We venture forth, squeezing into the narrow tunnel and descending into the depths. Every now and again I can detect a monster forming and this prevents us being ambushed as we pick our way down.
I've managed to pile up a healthy amount of Biomass over the last while and none of it has been spent. While I wasn't paying attention it stacked up to twenty one! This was unheard of wealth when I was just starting out, completely ridiculous. Now, I've managed to not even realise I had so much as I devoted all of my attention and energy on my skills.
With this much I can purchase the +6, +7 and +8 upgrades for a single organ, but which to pick? I could go the new hotness of the gravitational organ or the old reliable of the infused mandibles, even hark all the way back to the eyes?
I think I'll go something that is directly combat relevant and upgrade my mandibles to +7. I don't want to run into anything else I can't tear through with my trusty face scissors. Combined with the power of my shattering bite skill this upgrade could have a powerful effect!
[Do you wish to improve Mandibles to +8? this will cost 21 Biomass]
Go for it!
My face! MY PRECIOUS FACE!
Once again the horror of the mutation itch has somehow slipped my mind completely and has stormed back to remind me just how mind meltingly irritating it really is.
My face is on fire. FIRE I SAY!
There was a distinct leap in the level of itch from +4 to +5, but I had assumed that was largely because of the mutation advancement. Apparently not!
Eventually the feeling fades and I came back to my senses. Tiny is impatiently standing behind me whilst I have been wibbling about the place madly scratching at my face. Don't look at me like that you lousy ape! Why is it I never see you scratching away yourself when you mutate?
I'm going to try and keep a closer eye on these pets of mine and see if I can spot them having trouble as they upgrade themselves. To help them? Of course not! I shall point and laugh! Let's see the look on your face then, Tiny!
Having recovered we continue on our way down the tunnel and we come to the section of tunnel were we had connected to an existing section of Dungeon in order to hunt and feed the colony. Here the trail stops. It looks like whatever had drilled out the old escape tunnel had started from here and not from the old nest.
If those horrific beasts I had heard but not seen had followed us all the way up here we would have had some serious problems, not to mention the human town would have been in some strife. This is by far the better outcome.
This time I make sure to leap into the active Dungeon tunnel before Tiny can lose his patience and shove me down. What greets my eyes is the same bustling scene from the first time we invaded this place. Low level Dungeon monsters fighting each other furiously in twos and threes up and down the tunnel, fallen monsters on the ground being contested fiercely as creatures try to heal and sustain themselves through the endless fighting.
[Get 'em Tiny!]
This tunnel is barely large enough for the big ape to move comfortably, being the kind of smaller offshoot tunnel that I had been born in rather than a main thoroughfare. He makes the best of it though and gleefully starts smashing his way down the tunnel whilst I follow along with my passengers aboard.
Whenever a monster from behind us tries to attack I subdue it with a quick blast from the business district. The unfortunate target is quickly set upon by nearby creatures as its movement becomes restricted and the acid begins to eat away at its health.
My goal is to try and find a larger, main tunnel. The monsters we find there should be more on our level and provide a larger boost to our growth. If I'm lucky we might even harvest a decent number of cores from such a location.
With Tiny in front we follow the twist and turns of the tunnel for thirty minutes, punching our way through every step of the way, before we come to what it is I've been looking for.
Ahead of the us the smaller tunnel suddenly opens wide into a much larger passage, the sound of fighting and the roar of monsters is our welcome.
Before us there is a rolling brawl of the sorts of monsters we had become accustomed to seeing in the forest. Bear Tyrants, Lion Ogres, Wolf-Dragons and others that I've never seen before. Armoured lizards the size of horses with mighty club like tails and two heads are facing off against huge creatures with snakelike tails that lead to an upright body festooned with claws and spikes that they whip about with blinding speed.
Tiny has become very still for some reason. I shuffle forward a little so I get a good look at his face.
[You okay there buddy?]
His face has gone completely slack as his eyes drink in the scenes of glorious carnage before him as if he were dying of thirst and staring at the freshest of pure mountain streams.
The infatuation, the adoration in those eyes… He looks like a giant bat faced ape in love!
Are you that desperate to fight things?! Really?!
Fine! You stand there and take in the sights. I'll jump in and steal your Xp!
With my two passengers clutching on tightly I leap down into the main tunnel, mandibles ablaze with energy as I channel mana into them.
The illusory jaws of energy extend from my mandibles and crunch down on the nearest monster who, refreshingly, doesn't collapse from the first attack.
The blood is starting to pump through my body as the excitement rises in my chest. Finally a good battle! I can stretch out and move at last!
I can test out my new techniques!
As I feint forward and back against my opponent, a battered Tyrant Bear who rumbles and slashes at the air in response to my provocation, bearing its tremendous fangs, I begin to craft my new magic within myself.
I hope you're ready for some of this flava! Taste my Gravity Bolt!
My practice has certainly paid off! It only takes me a few seconds to shape the magic and pump it full of energy until it is ready to launch. I lunge to once side, causing the bear to rear back out of my range as it prepares a retaliatory attack. At this precise moment I fire the Gravity Bolt! The foe has no time to react before the spell impacts it in the side, right on target! Immediately the magic takes effect and starts to drag the bear down.
I'm impressed though. The raw physical strength of this monster has allowed it to remain on its feet as opposed to being pressed flat against the ground like the weaker beasts I'd practiced on. The powerful gravity is still having an effect however, the bear is using so much strength to battle against the pull its legs are practically shaking, its eyes are still fierce but a tinge of fear is there for the first time.
How are you going to fight in that sort of condition Mr Bear?
Trying not to get cocky I keep an eye on my surroundings as I circle around the bear and begin my assault on its tremendous defences. In order to puncture that insanely tough hide I need to close the distance and use my physical mandibles. This is made fairly trivially easy however since I am quite nimble but the bear is struggling to turn and keep me in its eyes.
More mana into the mandibles!
[You have slain level 8 Earth Bear Tyrant]
[You have gained experience]
Behold my power!
As I'm glorying in my triumph a shattering screech echoes down the tunnel. Tiny is ready to fight!