Rain spent a few more minutes practicing against the dummies, trying to get a feel for how extend aura interacted with refrigerate. He was glad to learn that he could choose not to extend the range, should he wish to conserve mana. He experimented by temporarily putting a few points in focus, keeping his skills menu open to watch as the damage on his refrigerate aura increased. It seemed like the scaling on the damage was really bad, so he backed the points out and closed the window. I’ll put them in something if I need it. I know I can kill a slime with a spear, so if I get in trouble I can run away and dump them into strength. Slimes are slow and not that bright.
Moving back out to the main guild hall, Rain noticed that there were considerably more people milling about, some waiting in lines at the counters, others examining the board, and some just standing around and talking. Surveying the room, he saw many bronze plates and the odd silver one here or there, as well as many people with no plate showing. Some of these were clearly guild members, just not displaying their plates, but others seemed to be just regular people. He was a little disappointed that there weren't any elves or dwarves mixed in with the group.
Quickly, Rain walked back to the bunkroom and retrieved his spear from under the bunk he had been using. Thankfully it was still there. He was less worried that someone would have stolen it and more worried that someone would have thrown it out. It was hardly an impressive weapon.
Walking back into the guild foyer, Rain saw that Gus didn't have anyone at his counter at the moment, so he walked over to him and nodded.
“Slime?” he asked.
Gus nodded, walking out from behind his desk and motioning for Rain to follow, giving his spear a dubious look. One of the other clerks shouted at Gus as he left the desk, but Gus just waved him off and led Rain out and into the square. He walked for a short way, trying to keep up a brisk pace while looking around the city, now in daylight. The buildings were predominantly wooden with tile roofs, though there was the odd stone building, such as the guild hall.
Luckily, Gus didn't take many turns as he led him through the city, alleviating Rain's worries about getting lost. He did know the word for the adventurers guild and could probably ask for directions from someone on the street, but he was glad to not have to worry about it. There weren't that many people out, but there was some traffic. Gus had stopped at the entrance to an alley which seemed to end in a flight of stairs, heading down. As Rain looked at the stairs, he saw a man coming up, carrying an empty, stained bucket.
The man passed them as they stood in the entrance of the alley, and Rain caught a whiff of whatever had been in the bucket as the man passed.
Auggggh, damn it. Idiot, where did you think slimes would be living? Of course it is a fucking sewer. That guy was emptying a chamber pot. What have I signed myself up for?
Gus pointed at the stairs, then, giving Rain's bare feet and makeshift spear another look, sighed, shook his head with an expression that clearly said ‘not my problem’. He turned to walk back to the guild.
“Wait!” Rain cried out, causing Gus to turn and look at him impatiently. “Slime… dangerous?”
Gus laughed and shook his head. “No, slime not dangerous. Slime <something>” he said, putting on an exaggerated face of disgust. He gave Rain’s bare feet another look, laughed, and turned away.
Rain almost put a point in purify right then and there, but he stopped himself in case he needed it for an offensive spell like firebolt. This is going to suuuuuuuck. Maybe it will be a nice sewer... yeah, who am I kidding. Still, do I really want to go down there alone? Looks pretty dark. I’m not too worried about slimes, Gus just said they aren’t dangerous and I know that they are really slow, so even if there are a bunch of them I could get away. What I am really worried about is something like that wolf…
Rain shook his head to clear his nerves. No, there wouldn’t be one of those down there. Rain told himself, watching as another man passed him to descend the stairs, carrying another bucket. That guy doesn’t have a weapon. I’m sure I’ll be fine. Damn it, famous last words, why did I even think that?
Rain’s stomach growled, reminding him that he hadn’t had breakfast. Fishing out his ration bar, he bit off a chunk with some effort and tucked the rest back into his pocket. I don’t really have the luxury of waiting. It is this, or starve. I don’t think medieval societies were big on social welfare. I wonder if I could get someone to come with me?
Rain recognized that he was stalling, and forced himself to move. Cautiously, he walked to the top of the stairs and looked down. Thankfully, there were torches burning on the walls for light and the smell wasn't too bad... yet.
Slowly, he made his way down the stairs, trying not to pay attention to the feeling of cold stone on the bottoms of his very bare feet. The smell was growing stronger, but it still wasn't worse than the familiar scent of a construction site porta-potty. By the time he reached the bottom, the light from the street was no longer reaching the floor of the stone tunnel. He waited as his eyes adjusted to the torchlight and his nose adjusted to the smell before continuing out into what appeared to be a waterway.
It wasn't nearly as bad as he expected, the water looked a little bit discolored, but it wasn't the literal river of shit he had been expecting. There was moss and fungus growing from the floor near the water, and there was a noticeable brown stain on the edge near the bottom of the stairs. Some careless individual must have dumped their disgusting burden a bit too close to the edge.
