Upon entering the sewers a powerful stench assaulted the party's nostrils. While the gas mask did block the majority of the stench and the detrimental effects of gasses, it was far from being sophisticated enough to block out the powerful stench of the sewers.
"Stinky, stinky, stinky, stinky stiiiiiin~kyyy!!!!!!" Cindarrah shrieked at the top of her lungs.
"Better get used to it Cindarrah, we'll be stuck down here for a while!" Zaran said with a large grin plastered on his face due to Cindarrah's behavior. To him the stench was bearable to some regard. Having experience with things that smelled far worse in previous lifetimes his tolerance level had risen considerably. While how well he could stand it varied from lifetime to lifetime generally he had a higher resistance compared to the majority of the planet's population. Blood and gore followed the same principle, even though he was no stranger to it, if his body couldn't stand the smell of blood or the sight then he'd still be bothered by it.
But his grin soon faded as he checked the condition he'd be fighting in. The sewer grew larger the deeper they went in and now the width of the complete sewer spanned twelve meters and the height was 10 meters. A six meter wide stone sidewalk that was filled with dirt, dust and glowing mushrooms took half the width of the sewers, while a six meter wide river filled brown murky water took the other half of the full width. Drifting along the murky brown water were feces, piss, waste and even half decomposed bodies of rats, humanoid skeletons and half eaten monsters that were barely recognizable.
The circular cobblestone walls of the sewers were no longer grey as moss and glowing mushrooms were growing all over them. The ceiling had traces of cobwebs, yet they were all filled with dust, not even a spider or fly could be seen in the webs.
Zaran was quite intrigued by these glowing mushrooms but at the same time he was also scared. If any form of life was particularly colorful or noticeable it was usually highly dangerous. Yet the major hadn't said anything about them, thus Zaran concluded that they were not dangerous at all, because if they were the major certainly would've warned them.
Suddenly Kirin growled as she shook some filth from her paws.
"She's going to need a ridiculous amount of baths after this is over" Nuvahn remarked.
"We all are going to have to soak for a day at least." Zaran replied bitterly.
"Did you really have to accept this quest?"
"The coin is really good and there's a bonus reward if we can keep the rat population from ever going out of control again."
"What's the bonus?" Nuvahn asked, his tone filled with curiosity.
"A house, manor or pavilion of my own choosing."
"Damn... that's a rather generous bonus. You should definitely choose a pavilion!" Nuvahn said as he stroked his chin. "You would be able to get a lot more disciples that way and if you do it like the other guilds you can send them on missions for some stuff before they get to learn a new skill and give a reward that's worth less than the items they have to hand in. It'd be a good way to get more gold."
"That'd be a good idea only I'm not going to sit around in a pavilion and teach people all day. We need to become the strongest players remember?"
"Couldn't you just teach some NPC's the skills so they can tutor others in your stead?"
"That... could work. But it would be far inferior than learning from me though." Zaran said as he grew more and more interested at the idea of owning his own pavilion.
"The general users wouldn't be able to tell the difference anyway plus you could just request like a hundred gold or even more for a private lesson. Or you could ask ingredients you need or whatever really. There would be a massive amount of people who would want to learn from the one and only Zaran Karaz who makes S-class skills like it's no big deal. Moreover if you ever wish to set up a guild it'd be a good way to scout some strong guild members. Really you should choose a pavilion." Nuvahn said, convinced that getting a pavilion was the way to go.
"I'll think about it. Regardless, we should wait here and let Kirin and Cindarrah get used to the smell. It's most likely only going to get worse from hereon out."
"More stinky? Nuoooooooooo." Cindarrah wailed. "Let's go back! Let's go somewhere else! Pleaaaase!!!!" Cindarrah cried out in a heartbroken voice.
