Thomas wiped some sweat from his brow while walking around the room collecting the dropped mana crystals. They were somewhat smaller than the crystals he got from the skeletons. He attributed that to the fact that the zombies appeared to be weaker than the skeletons. Normally monsters grew stronger the deeper you went into a dungeon. In the case of this dungeon, the monsters got weaker but the sheer number of them made up for the difference in individual strength. It took a lot more effort to fight twenty enemies than less than ten. Well, if you didn't just use an explosion to destroy them.
Once he had all of the mana crystals, Thomas moved to Snowlily and flopped down while letting out a sigh. He'd used a lot of mana between summoning the vines and using the large fireball. His mana control and mana pool had both increased a fair bit since the time he was at the academy but a big attack still used a lot of mana. He needed to take a little time to recover his expended energy.
As he relaxed he recalled the feeling from casting the fireball spell. Strictly speaking, he didn't need to make any movements or say any spell names to use his magic. However, when he was casting the fireball the movements he made felt... right. He'd just mimicked things he'd seen in movies and TV shows but it seemed to help him focus on the image he had in mind. Frankly, he should have noticed sooner. He'd used a hand motion when using his metal magic to fire bullets back in the academy. Magic was pure fantasy, but it also seemed to follow some scientific principles. But...
Thomas looked down at his hands while opening and closing them. Mana flowed into his hands causing them to glow softly. He held his arms parallel with his palms facing each other. Within his mind, he pictured bolts of electricity flowing back and forth between his palms while converting his mana to the lightning element. Immediately thick blue bolts of electricity started to fire from one palm to the other creating a continuous blue arc of power. Unlike the first time, he summoned electricity haphazardly, this time it was a thick flowing bolt that didn't send out random sparks.
Thomas observed the thick bolt of energy as it crackled loudly between his palms. While grinning to himself he cut off the flow of mana and flexed his hands again, "This could get interesting."
He was supposed to be resting but he'd just wasted even more mana. He closed his eyes and let out a deep breath to activate 'Serenity' and increase his recovery rate. As he relaxed he could hear a couple of groups walking through the room while they explored the dungeon. He kept his eyes closed and didn't observe them. If they got to close Snowlily would probably do something to let him know. Basic dungeon etiquette was to leave each other alone. Only people with evil intentions would do something to people within dungeons.
It took about half an hour for Thomas to recover his expended mana. Thomas glanced down at Snowlily as he asked, "You ready for the next fight?"
Snowlily gave him a nod and a little woof in reply. Together they picked a pathway and moved deeper into the dungeon. The next room had been cleared not too long ago by one of the passing parties so they skipped it and picked another pathway. The end of the pathway led to another poorly lit room filled with a large group of more than twenty zombies. The zombies all turned to face Thomas as he moved into the room. At the same time, Thomas waved his hands while sending out his mana. As the mana wrapped around the zombies it instantly transformed into vines tightly wrapping them all up.
Holding the spell in place he looked down at Snowlily, "Go for it."
Snowlily let out a howl in excitement and charged at the group of restrained zombies. As she got close to one of the zombies she jumped into the air while summoning her mana. She slashed with her paw sending out four razor-sharp crescent-shaped pieces of ice. The attack sliced through the zombie cutting it into five pieces that all fell to the ground with a sickening 'splurch'. As she landed on the ground she opened her muzzle and summoned a thick sharpened icicle that she launched at another zombie. The icicle pierced through its chest and stabbed into the zombie behind her target as well.
Thomas watched with an amused smile as Snowlily went all out to deal as much damage as she could to the zombies before she ran out of mana. Once she did she walked over to Thomas and sat down by his leg. She tilted her head up while wagging her tail enthusiastically, her look clearing screaming 'praise me'. He reached down and stroked the top of her head, "Good girl, you did a great job! You even managed to take out three of them on your own."
She had dealt damage to several of the zombies but only managed to actually take out three of them on her own. That would net her more experience though so he was happy for her. With her role over, Thomas lifted his hand up and slowly curled his fingers into a fist. As his fingers curled the vines around the zombies started to tighten. Soon the room was filled with the sound of flesh ripped and bones breaking as the vines crushed the zombies into chunks of meat. The scent of the ripped apart and crushed zombies filled the room to a nauseating degree until the decimated bodies disintegrated into dust.
With the vines still summoned, Thomas got a bit lazy and used them to collect all of the scattered mana crystals into a single pile. With their job done, he released the spell and scooped up the pile of crystals, "That worked a lot better than the fireball. Not any less messy though."
The best part was the amount of mana he'd used to kill all of them was significantly less than he needed in the previous fight. Snowlily though, had completely run out of mana and wouldn't be able to do any fighting if they continued right away. The two sat down and relaxed for a while to let her recover. While she relaxed he opened his character sheet and checked his experience total. He needed over thirty-three hundred experience to increase all of his attributes by a single point each. He was pleased to see that he had over fifty-seven hundred experience now. These zombies really were excellent for gaining experience.