The floor of the tunnel was stone, but proximity to the water and the moss made it feel a bit slick and slimy on the soles of Rain's feet.
Exploring sewer barefoot, 2/10. Would not recommend. Fuck me, what am I doing down here?
Not seeing any slimes or hearing the distinctive splortch, Rain looked up and down the waterway. He could see torches off in the darkness every so often, casting soft pools of light and revealing one or two additional tunnels branching off in the distance.
Slimes are probably at the nastiest part. Shit flows downstream and all that. Fuck me.
Turning, Rain started walking slowly, watching his step until the torchlight faded so much that he could only make out general shapes. He slowed down even further until his eyes adapted fully. He found that he could see well enough to avoid stepping into anything... unfortunate, so he decided to continue.
As he traveled down the dark waterway, Rain reflected on his life choices up to this point. He had clearly messed up somewhere along the line and this was his punishment. He shuddered as his foot touched something that went squish.
“Just moss, it was just moss,” Rain told himself, trying to believe it, but failing pathetically. Soon, he came to an intersection with a torch and a tunnel leading off to the side. The tunnel sloped slightly upward but was otherwise nondescript. The tunnel was dry, with no channel for water in the middle. Rain was about to pass it by when he heard an echoing noise coming from the tunnel.
Yup. I recognize that sound. Going towards the sound. Fuck me.
Rain crept up the hallway, the torchlight fading. Before it dropped off completely, he saw the distinctive blobby form of a slime oozing towards him. He backed up slowly, leading it into the light and being careful to maintain at least two-meters of distance. As he got a better look at the thing, he noted that this one was colored green and brown, different from those in the forest. Thankfully, it still had the same [Slime] Level 1 floating over it, so it wasn't some sort of horrible murder-king death-slime or anything.
Looking behind himself, Rain eyed the distance to the water. He had plenty of space to work with, he should be able to kill the slime before he ran out of tunnel. He didn't want to try edging around it. Stopping, he waited for the slime to approach. At two-meters, it leapt as expected. Rain dodged back and stabbed forward, trusting to his spear to keep the slime at bay. He saw the slime's health bar decrease by around ten percent, giving him a baseline.
Ok, let's see how well this works.
Rain waited for the slime to leap again. He dodged, and this time instead of stabbing with his spear he stabbed at the barrier in his mind, releasing a freezing pulse of his refrigeration aura. As he had practiced in the guild, he pushed more mana into the skill to extend the range. The wave of cold brushed against the slime, which quickly started crystallizing. Rain pulled the mana back, being very careful with his limited supply. He saw with satisfaction that the slime's health had dropped by about a third while his mana had only dropped by a small sliver.
“Yeah, take that you nasty-ass ball of shit!” Rain shouted, backpedaling as the slime oozed towards him. It seemed to be moving a bit slowly, so Rain, feeling bold, stepped in without waiting for it to leap, stabbing at it with his spear. The slime bunched up as if to jump, but the spear hit first, puncturing it and causing it to twitch away. Pressing the attack, Rain swept his spear left and right, drawing deep furrows in the slime's membrane. The slime died without a chance to counter-attack, the cold apparently having severely reduced its speed.
You have defeated [Slime], Level 1
25 Experience Earned
The slime was starting to slowly spread out across the floor of the tunnel, flowing down the slope towards him. Rain walked up to the edge of the growing puddle of filth and poked around with his spear, looking for the Tel. He cursed. There was nothing there, either it hadn't had one, or he wasn't able to see it in the dark.
I'm not giving up that easy. Skills.
Pulling up the skills menu, Rain flipped to the utility page and added a point to purify.
I am NOT walking through that, and I need that damn crystal. Purify!
The icon in his vision changed from a snowflake to a diffuse white light. Focusing on it, Rain activated the skill. Pulses of white light gathered on his skin, much fainter than the light that Ameliah had used. Slowly but surely the light spread out in the tunnel. As it came into contact with the slime, it started to dry and evaporate, but it was slow, and the radius was uncomfortably close to Rain's feet. Gritting his teeth, he walked forward, right into the puddle, shuddering at the squelching feeling of the slime smooshing between his toes.
It will all go away, the skill will clean it all away. I will be clean, this is only temporary. Oh fuck, why does it have pulp?
It felt like it took around five minutes for the puddle to completely evaporate. Rain checked his skill panel to confirm the mana cost of the skill before committing to drying out the whole thing. He didn't want to run out of mana down here, but the modest cost of 10MP/min wasn't that bad. He even used extend to widen the radius so it included more of the puddle at once.
By the time he was done, Rain was standing in the center of an incongruously clean section of the tunnel. Getting down on his hands and knees didn't bother him, as the stone was free from slime, dust, and dirt. It looked as if it had been freshly scrubbed. He moved around the circle, then swore, not seeing any sign of a crystal. He was sure that he would have seen it if it was there; the torchlight was bright enough for that.
