Chapter 15 Bad doggos

Aaron just grumbled in response while shaking his head “You people are crazy. Well suit yourself. Fighting higher leveled beasts often means having to use skills more often until you kill them. The experience you receive for your skills is enormous when fighting monsters alone...if they’re higher levels even more so. It’s very effective but as I said very stupid and dangerous. Cost many a new adventurer his or her life. Having someone on watch while you do it is the least you could do although not even that is a sure way to be safe. We both know how fast a secure fight can change into death. Seeing that elf yesterday should be a lesson to you.”

‘It’s like he’s lecturing a young girl...well I am rather young but what is he? Thirty?’ nodding at his advice, Ilea stood up.

‘The idea with someone on watch is pretty good though, maybe I could do that...I’ll just have to find a fighting nut like myself. Someone who can blink too so we can save each other in tricky situations.’

“I’ll think about your advice Aaron. Thanks for the info though. I do believe it’s time to wake the others though.” agreeing with her, Aaron got up and together with Ilea woke the others up.

“Time for guard change?” Oliver asked but Aaron shook his head.

“Ilea did most of it, it’s morning already...I think. Not too good at judging the time below the earth.”

Nodding in appreciation, Oliver got up “Thank you, I do hope though that you don’t need as much sleep...don’t want a tired healer in the group.” he said.

“Don’t worry, I did get my needed sleep.” answering him, she moved to put out the fire but it suddenly simply stopped burning as Oliver waved his hand, a grin on his face.

“Teach me that.” she said suddenly.

“What? Are you joking?” he replied, a bit of a perplexed expression on his face.

“I’m not actually. I don’t have a second class and I think fire enhancer would be perfect. Can you teach me the basics of being a fire mage?”

The other two were awake by then too, the cave they were in rather dark without the fire. “Well you’re a direct one...normally this is a pretty complicated process. An expensive and complicated process. You know what though, maybe I can distract myself a little by teaching you though. I don’t like caves and I don’t like the prospect of my home being destroyed by elves even more.”

Clapping her hands together, Ilea smiled brightly “Great, when do we start?”

Walking together through the cavern corridors, it had been ten minutes since the group left their shelter. They decided to explore the dungeon and map it out as best they could. Their goal was an alternative exit hopefully not too far from Riverwatch. Ilea was focused on the burning torch in her hand though. Well it was basically just a piece of wood that was burning.

‘Infuse the fire with mana...feel the fire...become the fire! Well he didn’t say that but that basically sums it up. All I’m getting though is that it’s hot.’ healing her burns occasionally the others just smiled a little at her attempt to become a fire mage. Some made it in a day and others needed weeks or even years to unlock the class but at least the atmosphere was a little lighter due to her antics.

Another whiff of burned flesh entered their noses as Ilea again simply held her other hand into the flames.

“Are you sure you’re alright? You know burns hurt right?” healing herself against the fire, Ilea was much too focused to react to Aaron’s question.

“I do believe she knows about that judging by her face.” Geronimo smiled and most of the group chuckled. Five minutes later, Oliver held up his hand.

“Quiet now. We have company.” Just as he finished talking, two rather huge hounds with abnormally long teeth and black fur emerged seemingly out of nowhere right before them. Letting the piece of wood fall to the ground, Ilea identified them.

[Stalker Hound – lvl ??]

“Eleonora? What are their levels?” she got out of her daydream when she heard her name

“Oh, doggies!...their levels you ask? Hmm...97 and 99...they’re soooo cute though oh my goood!” nearly squealing at the two beasts before them, the hounds bared their teeth. Now only standing ten meters from the group and slowly advancing. Unsheathing their weapons, they readied themselves.

“They’re a lot higher than us so nothing stupid, Ilea you stay behind the two. This is gonna be difficult...” Aaron said as his skin became rock. The temperature behind Ilea got higher as Oliver prepared a spell. Several birds flew in front of Aaron and Geronimo, starting to drop stones between them and the hounds.

“You sure the tunnel won’t collapse?” Oliver looked at Aaron with a doubtful expression

“Yes, these walls are very sturdy. Rock mages seem to have made them stronger to prevent just such an event for the miners.”

Suddenly changing to a full sprint, the hounds advanced not understanding or caring what their supposed prey might be saying. They nearly reached the designated tanks of the group when five explosions filled the tunnel with fire.

Two shields flared to life as Aaron and Geronimo held the stones they got from Eleonora in front of them. The noise died down and the smoke cleared and two slightly injured hounds continued their advance. The shields began to shatter just when a barrage of glass shards entered the beasts.

It definitely affected them but the cuts seemed rather shallow. A quick sword jab from Geronimo cut one of the distracted hounds right in its maw. Aaron swung his lute but the beast simply jumped back, dodging the slow blow. Three birds dropped another barrage of explosive stones down on the now a little further away hound.

Geronimo tried to do his best at dodging the hound he cut before, but it was soon upon him. Right before it could bite down on his sword arm though, Ilea appeared next to them and punched the hound on the side of its head.