He spent the necessary experience to increase all four of his attributes to eighty-three. Unlike when he spends a large amount of experience for a large increase, he felt no stream of warm energy or any real change. With the experience he had leftover, he just needed another thousand or so and he would be able to increase his attributes another point. He decided that while he was working in dungeons he would just raise his attributes as he was going. He could horde experience while traveling.
When Snowlily was recovered they continued their journey into the dungeon. They worked together with Thomas using magic to restrain the zombies while Snowlily would take out as many as she could. Once she was spent he would finish the ground off and collect the mana crystals. Thomas could see how their teamwork could be done in the future when she was even stronger. Once her ice magic was strong enough they would both be capable of restraining or damaging targets. They could even overlap area damage to decimate groups.
For the remainder of the day, they worked together taking out groups of zombies together. To gain more experience, Thomas stopped taking breaks after every fight and only took one when he was low on mana himself. Though Snowlily wasn't able to rank up her ice magic as quickly she still gained a lot more experience this way and would be able to increase the size of her mana pool. The only downside of the exploration was that they never found the path leading down to the third floor. Instead, they somehow ended up back at the entrance of the second floor.
They teleported out of the dungeon and back into the city. The sun was already starting to set on the horizon dying the world in a myriad of colors as it filtered through the mana in the atmosphere. Thomas enjoyed the view for a short time with Snowlily cradled in his arms. This place really was beautiful. The location they were in was especially beautiful thanks to the multicolored light bouncing off of the polished stone making up the nearby churches. After savoring the sight for a while they left and made their way into the city.
Like the previous day, they spent some time to hunt down the street vendor with the sable boar skewers. It was really a terrible shame that they could only get four a day. If he could, Thomas would have blown a huge amount of gold to have some stored in his inventory to enjoy whenever he felt like it. Given the popularity of the vendor though... if he really did try that he would have likely been mobbed by the people in line behind him. With the skewers stored away in his inventory for later, they made their way to the guild to turn in some of the mana crystals they'd managed to gather.
|System Notice: Quest Complete! (x5)|
|Head into the dungeon and defeat the horrible zombies! Return to the guild with forty of their mana crystals!
Rewards: 1,750 Experience, 600 gold
|System Notice: You have gained 8,750 experience.|
Completing the quest took more mana crystals, but the zombies came in larger groups so that made plenty of sense. For either quest, it was basically two groups of monsters to complete one quest. He got more experience and gold for the zombies but he felt he deserved it. Those zombies had been so much more disgusting than the skeletons! With the experience and gold claimed they left the guild and went to their inn to enjoy their dinner together. Like usual it was good, for normal food. He was simply too lazy to find a different place to stay just to get served monster meat. Besides, they had the sable boar skewers for dessert. It might be meat, but it was so delicious it didn't matter.
In their room, Thomas opened his character sheet and spent the experience he gained from turning in the quest. Thanks to killing over two hundred zombies and the experience rewards from the quests his attributes were all sitting at ninety-one. His growth in this city was rather shocking to him. But, thinking about it, he was going into the dungeon with only Snowlily. Parties have to split the experience they can so a party of four heading into the dungeon would only get a quarter of the experience that he'd gained.
He leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest. He really wanted to get back on the road and find Hekrin's master. The experience here was too good though. He'd regret it if he left too early and ran into trouble on the road. Doing the math was pretty simple. If he could earn another thirty-five thousand experience tomorrow he could increase all of his attributes to one hundred each. He also really wanted to know if something would happen when he broke into the triple-digit realm. After all, back when he passed ten in his attributes he'd entered the superhuman realm. It had been a bit painful, but the strength he'd gained had been worth it.
Thomas looked at Snowlily while she dozed next to him in the bed. If he stayed another day she could get even stronger. Frankly, she already had her Magic attribute as half of his. The way her attributes were dispersed she was clearly going to become an agile spellcaster. If that was the case it wouldn't take her very long at all the be casting ice spells on par with his own in strength. In that case, tomorrow he would head into the dungeon once more. With the plentiful zombies and their experience, the two of them would experience and evolution in strength.
Thomas lay down while gently stroking Snowlily's head. He had no idea how strong she needed to be to take on a human form but, hopefully, she would be able to do it sometime soon. He hoped that once she could take a human form it would be much harder, or even impossible, for people like that red-headed wolf woman to tell what she really was. The next time he logged out he would check the forums and see if there were any similar situations. He could also reach out to a friend that was obsessed with game lore. He might be able to find something somewhere that could help. With all of his planning complete, Thomas drifted off to sleep for the night.