Dejectedly, he got to his feet and started moving deeper along the tunnel, wincing at the feeling of the slimy stone as he stepped out of the purified circle. There are more torches down here, so someone must use this tunnel for something.
He continued down the tunnel for another ten minutes or so before he heard the same characteristic noise indicating that a slime was near. He edged closer, his eyes searching the darkness. As the sounds grew louder, he managed to make out not one, but three forms inching their way towards him.
I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. Refrigerate.
Rain switched back to his offensive spell, berating himself for not doing so earlier, then edged towards the slimes. He tried to get them bunched up against one wall but had little success. Gritting his teeth, he stopped, waiting for the lead slime to make its leap. It did, and he dodged back, activating his aura and leaping back in, striking with his spear. He left the aura on as waves of cold rolled over the lead slime, extending it to maximum range and dodging back as the other two slimes leapt. The first slime was shaking and large chunks were starting to form near its surface. Darting back in, Rain maintained his channel and stabbed at one of the other slimes, letting his aura do its work.
The slimes were significantly slowed. He was able to dart in and out quickly enough to keep all three of them at bay until the first slime died, melting into disgusting chunky slush. Moving forward so the others would be fully in his aura, he stabbed at them until the last health bar winked out. It was only a few seconds but to Rain it felt like hours.
Panting, Rain deactivated his aura and stepped back away from the three growing puddles of greenish brown fluid. His knuckles were white from how tightly he had been gripping his spear.
You have defeated [Slime x3], Level 1
75 Experience Earned
Glancing at his mana bar, he saw that his prolonged use of the aura had dropped it down to a little over a third remaining. He felt a headache starting to build behind his eyes from the mental exertion combined with the smell of the thawing slime slushie coating the floor of the tunnel. He noticed that his stamina had also dropped to around half from all the walking combined with frantic combat.
Another level up, nice. First things first though.
Determinedly, Rain waded into the mess, switching to purify and trying to catch his breath as the slime started to evaporate. The aura seemed to work much faster on the smell, the fumes from the slime not being able to reach all the way to his nose before being purified into nothingness. Rain idly wondered about conservation of mass as he waited for the spell to do its work.
He got to his hands and knees once the area was reasonably slime free and hunted around for crystals. Rain slumped back after searching for a few minutes, losing hope that these sewer slimes would drop any tel. Either the forest slimes differed in more than just color, or he had gotten lucky before. Getting to his feet, Rain dusted off a bit of slime from his knees and canceled his aura.
No point getting 100 percent clean until I've taken care of the last one. Refrigerate.
Remembering to switch back to his offensive aura this time, Rain resumed his slow plod down the tunnel. It had started to slope downward again, and Rain was being cautious as the stones were slightly slick after the passage of the slimes. Just one more. If I see a group, I’ll run.
He came to an intersection after a little while and cautiously inched out into it, looking both ways. He couldn't see anything in either direction, no torches being lit in either branch. Rain stood, listening and searching the darkness, but seeing and hearing nothing save for the drip of water in the distance.
I guess this is it. I'm not going any further without a torch. I suppose I'll go back and grab one off the wall. I don't suppose anyone will miss it. Someone has to be bringing fresh ones down here, otherwise I wouldn't be able to see at all. I didn't think torches lasted this long.
Rain's musing was interrupted by a disgusting sucking noise, as if a gigantic suction cup had been pulled from a mildewed tile wall. He wasn't able to react or even determine the direction of the sound before a heavy, wet, something dropped down from the darkness overhead, landing directly on his head.
Rain twitched in fright and tried to scream, the only result of which was the exquisite taste of chunky, warm, unspeakable vileness forcing its way into his mouth. The slime pulled itself laboriously over Rain's body, attempting to engulf him completely, but not quite having the mass to manage it. Rain thrashed about with his spear, choking on slime as his skin started to burn from whatever juices the slime was secreting in its efforts to digest him.
Panicking, Rain fell to the floor and thrashed wildly, his spear forgotten. His hands clawed at the slime as he tried frantically to clear his airway. In some small corner of his panicked mind, Rain suddenly recalled that he had a way out of this situation. Concentrating, he activated his refrigeration aura at full strength, not even realizing that he was wasting mana by extending the range needlessly.
He felt the temperature of the slime on his skin rapidly drop, rough chunks of ice forming and growing larger. He didn't relent, clawing at the slime blocking his mouth. The slime died from the cold and started to lose cohesion, falling away as a slushy, chunky mass. Rain vomited out the contents of his stomach, then curled into a shivering ball. His aura flickered and died, his mana fully depleted.
You have defeated [Slime], Level 1
25 Experience Earned