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Author's note: exploration and two new enemies! Also the return of something we picked up a long time ago and that we are now able to use. 
As always, enjoy!
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"Let us check out the tunnels one by one and see where we end up at." Zaran said. "We've got to figure out where all the small rats come from and stop them from swarming the sewers."

Florance and Nuvahn nodded and followed after Zaran. As for Kirin and Cindarrah they were content with just following Zaran, but they both like eating the giant rats so the longer they could stay the happier they would be about it.

Taking the first tunnel, the party soon ran into more giant rats, whom they dispatched off and ended up at a dead end. Turning back, the party continued searching through the next few tunnels, which likewise ended in a dead end.

While the search had been fruitless, the exp and drops had been rather good, as in a short amount of time they had already made 50 gold and although the experience requirement from level 50 to level 51 drastically increased, Zaran was already halfway to level 51. With the experience percentage going from 10% per giant rat to 1% per giant rat, one could see just how massive the difference was.

The next tunnel the party searched through seemed as if it were going to end in a dead end again, however upon arriving at the dead end the party noticed that there was a cave-in at the place where the dead end would be. The cave-in had blocked the dead end from sight but had also opened up a passage into a cave.

As the party was inspecting the cave-in a squeak was heard and a giant rat covered in moisture ran out of the cave-in. After a web-shot from Cindarrah to constrict the rat's movements, the rest of the party burst down the rat.

The cave entrance was pitch black and the party could barely see a thing.

"So dark. We should create a torch." Zaran said as he took out some wood and linen to create a very basic torch.

"No need, just leave it to me!" Florance said as she weaved her hands and cast the floating sphere spell. It created a small round sphere of elemental essence of the user's choice that floated next to the user. Due to the essence's nature it illuminated the nearby area. While the area of effect of this illumination wasn't all too high and thus only a small part was illuminated to a bright degree, the remainder of the cave was still illuminated to a lesser degree which greatly increased the party's field of view. Of course it wasn't merely a spell to illuminate an area. For example Florance filled it with fire essence and whenever she cast a spell she could draw from the sphere instead of channeling the mana within herself. This drastically reduced the cast time for spells and this was also the real use for the skill.

There was a spell with the sole use of illuminating a large area, but it was a light magic spell and that was currently a type of magic Florance could not use, but the floating sphere spell was a sufficient alternative although the drain on Florance's mana was pretty significant as it took half her mana to cast it.

With the light from the floating sphere spell, the party could finally see what the cave looked like. The cave had been made by some sort of creature as the cave was almost perfectly carved out and formed large, straight corridors. The walls, floor and ceiling which were glistening because of moisture formed a spherical shape and the width was consistent for as far as they could see. Distant pitter-patter sounds could be heard as well as the terrified squeaks and death screams of rats... and chomping sounds continuously rang throughout the cave.

Currently the party was standing in a curved area. The tunnel had advanced straight until straight up to the point that it would intersect with the depth of the sewers but had taken a swift turn upon reaching the dead end the party had entered from. From this one could see that whatever had created this cave did not want anything to do with the sewers.

"Which way should we take? Should we go straight on or turn right?" Florance asked.

"Let us just follow the path to the right." Zaran calmly replied. "It's the way whatever this tunnel created took and if we caught up we would be at its tail... If we turn back we might run into it's head, so I feel the right is the best option."

Thinking about what Zaran had said for a moment, Nuvahn slowly replied. "I agree, if we go back the chance to face whatever made this tunnel head on should be higher than when we just take the straight path.."

With the path decided the party slowly advanced and with every step the moisture on the tunnel's floor would stick to their feet, before finally giving away when they raised their feet high enough. This tremendously slowed down the party and was exhausting to boot. Only Kirin walked trouble free, having coated her paws with dark flames to burn away the moisture wherever she went. The moment she lifted her paws the moisture would instantly fill in the previously cleared spot. After merely half an hour the party was exhausted and they had to temporarily rest to recover their stamina. All this time they had not seen a single enemy, yet the chewing and terrified squeaking sounds became clearer and clearer.

Sufficiently recovered from their exhaustion, the party resumed their exploration of the cave. Another half hour passed and the party had to rest to recover from their exhaustion yet again while still not having met any resistance or having seen any creature of any kind. Even though they had already walked for an hour in the cave, the distance they had covered was merely two kilometers.

Another hour passed, with the group taking three more breaks to recover from exhaustion. Due to exhausting their selves over and over again the distance they could walk before they had to rest again turned increasingly smaller. Ten minutes later the party came upon a large round cavern with a giant white worm. The giant worm was 5 meters high, 50 meters long and was surprisingly agile for its size. It was currently fighting a pack of small and giant rats that were protecting a light-grey coloured rat that was twice the size of the giant rats. The worm slid across the moisture on the cavern floor and chomped down on rat upon rat with its large spherical mouth that was filled with dagger-sized teeth. Most of the small rats were instantly killed with a single bite and most of the giant rats would die within three bites.

Even though the worm had an easy time killing the rats, it was covered in bite wounds from both the small rats and large rats. Wave after wave of rat had poured upon the worm and there had just been too many rats for the worm to deal with. Regardless the worm was far from dying and with every rat devoured, the various injuries on his body bled a little less.

At the back of the cavern was another slight smaller tunnel where terrified rats were continuously pouring in from. Zaran inspected the giant worm, the small rats, the giant rats and the enormous rat's levels, while Florance dimmed her floating sphere as much as possible so it wouldn't alert the rats or the worm of their presence.

