anything the health of our fake friendship might have actually had some chance at turning real.
I sighed. I did this to myself expecting anything, really.
I shook my head and continued to release arrow after arrow. I was surprised at myself by how much my personal strength had grown these past months. I understood why so many wanted to enter dungeons to have breakthroughs.
The pressure it applies really drives me forward. Although I wish next time, if I ever decided to step foot into another dungeon, I can come prepared.
With no movement spell, I could now sprint close to when I had used it two months prior fighting the flame foxes.
And with it? I was incredibly fast not far behind Elizabeth in speed now.
My arrows flew in a pretty arc all piercing the hyres inside, similarly, Eugene had torn the sacs and sliced through them.
Guttural shrieks howled out as Eugene and I slew a good handful of the ready-to-be-born ones.
Just like that our contribution points rose by over one hundred.
Looking around we were finally gaining and beginning to clear all the hyres. It was easy to tell the streams from the walls were no longer as strong. They began to drop back down and land inside the levees.
Without the estates blocking my view I could see the stronger adventurers tasked to the majority of these molten sacs in the southern, northern, and western areas were killing them much faster than we were here in the eastern end. Unlike me large area essence arts or magic where as easy as me shooting a single arrow.
Yet the feeling of danger did not want to leave me.
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