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After our night in Yugan, we had an early breakfast. Siranda and I traded a bit, exchanging some trail-bread and produce for the pelts, claws and teeth we had collected from the various game we had killed. The big hit, however, was the quicklime - we traded half our supply of it, getting some good, portable cookware for it. Now we could leave the heavy stoneware behind, making the large, non-magic backpack quite a bit lighter as the pelts and the stone-pots were too large to fit into the Bags of Holding.

I also learned what exactly Mudfins were; they were small humanoids, reminiscent of two-legged frogs. It was unknown if they had a language or culture, but they were mostly hunter-gatherers and if left unchecked multiplied at a high pace. Siranda did not know where they came from, they had started their colony during the summer and the best time to take them out would be during this first winter - afterwards, they'd simply overwhelm the local game with their numbers. The winter itself posed no threat to them; the type here was highly resistant to cold and could survive even the harshest of conditions. They lived in small caves they burrowed into the muddy riverbank during the summer so killing them would be a challenge as only Ylva would be able to enter their holes.

After our breakfast, we moved out into the dark, with me as a guide as I could easily see in the starlight thanks to my low-light vision.

Our plan was to move alongside the river, however we first had to scale the steep banks of the river. The riverbed itself was narrow and filled with the rocks the river had carried along during the time it had cut the valley over the centuries. On the banks were a few crippled pines and even more rocks. Up on the ridge, the rock-filled slope turned into a wide, windswept plain covered in snow. We made good time that day, keeping a ground-eating pace over the whole day thanks to the good night-rest we had. In the evening, we got lucky when we happened upon a large deer and took it down so we didn't have to break into our provisions but had fresh meat to make a nice soup with some roots we found when making camp. Sleeping between some rocks was by far not as relaxing as the night we had spent in the comfy bed in Yugan but we had to make do, at least we were out of the everlasting wind.

The next day, we once more broke camp before dawn, hoping to reach the Mudfin-Colony shortly before nightfall to scout it in the dying light and then strike them after dark. I had a few ideas how to drive them out of their burrows, which was in my opinion the main challenge in killing them. Otherwise the only way was sending Ylva and Lenore in and using Raven's Eye to cast spells inside. But sending a bird below the earth? Bad Idea.

The day went by quickly, I was happy that chances were that we'd reach our target the day after tomorrow and might be able to remove the Malediction from Sigmir, it felt harder and harder to suppress it each day and I was afraid that I'd be unable to keep it from harming her soon. Hopefully, someone at the Nexus would be able to help.

When the daylight faded and turned into twilight, we were able to see what had to be Mudfins. They were grotesque looking, strangely white like dead fish with bony spikes growing out of their backs. They walked on two legs but their arms were overlong, reaching almost to the ground when they moved in their bend-over gait that seemed to be their standard mode of locomotion. Their maws and eyes were far too large looking for their relatively small bodies and even from the distance one could see their teeth. Luckily it seemed like they had little in the way of weapons or tools, mainly sticks, occasionally enhanced with teeth or stones-shards driven into them. I was able to count about twenty five of the strange creatures and they vanished into small holes, so small that even Ylva would have trouble getting into them.

After dark, we got ready for our assault, first I closed off the holes with ice so we'd have to deal with only one at a time. Then, it was time to try something new with the old. First I buffed up me, Ylva and Sigmir with my Blood-Runes to strengthen and regenerate. We had tested it out and the spell would last roughly five minutes. Then I stood in front of the one open hole and started to channel a spell of Mist and Madness into their hole. It didn't take long, within a minute, we heard strange gurgling sounds from the hole and then two of the Mudfins burst into the open, their large eyes glowing red and both were bleeding from the scratches they had dealt to each other in their insanity. As soon as they were out, Sigmir and Ylva struck, each at one of them and I was right behind them, hacking into the things with my Frozen Butterfly-Wings. I also observed them, trying to gain some information.

Mudfin-Skipper, level 39, 382/491

In their Madness they didn't even try to defend themselves and within a short time, both died, even with their tough leathery skin and high amount of hit points. They only focused on one opponent, attacking in a frenzy and our third fighter could strike at them with impunity.

Mudfin Skipper died
You gain 1 300 EXP.
For killing an opponent 7 levels above you you gain Bonus EXP
For killing an opponent without a Traveller in your party, you gain Bonus EXP
Mudfin-Skipper died
You gain 1 300 EXP.
For killing an opponent 8 levels above you you gain Bonus EXP
For killing an opponent without a Traveller in your party, you gain Bonus EXP

Both gave a good amount of EXP and I'd only need a few more to reach the next level, Sigmir and Ylva had more luck, reaching level 29 and 34 respectively. Slow and steady wins the race, so I healed up the light injuries we had sustained due to their mad assault with my new combined Buff and Heal-spell and moved to the next hole. Shattering the ice was easy, then Madness descended on the Mudfins and this time it took a little longer until three burst out of the hole, one almost ripped to shreds, the other two hot in pursuit. Sigmir struck true on the first, relieving it of it's suffering, along with it's head. The other two went into a mad assault on me and I went full defensive, blocking with my blades and my shuttle while Ylva and Sigmir tore them apart.