The beast flew into the wall and Ilea didn’t let up. Immediately appearing next to the disoriented monster, she let loose a barrage of attacks, fueled by both her aura spell State of Azarinth and her attack skill Destruction.

The hound got hit at least eight times before it managed to turn towards her. Biting down on her incoming arm, its teeth penetrated only about a centimeter deep. Ilea’s strengthened body didn’t allow the beast to take her arm.

“Oliver now!” she shouted as she held the hound to the wall with her arm still in its maw. A spear of burning glass entered the pinned stalker hound.

The blast made the beast release its prize. Immediately continuing her assault, Ilea kneed the falling hound in its stomach. “Geronimo switch!” she shouted as she stepped back to heal her bleeding arm.‘Fuck that hurts’

Aaron meanwhile held off the second hound with rock spikes from the ground and occasional swings of his lute. The monster grew increasingly wary of the birds that circled above it. Both attacking the rock enhancer and getting further back was not an option. Another spear of glass and two stabs from Geronimo finished the first hound, its bloody corpse sacked to the ground.

Not quite finished with healing, Ilea shouted to Aaron while she ran toward him “I have an idea. Rock spikes from the wall to your left please!” doing as she asked, Aaron released his magic. Ilea blinked behind the hound and grabbed its tail.

‘They’re lighter than the Drakes...’ with a grin on her face she spun with the tail firmly in her uninjured hand. The rock spikes appeared right when the hound was smashed full force into the wall.

Most of them shattered instantly but some managed to penetrate the beast. Aaron followed up immediately with a massive smash of his metal lute to finish the beast.

ding’ ‘Your group has defeated [Stalker Hound] x2. For killing an adversary 50 or more levels above your own you receive bonus experience.’

‘Not even a level for that? Is this the group thing they’ve been talking about?’ the bleeding on her arm stopped as her health regenerated at a rapid pace.

“Those things are tough. I normally only need one spear to kill anything around my level...” Oliver commented from the back.

“Yea, my sword barely scratched them...and I nearly died there...thanks Ilea.” Geronimo added.

‘Really? This was much cleaner than many of my fights before...I guess I won’t mention any of that to them.’

“You really are crazy...although your plans did work and you can heal yourself so it’s alright. I do hope you didn’t waste all your mana in that fight...” Aaron removed the lute that was half stuck in the hound and half stuck in the crumbling earth spikes he had summoned.

“Hmm? Oh yes I only used a fifth of my mana and I can move while meditating so it’s not an issue.” the mages in the group stopped moving.

“You have meditation in the second stage?? At lvl 47? I’m still not there and I’ve been using the skill for years!” Oliver shouted.

“She’s a nutter, fighting all the time and immediately using meditation then continuing to fight...I’m assuming that’s correct?” looking at her Aaron stated his suspicion. Her nod made him grumble a little. “Yea, I heard that some of the bonuses from fighting higher leveled monsters and fighting alone stay for a little while after the fight for certain skills...meditation seems to be one of them.” seeing the topic as closed he put his lute on his back and checked the hounds.

Oliver’s mouth was closing slowly “We should skin them and take some of the flesh to eat later. Never had stalker hound but it can’t be worse than rocks.” Geronimo said as he started to work on one of the corpses with his sword, grumbling about not having a hunting knife and crazy mages teleporting around.

“That was awesome Ilea!!” Eleonora shouted “When you grabbed the doggy by its tail and smashed it into the wall! Hahahahahaha!” running up to her and hugging the much taller woman, her giggles were drowned in Ilea’s chest.

“And she doesn’t even have a second class...” Oliver grumbled from behind.

“I also can’t throw fiery glass spears from dozens of meters at my enemies...” she said as she patted Ellie’s back.

“Fair enough...I have to say I normally hate having fighting fanatics in my group but it being our healer doesn’t seem so bad.” he answered, a little less grumpy. “Now get that piece of wood again and train.”

Saluting to Oliver, Ilea freed herself of Ellie and started burning herself again. Feeling the flame of course, just a little more literally than most aspiring fire mages.

“Alright then I think we should move on. Let’s hope it’s a while before we meet the next group of beasts.” Aaron said after the hounds were skinned and the meat was put into makeshift bags made from their fur.

Continuing on, they soon reached a fork in their path. Choosing one side at random, Eleonora whistled while Ilea burned herself. Oliver sometimes gave a little not very helpful advice while Aaron and Geronimo maintained focus on their surroundings.

‘Learning from that guy might not have been the best he was a natural.’ she thought.“Hey Oliver, how long did you need to get the fire mage class?”

“Oh I immediately got the pyromancer was kind of an accident anyway haha I was cooking for my then girlfriend...well let’s just say the house burning down didn’t help with our future relationship.” the story garnered a couple chuckles from the group but Ilea just sighed.

