I shook with adrenaline and fear.
“Okay, that was way worse than I thought it would be.”
My vision of the gray world blurred and wetness caressed my face. I wiped my cheek and stared at the tear I didn’t recall expelling. My lips twisted into a scowl and I glared at it. Sure that was scary, but it didn’t require waterworks.
“Did you learn anything from that death?”
“Yeah, kill everything on the fourth floor with great prejudice. Great, great, great prejudice!”
He chuckled and patted my head.
I stared up at Mr. Black. “By the way, why does Korren have a scythe?”
“That’s a strange question. Is there some reason why she can’t have one?”
“Weren’t scythes reaper weapons?”
“Reapers use scythes, but others can use them as well, though not to the same effect.”
“May I please see your book? I have a way to take apart those pages.”
I handed him the weighty tome, and he pulled out a clamp-like gadget. He made the book float in midair and turned to the stuck pages. He placed those pages in the device then spun a lever. Once they were secure, he flicked a switch. The clamp opened, causing the pages to separate a little.
Once again slippery words exited Mr. Black’s lips. He jammed his hands between the pages and pulled out colorful threads. His ebony robe moved with a hurricane force wind that didn’t touch me at all. His hands blurred as unwound the threads. For an hour I had no idea what he was doing, but I was too fascinated to turn away. Finally, he pulled one last long multicolored thread. It vanished. He pushed up on the switch and unclamped the pages. The book floated down to me and I grasped it with both hands.
“Okay, that was totally cool.” I flipped through the unstuck pages. “Thank you.”
“It was the least I could to make up for Charcoal’s vandalism. So, what spells did she keep you from learning?”
“Minor teleportation, Minor Swap, Flameless Light, Minor Shock, Minor Area Shock, and Minor Haste! These are really useful spells!”
“That would explain why she kept them from you.”
“If these are this useful then what must the ones she tore out be like?”
“Knowing her? They would probably break the challenge in your favor.”
I sat down and swallowed. “The problem with all of these spells is that they cost between 6-15 mana points. And their diagrams get way more complex. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to memorize these.” I opened the book to Minor Swap. The diagram looked as complex as a page of kanji.
“You’ve learned your spells one at a time. Perhaps you should keep doing that?”
“Yeah, maybe.” I pulled out my notebook and began copying the spell, Flameless Light.
Range: 10 Blocks
Description: Creates a floating ball of light within range that can either stay still or float alongside you. This light lasts up to 10 minutes.
Its spell diagram was only slightly more complicated than Personal Weather, but that slight complication made it ten times harder to memorize. I kept getting the curve wrong on one of the squiggles and misplacing an upsidedown y. After a half hour of copying, I slammed my forehead into the notebook.
“Ugh! I need a break. I need to fight things and find emerald keys to upgrade my weapon, so I can kill whatever is on the fourth floor.”
“Then, follow me.”
I appeared back in the main cave.
“That didn’t take very long,” Korren pointed out.
“Well, I didn’t have any armor charges left, and I tried to take a chest.” I searched the eyes of the cave’s occupants waiting for them to say something. “Of course, then the monster hit me with its bell.”
Phenic snorted. “It’s called a slinfi. And walking up to it as you did is the worst idea possible.”
“I know that now!” I blew a lock of hair out of my eyes. “And why does it have a lantern when light surrounds it?”
“To keep the wraiths away,” Korren said.
“That ghost thing?”
“So, if I kill it can I steal its lantern?”
Phenic rolled his eyes. “Of course not. The lantern is soul bound to it.”
“The bell, on the other hand, will drop from the slinfi. And I’ll give you a crystal for every bell you bring me.”
“Speaking of crystals," I said. "Didn’t we have a bet about how I would totally defeat Korren without using a one? I distinctly remember owning that bet.” I motioned for him to hand over my winnings.
His cheeks flushed with color. “Fine!”
He tossed me an inventory cube that had 1102 crystals in it. “Woot!” I did a ridiculous little dance.
“The other two are for the jadinfray you killed.”
With a grin, I transferred them over and tossed the used inventory back.
I turned to Meeks who looked up from his fuchsia book with a raised brow.
“I have 244 so on the fourth floor I can go 61 blocks before needing an energy orb. Unless I see otherwise, I think my pickaxe is fine.”
“If you say so, Miss.” He casually flipped a page and continued reading.
I swallowed and cleared my throat. “How many upgrades can I get for 5050?”
He set his novel down. “3 leaving you with 250 coins. And after that, it will cost 3600 per upgrade. But instead of the 4 points, ye have been gettin’ ye’ll only get 2.”
“3600 for 2? That’s an insane markup!”
“Yes Miss, But here’s the thing. Yer tool is starting to approach the maximum durability a pickaxe can have.”
“So, what’s the point in mining ore then if I’m so close to my max durability?”
“Yer not there just yet. And there are other things ye can purchase.”
Both of his brows rose. “What? You think it was a mistake that I have candles, mining clothes, and gear?”
“Oh, right. So, what do you have?”
He smiled. “Many varied things. Even devices that make walking through the magma mines a breeze, but let me ask ye this. What is yer goal?”
“To defeat that —” I stopped myself from saying a nasty description, “Nenvari.”
“Then I’m tellin’ ye this honestly, focus on getting as many upgrades for your durability that ye can. Because yer not at the end yet, and even though 61 blocks seems like a lot, in theory, it isn’t. Not when yer runnin’ for yer life.”
He took my coins and my bow. Three crystals shot into it changing my durability from 244 to 256.
When we had finished, I walked to my mine and called, “Hey, Korren!”
“Yes, Miss Knight?”
“Get a weapon upgrade prepared because I’m going to come back here with an emerald key!”
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Bio: Artist and a retired game industry professional.