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Our dungeon clearing has been going well. We’ve received large quantities of money, which is tiny gems from the monsters. My friend explained to me that these items are used as the energy source for all the magical technology in this nation and is the de facto currency because everything is traded against the value of these little gems. Coins made out of precious metals are viewed only as materials for manufacture, antiques, or foreign currency, while precious gems can be used as base to turn small magic gems into much larger ones, making the gems more valuable. Which is why the diamond I made before was inconceivable.
For gear, I’ve received a pair of boots that provide me with faster cast times. My cantrips all cast instantly, so it’s not that useful, but maybe the spells I have been researching can benefit from them. Not the fecalmancy though. Those spells are banned forever! Well, I still store my waste, and if I need to heal someone with it, I guess I will. But I am not a poop-flinging ape. I am not reinforcing that stereotype.
I also got a ring that can summon a bubble of air around my head when I go into an airless environment. I could do this with cantrips, but this ring is a lot easier to use. I thought it was a snake biting its own tail, the ouroboros, but Rhynn corrected me saying it was an eel, and when I looked closer it really was an eel. I decided to call it the Eeloboros ring and was told I am terrible at names.
My experience deficit has shrunk considerably. We’ve been keeping track of my experience gain, and I am really close to finally becoming level 1! The next area is full of small insect and arachnid monsters, and Rhynn says he will get all of them following him, and then he and Podlihob will kill them all at once with wide scale attacks.
We’ve finished our meals and wine and Rhynn is stretching his shoulders.
“Time to start the choo-choo,” he says. Podlihob readies his crossbow and throws out a few turret traps. I look at my research window and confirm I am still learning simple dimensional magic spells for movement. No dimensional attack spells, and I am not using fecalmancy. I pull out some of my mono-filament wire and animate it in front of me, ready for an attack
We nod to indicate we’re ready, and Rhynn trots off. Podlihob and I wait as a sickening noise builds in volume through the cave. A susurrus grows until the cave is dominated by the sound of an enormous arthropod horde approaching. Rhynn appears, illuminated by a magical light with no apparent source. Behind him, an entomologist’s wet dream and entomophobic’s nightmare coalesces out of the darkness. Spiders, beetles, centipedes, wasps, and moths, all at least half my size to many times larger than me fill the passage behind Rhynn. As Rhynn passes the turrets, Podlihob fires a shot from his crossbow. A fiery blast explodes, and then all of his turrets also fire the same blast, resulting in the first wave’s incineration. Rhynn turns his body to one side, pushes his wrists together behind himself, and then turns them toward the next wave of insects.
“Muscle Wave Blast!” Rhynn shouts an attack name that I think is embarrassing.
No judgement, just I wouldn’t yell that. A red beam fires out of his hands, and he moves his arms back and forth to destroy everything, washing the passage in his beam attack. Another wave of insects come, and Podlihob fires another blast from his crossbow. This time, it crackles with purple lightning. The turrets again fire the same blast as the clown and another wave succumbs to their attacks. This continues with them taking turns for some time, until finally one lonely beetle scuttles towards us, angrily clacking its mandibles.
“You think you can handle that one, furball?” Rhynn snickers at me.
I frown at him, and my wire lashes at it, neatly bisecting the beetle. I then run around the corridor with my wallet, using its feature to automatically collect the magic gems dropped by monsters. Once we confirm I have collected all the items, I check my status.
We’ve done it! I am level 1! My health and mana each went up by 1. Oh. That’s disappointing. And as far as we can tell, there are no other changes. I try equipping some of my old gear, and when I put it on, it turns into smelly hobo gear again. I guess I need to keep leveling.
We continue on, descending into an enormous cavern. This must have been where that horde came from. It has a strong smell, and I am not going to speculate what kind of foul smells such an ecosystem could produce. As we walk through, we pause periodically for Podlihob to harvest ingredients he says make great poisons. Mushrooms, slimes I refuse to speculate on, moss, and mold. Poisons are gross. Finally, we continue out of this giant cavern. At least, that is what I thought.
“You guys wait here. I’ll be right back with the named.” Rhynn runs off. I think I forgot some of the notes he gave me. Oops.
