When I dropped into the floor I expected crystal blocks similar to what I saw when Matt fought Nenvari; instead, the first thing I noticed, other than the intense lung searing heat, was that I was surrounded by blocks of pure magma.
I tried to swallow. Saliva dried on my tongue. There was, without a doubt, no way I could continue down without something... Then I remembered the useless Personal Weather spell and flew up and back into the floor protector’s space.
My body instantly cooled down to a reasonable temperature.
“Back so soon?” Korren teased.
“As if you don’t already know how impossible it would be for someone to mine down there without magic.” I pulled out my book and frowned.
The spell needed 5 points to cast initially, but I only had 4. Granted, all my Telekinesis use over the past two days had made it, so I’d nearly reached my 5th point, but I still had about 5 percent to go.
I focused on my bow and cast Telekinesis on it. It floated away from me a few blocks.
“It’s not impossible,” she said. “Miners who reach the fourth floor purchase a device that blocks heat.”
I eyed her. “And how much does something like that usually cost?”
“You’d have to ask Merchant Meeks.”
I shook my head. “For now I’ll stick with magic. I need to up my mana points anyway. I’m still not even halfway to what normal people start with. Probably not even to what most magi start with.”
She tapped her chin. “I have a theory about that.”
My gaze focused in on her and my bow clattered to the floor.
“You could be naturally ungifted.”
“Or, when Prince Nenvari turned you from a normal human into a human with a spurious body, he may have used your innate magic to do so, leaving you with only a fraction of your original magic.”
“But if he did that, wouldn’t it have built back up over time?”
“No, because spurious bodies require a constant stream of magic to stay stable. I also don’t think that he did exactly that to you.”
“Then what did he do?”
She paused. “I’m no mage or magic expert, but knowing the few things I do, I believe he used part of your magic and part diffuse magic to remake your body.”
I cast Telekinesis on my bow again and floated it back over to me. It just figured that Nenvari would steal most of my magic for his own purposes.
“That might explain it.”
“It would make more sense that he’d use only the magic in your body to make a self-contained system, but that is unlikely since the amount of mana you would have needed to produce before whatever he did would be staggering.”
“Thank you for telling me your theory. Unfortunately, it doesn't help me right now."
She frowned. “I suppose it doesn’t.”
I concentrated on my spell and Korren watched me. After just under ten solid minutes of holding my bow aloft, my Satellite once more expanded my core by one point.
I immediately opened my book to the Personal Weather spell description. It was similar to Telekinesis in that it required a learned spell description and concentration to keep it up, but it was different in that it needed me to will it to be a certain temperature/ wetness/ dryness and shading. It was literally my own Personal Weather. If I wanted to, I could even make it always snow around my body. Then I could wear blue and go around carrying a gun while calling myself Ms. Freeze. Not that I would.
I took out my book and journal and started copying the more complex spell diagram. It looked like a circle under three parallel squiggly lines, next to a backward e with quotation marks next to it. To the right of all of that, I drew a line that looked like a dragon.
I used the revised Reaper Pen to copy it over and over again. After a while, Korren spoke up. “That is a dangerous magic, Ms. Knight.”
“What? Personal Weather?”
“No. The other.”
I stilled, realizing she meant the Reaper Pen. “Huh? Why? I mean it can’t hurt anything or anybody.”
She shook her head. “Sometimes just knowing something can prove dangerous. So do yourself a favor, and avoid using it if you can.”
“But like this it’s safe.”
She disappeared, apparently getting bored with me already.
When I was satisfied that I’d memorized Personal Weather and had gone over the other spells, I cast it so I would be just a little cooler than I usually preferred.
I flew into the fourth floor once again. This time the magma blocks around me didn’t cook me from the inside out.
Logically, I could use Personal Weather and Telekinesis at the same time. Of course, if I didn’t time it correctly I’d end up roasting myself for 30 seconds while I waited for my mana to return.
I studied the layout in my mind map.
Below me sat an obsidian boulder, the same kind used in the final boss level. To my right, I had three magma blocks, a clear area and then a freaky snake thing that had coiled itself around a chest. Well, it wasn’t fully a snake since its upper body appeared to be some kind of fishman if said fish had been the kind that preferred magma to water. It held a lantern and a bell with its webbed hands. To my left, I had several blocks and then a boulder of Cold Steel.
I grinned. Finally, I’d get to see what this metal looked like in its raw form.
Quickly, I dug through the blocks and reached this new ore. Like the previous ones, it was huge, taking up a whole block. At its size, I bet that it could make over 100,000 swords. Like my armor, it glowed with rainbow-tinged magic, but it also felt cold, even with my Personal Weather up. It was so magically icy that it caused the edges of the magma blocks around it to turn black.
When I collected it, I gasped and my mind froze in shock. 600 coins for one! If that was the case, then just what kind of dangers down here did I have to face to make the cost worth it?
At the edge of my map, I saw a ruby scorpion crawl inside a cage. Suddenly, a translucent elf in a white dress floated up through solid blocks of magma and obsidian balls. She stopped near the creature waiting for it to come closer, then she screamed. The scorpion broke into a million tiny versions of itself and fled. The ghost, for that was what it had to be, laughed and continued floating toward me.
Maybe it was a good ghost that I could reason with?
Korren’s reminder that things down here could literally kill me, ran through my mind.
Best not to tempt fate.
I flew back the other way and decided to take the chest from the fishman-snake.
Maybe I could lure it away somehow and crush it under a boulder? Or, I could find a boulder above it, roll it over and crush it that way. If I ran through 7 more blocks, I could charge my bow then kill it as long as my bow didn’t need an upgrade, which it probably did.
With a sigh, I decided to try to lure it to under a nearby obsidian stone.
I approached the fishman-snake. When I stopped 3 blocks away, it paused in its slithering. It coiled around the box and peered at me with its beady black eyes. With a fluid motion, it rang the bell. The sound was beautiful and pure.
I stepped closer. This time there two rings vibrated through me. Wetness ran down my lips, and I hesitated. When I touched my finger to the moist area, it came away red with my blood. That was a warning if I’d ever seen one.
I swallowed. I had to approach it again to see if my way of luring it was indeed viable. Besides, if I needed to I’d use a Life Saving Crystal.
When I stepped one block away, the creature lifted the bell.
You are about to die. Want me to save you?
“What? I don’t even get to see what it does?”
The crystal didn’t respond like the Weapon Recharge Cubes would have.
“If I explain how it’s surrounded by glowing magma and doesn’t need a lantern, you think it will be lenient with me?”
Still no response. I sighed.
“What happens if I say ‘no?’ Will I get sent to the space between life and death again?”
I stared at the monster. It was probably going to kill me with sound. That had to be easier than everything else I’d suffered through. Right?
Time resumed. The bell rang. Pins stabbed my ears; pressure crushed my temples and my limbs locked in place.
Then it crashed again. Just where was that crowbar tearing apart my skull? And just how did the world get so wiggly?
A third boom. Waves of sound beat at my skin, but it was my soul that ripped out of my body. I was weightless. For a brief moment, the gaze of hundreds of hungry inhuman apparitions eyed me as if I were the first meal they had seen in centuries. Just as I thought they would pounce I appeared within the grey.