Rock devourer lvl 70
HP: 100.000
Damage: 1000
Defense: 5000
Description:
Millennia ago worms living in mountainous area evolved and gained the ability to carve tunnels through all types of rocks and ores, over the years the worms grew continuously larger until they became the humongous species they are this day.


Common rat lvl 20
HP: 300
Damage: 75
Defense: 0
Description:
A common type of rat which is commonly found all over the planet. This type of rat has the ability to evolve into a giant rat but the requirements for this evolution to take place are unclear.


Giant rat lvl 50:
HP: 10.000
Damage: 500
Defense: 1000
Description:
A species of rat that evolved from the commonly found rat. Stronger, more resilient and more intelligent than their smaller peers these rats are able to cause a calamity to befall upon any city that is unfortunate enough to have them make it their home.


Rat queen lvl 60:
HP: 50.000
Damage: 1500
Defense: 3200
Description:
The queen of giant rats. Every one out of 10.000 female giant rats has a chance to become a rat queen. Rat queens give birth to new giant rats at an extremely rapid pace, far quicker than an average female rat is capable of doing.


"The huge rat is a level 60 rat queen and the huge worm is a level 70 Rock devourer." Zaran whispered with a wry smile.

The rest of the party cringed at the naming sense for the worm.

"So what's our plan?" Nuvahn asked quietly.

"We wait for a few minutes and see how the fight develops. While we are stronger than our levels, I am not sure we can just join in on this fight without some losses." Zaran whispered.

"So what is our plan going to be when we do fight?" Florance whispered quietly. "Even if we wait we should start figuring out our course of action once we go into combat."

Zaran started. "Right, you and Cindarrah should stand back and cast supportive spells while me and Nuvahn will be the front line while Kirin will both keep guard for the two of you and clear up anything that passes by the two of us. Florance, you can cast your offensive spells when necessary, but do try to overlap supportive spells with Cindarrah, as long as the enemies movement is restricted, me and Nuvahn should be able to deal with any of the enemies rather easily with exception of the worm and rat queen. I hope that before the fight ends, either of those two fall and hopefully it is the rat queen that falls as we will not have to face an onslaught of rats that way. If the worm falls... we will have to fight for a long time to kill every rat. There is another tactic we could try but it's a far riskier option and I do not know if it will even work out. If the battle develops the wrong way I will tell you the other plan. However we will only carry it out if all of us agree to it!"

Minutes passed by as the party passively waited for the battle to develop. More rats continuously swarmed out of the small tunnel and swarmed upon the worm and its hp continued to drop little by little. The worm's hp fell to 50% hp and it cried out angrily as it headed straight towards the rat queen, before the rock devourer could reach the rat queen, she disappeared from the rock devourer's vision and appeared at the other side of it. The rock devourer let out an cry and it's body turned red. Its face disappeared and a tail formed where it originally was, at the same time its tail turned into its head! With a swift movement it bit down upon the rat queen and threw her into the cavern wall.

The rat queen disappeared from vision again and appeared behind the nearest giant rats. Blood continuously dripped from her wounds. It let out a mournful cry and the nearby rats all grew red-eyed as they all swarmed upon the worm even faster than before. Soon the worm was completely covered in rats and its hp dropped faster and faster. The worm used it stoneskin skill to stop the rats from gnawing upon it. Although the small rats couldn't bite through it, the giant rats could still bite through the stone skin, albeit with a lot of effort. With the amount of rats that were currently on top of the rock devourer, the rate at which its hp dropped didn't lower all too much. The rock devourer's hp swiftly dropped to 30% and its stoneskin ability exploded from its body. Every rat that was currently on top of the rock devourer instantly died from the rock shards that flew forth from its body. The rock devourer furiously chomped down on the nearby worms to regain its lost health. Even though it had killed a large amount of rats just now it was not a skill that the rock devourer could use continuously as it considerably drained its already low stamina. With giant and small rats continuously streaming in from the tunnel, it was not hard to imagine how the battle would develop from here on out.

Seeing the battle develop this way Zaran muttered curses under his breath and whispered "Fuck! All right the second plan I had was as follows: you four distract the rats while I go over to the worm and use my beast taming skills to get it cooperate with us. I am not sure it will work however and worst case scenario we have to both fight the worm and the rats. Best case scenario we get the rock devourer on our side... at least for the time being."

"That IS a risky plan. How likely do you think it is to work?" Nuvahn whispered with a wry smile. 

"I have no clue. It is worth a shot though. If not we can try our luck fighting the onslaught of rats."

"Let us just go with it. Worst comes worst we respawn." Florance whispered with her lovely voice. 

"It is decided then. Cindarrah and Florance cast supportive spells, Kirin and Nuvahn bring a calamity upon the rats!" Zaran said as he switched out Gigenkai for the Hellweaver lance. He wanted to see just how powerful this spear was!

The party sprang into action and Cindarrah used Hellweaver's land to ensnare the rats while Florance use Lightning field to stun them. Seeing the stunned rats, the rock devourer quickly chomped down on them.

Nuvahn and Kirin quickly started dealing with the nearby rats, taking out small ones by the dozen! Zaran on the other hand quietly made his way to the rock devourer with the Hellweaver lance in his hand...
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NianKaraz

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