"Shush... it's okay Cindarrah. You'll get used to it." Zaran caressed the wailing Cindarrah and suddenly remembered the raven's reward. The stem of the Nimbial flower, a parasitic flower that only grew on the guardian tree of the forest. Aruan had told Zaran that it had a slight chance to give an animal the ability to communicate telepathically. He was planning to give this to Kirin once he came back to Virul but had forgotten about it once he met Nuvahn. Only now did he remember about it.
"Kirin come here." Zaran commanded as he took out the stem of the flower and skewered a sausage with it. "Please eat this."
Kirin sniffed the sausage carefully and pulled up her nose. She was unfamiliar with the scent of the stem and was hesitant to take a bite. Still she could not resist the temptation of meat and carefully bit a small bit off the sausage. After chewing twice, she stopped chewing as Kirin's face lit up in delight. The stem and sausage combination turned out to be far more delicious than she had expected. Instantly, she bit off a few more bites of the sausage and happily chewed away. A few seconds later the whole sausage had disappeared from Zaran's hand and Kirin was wagging her tail happily while looking at him.
A soft growling "More?" entered Zaran's mind and a smile surfaced on his face. "It worked! It worked!" Zaran said as he picked up Kirin and jumped around and tossed her up and caught her again over and over. "Play? Play?" Kirin asked telepathically. "Kirin I can hear you now!" Zaran said with a huge smile on his face.
Kirin cocked her head and looked at Zaran. "Master? Hear?"
Zaran nodded at Kirin and a split second later "Moar sausage!" entered his mind. Zaran lost it and almost forgot to catch Kirin as she came down again. He put Kirin on the ground again and took out a sausage from his storage ring. "Just promise me you won't keep saying 'more sausage' all the time now!" He said to which Kirin nodded in response.
Kirin ate the sausage and then looked at Nuvahn and asked him telepathically "Hear?" to which Nuvahn nodded. Kirin got excited even more and then asked Cindarrah the same thing who also nodded to confirm that she too could hear her. Kirin turned elated and telepathically told everyone. "Happy! Happy! Happpppyyyyy!!!!!"
Zaran smiled whilst looking at Kirin, being rather happy that she could somewhat communicate with the group right now, yet on the other hand he still had hoped that she would be able to voice herself in more than a few words. However there was not much he could do about this and he could only hope that her speech pattern improved with time.
Zaran patted Kirin for a few seconds before saying. "Now Kirin, I need you to calm down and pay attention. We are going to explore this place and we need Kirin to tell us if she sees anything. Could you do that for me?"
Kirin quickly replied with an "Ok!" and her behavior did a complete turnaround. Her carefree attitude instantly disappeared and made place for a serious attitude. Her aura instantly shot out in all directions, now even if she couldn't smell an enemy, if it entered her aura she would sense it immediately. Keeping her aura up cost her no effort at all so this was very convenient for Zaran and Nuvahn as they would not need to keep up their guard all the time.
A few minutes passed before Zaran finally decided to move out. Only now that everyone was used to the stench of the sewers did he dare to advance.
Being a hell hound, Kirin was completely unaffected by the stench and had already become bored of waiting. Thus as Zaran told her to move forward she darted off at high speed forcing Zaran and Nuvahn to run after her.
"HEY KIRIN SLOW DOWN!!!!" Zaran yelled as he ran after her. "KIRRRIIIIN NO MORE SAUSAGES FOR YOU IF YOU DONT STOP RIGHT NOW!"
Kirin immediately stopped as Zaran said that and came back with her tail between her legs and her head held low.
"Geez... no reason to be so eager Kirin..." Zaran said, slightly reprimanding Kirin.
"Hey Zaran... we've run a few hundred meters now but... we haven't seen a single rat, spider or fly..." Nuvahn remarked.
"Now that you mention it I was wondering the strange, moreover check out the walls and sidewalk." Zaran said as he pointed to the walls and sidewalk. Both of them were corroding, clear cracks showing on the cobblestone bricks.
"Have you ever seen anything like that? The corroding just randomly starts here and it's not at the other side of the waste river." Zaran asked.