Podlihob tosses out some new turrets, and I ready my wire again. We see Rhynn running back toward us, and behind him is monstrosity. A scaled person, with their bottom half a snake. That much is normal for this dungeon, but from its lower snake half, insect legs have erupted forth. It’s snake-like head has insect mandibles coming out of its jaws, and it has several sets of compound eyes down the side of its neck. This thing is revolting. I don’t even wait for them to attack, I begin lashing it with the wire. In seconds, I have reduced it into a goopy mess of gore and body parts.
“That thing was gross. Fuck that thing.” Rhynn and Podlihob give me an odd look.
“We’re supposed to kill that thing in a very particular way to prevent it from healing itself and reviving all the monsters in here.” We look around. Nothing stirs.
“Seems safe. I am standing by my actions. That was a nasty abomination.” I walk up to the gore, and the corpse disappears in particles of light, leaving behind a magic gem I collect, and a large piece of grey lace. Lace?
I pick it up and inspect it. Veil of Horror: Defends against mental attacks.
“This item is good against mental attacks. Maybe that guy would have been less gross if I was wearing this before.” I put it on, hooking it around my ears. Surprisingly, it doesn’t block my vision at all.
“I really want to tell you not to pull stunts like that, but I guess you could have used the experience if everything had revived. Just be careful, furball.” Rhynn finishes rolling a cigarette and lights it. That earthy smell surrounds us before he passes it to me.
I breathe deeply, and cough. Oh, this doesn’t make my head as floaty as it did before. Maybe that’s part of the veil too? I pass the cigarette to Podlihob. We continue to pass it around while Rhynn and Podlihob make fun of my new accessory, including such chestnuts as ‘You look like an old lady made of pubic hair’ and ‘Who’s the groom at your wedding’.
We finish the cigarette after about half dozen retorts on my part. Before we exit the cavern, Rhynn looks at me and says
“This next area is an underground city. I’m going to pull small groups at a time for us to take out. The casters will lag behind the rest, so you take care of them with that wire after we take out the non-casters.”
The next section goes exactly as he says. I actually get a little bored with turning snake-people into gooey messes. Rhynn begins bringing larger and larger masses of snake-people, until finally he says
“We don’t need to be that cautious. I’m bringing the rest of the city.”
A mass of snake-people like we had not seen before comes. I swear I saw a snake person in overalls in there. Was that a farmer? To use a farming analogy, we destroy them all, turning them into the fertilizer from which my new levels shall grow! Or something to that effect, anyway. We easily destroy several hundred snake people. When they are all dead, I ask something that’s been bugging me.
“Where are the children? It’s a whole city, but everybody is full grown?”
For some reason, the question of children keeps popping up in my head as important. I wish I could remember why.
“Dude, it’s a dungeon. It’s all just, you know, magic and stuff. The items and gems we get stick around, but none of the rest of this does.” Rhynn has a flask out and takes a pull off it before handing it over to me.
“Don’t sweat it.”
I take a drink and wince. It’s that gross whiskey with the artificial cinnamon flavor. I quickly hand it back to Rhynn.
“I’m good on that garbage. I’ll try not to sweat the kid thing, just something was bugging me. It’s all good. How much of this place do we have left?”
“There’s a couple of treasure spots in the city, and then the final boss.” Rhynn finishes the flask.
I collect all the magic gems and we move on. The first treasure chest in the city holds several large magic gems and coins of various denominations. The second has a large spool of magical fabric.
“Vendor sploof!” Rhynn declares. The third treasure spot is the good one. In that one, we find a wand carved to look like a snake, its mouth open, with an emerald set in the mouth. I eagerly inspect it.
Snake Wand of Thule: A focus for magical energies. User may add venom to their spells. Attacks made with this wand may also cause poison.
I can add venom to my spells! Hooray! I don’t have any direct attack spells I can use this with, boo. As I frown at the wand, I have a realization. I can poison with attacks made with this wand, right? How about I attach one of my wires to the wand? And I can summon the wire at the end of wand with my extra-dimensional magics I’ve been researching and using. I get Rhynn and Podlihob to wait while I mess around with the wand, and after bout ten minutes, I finally have a weapon I can appreciate.
We continue to the enormous temple in the back of this city. There in the temple is an enormous snake-person dressed in ornate ceremonial robes and holding a staff and a mace. Rhynn walks up to it and casts a spell, which makes a huge fist drop on it, and the giant explodes into a pile of goo. That was anti-climactic. We get a large magic gem and a shield.
“A shield? Trash!” I shout, grinning at my party. The boss’s remains vanish, and a glowing portal is left there. We touch it, and I conquer my first dungeon.