‘Perfect, so he’s just telling me to feel what is natural for him...don’t have anything better to go on though...’ having mapped a sizable portion of the mine another hour later, their second encounter with the new residents happened in the form of a group of four stalker hounds.

Although they were a little lower in level, the group was much more apprehensive. Numbers made a huge difference in any fight after all.

“Oliver a line of fire before us, let’s see if they get more defensive. Eleonora full offensive, I want you to bomb them with everything you have before they even think of advancing. Ilea you can take a hit so stand between me and Geronimo.” while speaking, a line of fire formed before them.

Right behind it Aaron summoned spikes as another line of defense. A swarm of birds already closing in on the hounds as they turned towards the group of survivors.

“Oliver, glass bombs!” Aaron shouted. The previously discussed idea came to fruition as chunks of glass form around provided stones by Eleonora. The swarm of birds released their payload and explosions rang through the caves. The hounds disoriented and injured by the blasts staggered towards the group just as chunks of glass flew into their midst. “Now Ellie!”

Snapping her fingers, the chunks exploded and a massive amount of glass shards cut through the hounds. Some of the birds above got hit and even the trio standing behind the line of fire recieved some damage.

Charging in a blind rage of pain and anger, the hounds advanced on the group. A spear of glass hit one of them in the back. The fire was not enough anymore to deter the beasts, they jumped right through it.

Not able to see through the flames they impaled themselves in the spikes behind it. It only stopped them momentarily though as they broke through. Each of the three warriors was now fighting against one of the hounds while Oliver tried to keep the fourth one further back with his ranged attacks.

Kicking her hound in the jaw as it jumped at her, Ilea punched the falling dog with both fists. The beast flew back a couple meters and she immediately changed her targets to the hound pressuring Geronimo.

Hitting it hard in the side, she gave him the opportunity to strike before she had to focus on her hound again. Geronimo took full advantage of the opening and cut the hound on both legs in an attempt to hamstring the beast, making it much slower.

Having suffered a couple scratches from the monster in front of him, Aaron activated his defensive spikes just when Ilea got out of range to the right of him. The hound flew in the air as he swung his lute like a baseball bat to throw it back again.

Explosive stones fell onto the now three hounds further back with the occasional barrage of glass shards cutting into them. One of them fell to its stomach, its struggle was over while the two other hounds advanced again.

Dodging another lute blow, one of them bit deep into Aaron’s leg. A pained shout escaped the man as he punched into the beast with all his weight and power.

“Oliver spear at me now!” blinking away in the last moment, the spear of glass entered the leaping beast right into its mouth, ending its life in an instant.

Geronimo meanwhile traded cuts with his injured hound. The latter was in a much worse state due to its slowed movements and the warrior’s better reach. Ilea appeared behind the hound and kicked it in its side. Knocked off balance, Geronimo managed to cut deep into its neck. The stalker hound died but not before it managed to dig its claws deep into its killer’s right leg.

Checking to see if she had to help Aaron, Ilea realized that the fight was already over. The jaw of the beast was still loosely hanging on Aaron’s leg as he smashed his massive fist into what’s left of the beast. Shouting with every punch.

Walking up to Geronimo, she began healing his wounds. The bleeding closed rapidly at her touch. It took only a minute to heal him completely. Only the crackling of some fire around the cave and the rhythmical wet blows of rock against flesh were heard as Ilea turned to Aaron.

She simply walked next to him and started to use her healing spell. Feeling him calm down a little, she grabbed the hound’s head and ripped it away from his leg. He growled but soon calmed down again when he felt the wounds healing.

“Fucking FUCK that hurt!” he said, throwing what was left of the monster at the wall. “I hate fighting things tougher than me.” he said as he lied down on the ground. Two minutes later his wounds were healed too, at least the physical ones.

“Seems we should go back now, I don’t think we can take another fight like this.” Oliver calmly said from behind.

“Agreed, I want to eat and lie down.” Geronimo added. Ilea nodded and Aaron only grunted from the ground.

“I don’t have any stones anymore anyway...and my poor birdies...” holding some injured birds in her arms Ellie caressed them as best as she could. Walking up to her, Ilea began to heal them which only made Ellie more emotional.

“Thank you so much…I...I..Ilea bahaaa” she sobbed.

‘Oh no please don’t cry woman...’ thankfully she quickly calmed down as her birds were healed and the group soon left the burning part of the mine behind to take refuge in their shelter.

ding’ ‘Your group has defeated [Stalker Hound] x4. For killing an adversary 50 or more levels above your own you receive bonus experience.’

ding’ ‘Azarinth Healer has reached level 48. 5 Stat points awarded.’

ding’ ‘Reconstruction has reached 2nd lvl 9’

‘Yey, more power to meee.’ smiling at the messages, the group reached their hideout another hour later without any further incidents. Apart from Ilea’s heat resistance gaining another two levels.

A note from Rhaegar

2019 June: Updated to address issues with tenses, spacing, paragraphs and dialogue.

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