"I actually have and I really hope it's not what I think it is." Nuvahn said, dread filling his voice.
"Nuvahn? You hope it's not what?" Zaran asked
"In that world they called it 'Kavahr'. In short they would be like zombies except a million times more deadly. Zombies seem like a joke compared to these things. Only magic is known to step them and only pure magic at that. So for example a spell that lowers temperature so that everything freezes will harm them while an icycle spell will break down before it hits them! They corrode everything on touch! Weapons, flesh, armour, everything that can decay or age will break upon even coming near them. The older they are the more corrosive their aura becomes and the bigger the range of it becomes. To be fair I don't think I've ever met a more disgusting enemy..."
Zaran was speechless at Nuvahn's explanation and prayed it wasn't as Nuvahn thought it was.
The group advanced with greater care now, being heavily on guard for whatever may come. Almost a full kilometer into the sewers they finally heard some low groaning and multiple shuffling noises. Shuffling from around the corner were two rotting corpses with filth and body parts of rats, bats and other various beasts fused into them. The most horrifying thing about them was that the parts belonging to other monsters and animals were actually wriggling and squiggling as if they were still alive. A visible brown aura surrounded them and everything within that aura was quickly aging, decaying and rotting away.
Upon noticing the group the two corpses looked at each other and made more groaning sounds and shuffled towards the group whilst making some loud groaning noise.
Zaran tried to inspect them but they were out of his level range so all he learned was that their name was 'Rotter'.
"Nuvahn I can't see their levels and stats! Can you inspect them?"
"Yes I will!" Nuvahn said as he quickly inspected them. "Level 30, Rotter... Only 1000 hp weak to magic but decays weapons and armour quickly when near the range of their aura, I can't see their skill set though. Moreover I can only use one skill to deal with them, how about you?"
"I have one spells I can use and I can somewhat keep them at bay albeit temporarily with that spell. I have another one but it depletes all my mana if I cast it. Cindarrah has 'web shot' but I am not entirely sure how effective it will be and Kirin will most likely be able to deal good damage with her 'Dark flame' spell. No more time to discuss though!" Zaran replied as he saw that the Rotters were only a good fifty meters away.
"Kirin only use 'Dark flame'! Cindarrah try to restrict them with 'Web shot'!" Zaran yelled as he charged forward. He currently only had 'Earth lance' at his disposal to combat these enemies and because it was still a beginner level spell it barely did any significant damage. Still the mana cost was low so he could keep casting the same skill over and over. If Kirin and Nuvahn did an adequate amount of damage Zaran foresaw no problems with these enemies.
When he was about five meters away from the rotters Zaran used 'Earth lance'. Earthen lances sprung up from the cobblestone ground and pierced the Rotters' legs. Zaran had deliberately cast them low so Kirin and Nuvahn would have an easy time hitting the Rotters' torso. From his left a green colored sword energy rushed forward and met one of the Rotters while a couple of fist-sized purple-blackish flame balls crashed into the other Rotter. Cindarrah shot two 'Web shots' one to each of the Rotters but the web decayed before it hit them at all.
"How much damage?" Zaran asked as he cast 'Earth lance' once more, guiding the lances towards the Rotters' heads, knocking them back and giving Nuvahn time to asses the damage dealt.
"About 200 health from each with just those two earth lances, a 'wind blade' and a 'dark flame'.
"Let's keep going then!" Zaran said as he aimed another 'Earth lance' towards the Rotters' legs. As the 'Earth lance' was rushing towards the Rotters, both let out a low groan and the 'Earth lance' rapidly crumbled apart, not even able to hit them.
"Not good!" Zaran roared as he immediately back-stepped and cast another 'Earth lance' to slow the rotters down. Yet again the Rotters let out a low groan and the 'Earth Lance' crumbled again, unable to touch them. "Damn!" Zaran yelled.
A 'Wind blade' and 'Dark flame' balls passed Zaran again and heavily hit the Rotters.