The next two holes worked just as well and even gave me enough EXP to reach level 33 as for some reason, maybe because they were enemies for a quest, diminishing returns did not kick in.

Then trouble found us. The Mudfins must have heard what was going on and as soon as I removed the ice from the largest hole, an extra large Mudfin alongside four others burst out from it. I instantly jumped backwards to move into the formation we had planned. Sigmir was playing vanguard, holding the enemies back with her huge Lok'nar, Ylva was in the middle, making sure that nothing went past Sigmir and I stood back, throwing spells as fast as I could and supporting Sigmir with my shuttle.

At first, however, I observed the largest Mudfin.

Mudfin Pike, level 43, 576/576

Siranda had told me about the Mudin's resistance to frost so everything with Chill, Freeze or Cold was useless so I tried a Hardened Ice Spear but their thick skin protected very well against the piercing attack. With that, the solution lay in Darkness. My first course of action was to use Curse – Devour – Strength on the largest and it visibly weakened. Then I tried a beam of Dark Radiance, Devour and Blood on one of the smaller Mudfins and it looked as if it had aged by a century after the spell ended. Moments later, the diminished Mudfin was split apart by Sigmir's Lok'nar. Sigmir took quite a bit of damage holding them back and one got by her but was stopped by Ylva. I focused on that one and again, the Dark Beam took it's Vitality and Ylva ripped out it's throat when it was weakened by the spell-effect, leaving it to bleed out in the mud. My Astral Power was at about half capacity but it would be enough. Again, Ylva and I struck in concert, taking another of the Mudfins down with Fang and Darkness.

At that point, the Mudfin Pike gave a strange, gurgling war cry and it's eyes started to glow red with madness as it attacked Sigmir with abandon shaking my curse off and causing deep wounds, reducing her health significantly. When Sigmir stumbled and sunk to one knee, I shouted “Ylva, switch!” and then used Overboost on another Dark Beam striking the last smaller Mudfin before finishing it with my shuttle. Ylva focused on the Pike and managed to distract it from Sigmir and was now evading it's flurry of attacks while I ran to Sigmir who was trying to get her breath back. I immediately channelled a pure healing spell into her, taking great care not to stress her body unnecessarily, trusting Ylva to buy us time. When my Astral Power was dry, Sigmir was looking a lot better and both of us went to aid Ylva.

From then on, it became a game of keep-away, one person focusing on dodging and defending and the other two hacking away at the Mudfin Pike. It took a bit of time but soon the combination of its mad frenzy and our attacks had taken their toll and the thing fell, not getting back up again.

Mudfin Skipper died
You gain 1 300 EXP.
For killing an opponent 6 levels above you you gain Bonus EXP
For killing an opponent without a Traveller in your party, you gain Bonus EXP
.
.
.
Mudfin Pike died
You gain 2 000 EXP.
For killing an opponent 10 levels above you you gain Bonus EXP
For killing an opponent without a Traveller in your party, you gain Bonus EXP

 

Skill increased
You increased your skill: Darkness Rune-Mastery [44/100]

 

 

Skill increased
You increased your skill: Blood Rune-Mastery [35/100]

 

Skill increased
You increased your skill: Ice Magic [45/100]

 

Skill increased
You increased your skill: Dual Blade-Mastery [10/100]


I sat down and focused on the Astral River, regaining my Astral Power.

Skill increased
You increased your skill: Astral Meditation [24/100]

After I had my power back, we moved on and the next hole contained three Mudfins that died easily, the four in the next hole had ripped into each other like mad. Then the last hole contained three more and this time they were all rather beaten. I guess the Mudfin Pike had been the linchpin. making them a bit more dangerous.

As we had killed all Mudfins we had seen earlier, we sent Lenore into the holes to search for the eggs and in the largest hole, she was successful and I used Raven's Eye to be able to target them inside the hole and destroyed them with Darkness-Magic. When that was done, I broke to token to inform Siranda and we got a message.

Quest Completed
You completed the Quest: Kill the Mudfins
You completed the Bonus Objective: Destroy the Mudfin-Eggs
You gained: 20 000 EXP
You gained: 5 000 Bonus EXP
You reached level 34

Not only did I get my level-up, the others got one as well. I guess when it comes to levelling at this point, quests are a seriously big deal.

But we had done our duty to Yugan, so we could head towards Neyto with a clear conscience.

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Tsaimath

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