Zaran cast another 'Earth Lance' at the same time as the 'Wind blade' and 'Dark flame' hit the Rotters, who due to taking damage just prior to Zaran's spell were unable to use their aura to decay his spell.
"Nuvahn, Kirin you lead with your attacks! They can't decay mine if I cast it right after yours hit them!" Zaran roared as he created some distance between him and the Rotters.
Another wind blade and dark flame passed him and as they hit the Rotters, Zaran used his 'Earth lance' but it decayed instantly again as one of the Rotters had used his aura to decay his spears. Zaran frowned and had to back step again as they were continuously shuffling forward ever coming closer to their group.
"Back off quickly, at least fifteen meters! You go too Cindarrah!" Zaran yelled as a fiery aura started to pulsate around him. Cindarrah immediately jumped of Zaran's head and onto Kirin's back as they and Nuvahn quickly ran backwards.
Must concentrate the full power in a smaller radius to kill these! Zaran thought as he started to gather the aura in front of him in a conical shape. It took a massive amount of willpower and mental power for Zaran to force the aura in this shape and he still was not sure if it would act the way he wanted it too.
Meanwhile Kirin, Cindarrah and Nuvahn had already ran back fifteen meters and both readied their spells to safe Zaran if it were necessary.
Can't let it be too wide nor too small, not too high nor too low... need all the damage concentrated on these two. Zaran groaned as he was struggling to keep the aura in the conical shape. The Rotters shuffled ever closer to him and were almost upon him. Just a little more just a little closer!
Just a few seconds had passed since he had started to force the aura to take the shape he wanted and he was nearly completely exhausted both mentally and physically. For Zaran these few seconds seemed like millenia. Finally the Rotters' aura nearly touched him and he let the skill explode forward. The air was set ablaze in a conical shape in front of Zaran and an immense amount of heat was generated, so much so that Zaran felt as if he stood in front of the fiery pits of hell themselves! In a split second the fire flashed through a fifteen meter long area in a conical shape in front of him. If one had blinked one had missed the fire itself. That was the speed at which this fire was unleashed. On the places where the fire had passed, even the cobblestone walls and floors had been molten and heatwaves were clearly visible with the naked eye.
The Rotters had tried to let out a groan to use their aura to the utmost to negate the damage but the flash fire burned their vocal cords before they were even able to let out a noise. This flash fire was trice as deadly as the way Zaran had used it before and the heat alone was enough to kill the Rotters' yet before the heat could even affect them they had already been burned to a crisp by the fire. Instead of the Rotters only two brown pouches where left, indicating that the Rotters had perished and dropped loot.
Nuvahn quickly ran over and caught Zaran who was about to faint from the amount of power and effort he had just poured into that single move.
"Nuvah, I hate it when you are right." Zaran mumbled as he let himself be supported by Nuvahn.
Four waves of light spiraled down upon Zaran indicating that he had leveled four times from beating the Rotters.
A few minutes later Zaran had recovered and looked at his spells. Both had leveled up tremendously during the fight and had improved by a lot.
|Flash fire (intermediate)|
|Range||15 meter radius around the caster||Mana consumption||300|
|Damage||400-500||cast time||4 seconds|
|You cause a flash fire to surge forth from you, reducing everything along its path to ashes.
If you force the aura into a conical shape, the damage is increased by 50% but the mental drain will force you to faint.
The range and damage increase with every level while the cast time reduces with each level.
|Earth lance (beginner)|
|Piercing damage||75-75||Mana consumption||15|
|You create sharp earthen spikes in a small cone near your feet.
The damage increases with each consecutive level.
A smile surfaced on Zaran's face as he checked the damage on both skills. Both had tremendously improved, allowing him to do some actual damage to his next opponents. Although he still wasn't going to be the most useful one in the fight as Nuvahn and Kirin still dealt more damage, he'd at least do some damage if his 'earth spears' hit.
"Let me quickly recover the remainder of my mana before we continue." As soon as Zaran said that multiple shuffling sounds were heard...