|Ruby Salamander L 65|
Roland glanced at the inside of the strangely lit-up room. In it, he spotted a ruby variant of the volcanic salamander as well as some other monsters.
“How many enemies?”
Robert asked while getting ready for some monster slaying.
“There are six… I saw two of those Skolopendra crawlers around…”
Roland explained to his impromptu party. His detection device showed six monsters hiding in the open cavern. He took a peek outside to see the closest monster nearby. To his surprise, it was a rare variant of the volcanic salamander. The rest were creepy insect types that were even crawling on the ceiling.
“Sir Robert… can you be the vanguard?”
Roland asked while Robert nodded without even complaining. He feared that he would have a repeat of what happened during the bandit attack all those years ago. This wasn’t the first noble lady and her knight that he was teaming up with. Robert didn’t seem overprotective of Lady Lucille, it seemed that he had some trust in her magical abilities.
“I’ll be right behind you then… and Lady Lucille give us some ranged support if you can.”
“Leave it to me, Sir Wayland!”
“Stay safe Lady Lucille, if something happens just run!”
Robert turned to the ice mage, the woman just nodded while also replying.
“Don’t worry Sir Robert, I’ll be fine, Sir Wayland's tamed beast will protect me.”
Agni moved his snout up high, it was as if he was saying ‘Leave it up to me'. This Ruby Wolf was the weakest member of the party but he could at least stall some of the monsters. This could give Lucille precious time to finish an incantation and land a finishing blow.
The plan was to use ranged attacks, Robert was the only person who lacked those capabilities. He was tasked to keep the monsters from getting past him while Roland and Lucille pelted them with spells.
Lucille and Robert nodded at Roland’s question and they entered the strangely lit cavern. It was of moderate size with about a hundred meters in length with fifty in width. The ceiling was quite high, over ten meters.
The layout was also quite peculiar as there were many glowing gemstones everywhere. Even before entering Roland and Lucille could feel the mana concentration spike. The light was coming from these crystals that hang down from the ceiling like stalactites.
There were small holes in the walls with enough size for the centipede and slug-like monsters to crawl from. Along with them, there was also one pool of lava in the middle, probably through which the ruby salamander came through.
“Mana, source of all power heed my call…”
The battle started with Lucille beginning her incantation. She was quite speedy with her words, much faster than Roland ever was when he was still training his magecraft. Even with that, Roland only needed to raise his magical rod to produce a burst of cold energy.
This was a spell called icicle rain. It created many small sharp icicles that would fly in a burst of cold air in a wide area. These creatures would all lose some of their bodily functions when exposed to freezing temperatures. The best way to do this was with an area of effect spell.
The open cavern had a small lava pool in the middle which would make this process more difficult. It was also closed off from most sides and the area was limited, which gave this strategy some validity.
Roland kept spraying cold air and icicles in all directions while Robert guarded him. Lady Lucille managed to finish her incantation, the spell she used sprayed cold energy along with snow in all directions.
“Cone of cold!”
The monsters that were here were a bit slow to react as the party of adventurers was not aiming at them directly. The red Skolopendra crawlers started wiggling around as they felt the shift in temperature. By instinct, they started to back away from the source of this cold energy.
Two slug-like creatures that were hanging on some of the stalactites started compressing into themselves while falling down. The Ruby Salamander reacted as well but instead of attacking it started retreating away towards the nearby lava pool.
“No, you don’t!”
Roland quickly reacted by sending an ice arrow towards the fleeing monster. It could not escape them, it was far too valuable and needed to be stopped before it could flee.
The ice arrow connected with the creature’s leg, it went right through those red gems while freezing the entire leg in place. Roland’s high intelligence stat, paired with his high-grade rune weapons was not something that a creature of this level could hope to resist.
The Ruby Salamander gave out a maddened shout while turning its head towards the person that injured it. It opened its mouth wide, soon a wide range flaming attack was produced and headed right towards its attacker.
This was the moment that Robert was waiting for. With his shield forward he jumped between Roland and the salamander’s flame breath. The runic shield that was given to him produced a blue light.
The blue light began glowing brighter before expanding outwardly into a frozen block of ice. This block of ice took the form of the kite shield with which the flame breath collided with. The runic shield kept radiating cold which successfully doused the flames without letting any heat past.
Roland used this chance to take aim once more, this time blasting the Ruby salamander with more freezing arrows. The monster’s body was soon covered in icicles and it stopped moving altogether.
‘Knowing magic sure is handy…’’
He looked around the now frosted over cavern. The other insect monsters weren’t looking so great after he and Lucille lowered the temperature in this room. He could even see Robert shivering from the cold.
The rest of the battle was quite uneventful as they went around and finished the paralyzed monsters off.
“Think that was all of them… let me check.”
Before pulling out his detection device he took some time to look around. It didn’t seem that there were any more hidden enemies around now and that was soon confirmed with the help of his magical item.
Thanks to the pool of lava in the middle the ice began to quickly melt. Even with that, it would take some time, and thanks to this the party of three and a pup could cool down.
“What is this place?”
Lucille commented after stepping into the cavern. Robert was quick to come over in fear of any monsters popping up.
“The mana in here is strange… those crystals… are they?”
Both Roland and Lucille could feel that large quantities of mana radiating from some of the glowing gems in this cavern. They seemed to be crystallized forms of the mana fluid used to power magical items. There were quite a few of them in this cavern and would probably be worth a lot of gold.
Roland leaned down to grasp one of these crystals. They looked like blue gems but were much softer. When applying too much force they would break easily and even turn to liquid when used as fuel after a while. From what Roland knew, the harder the crystal the more mana could be stored in it.
‘I could probably stick one of these into a golem… wonder how long it would last…’
Golems just like any other magical item required a power source. This would be either something like Elokin’s Fluid or a magician using their own mana. Roland was trying to develop his own batteries that would use his old world knowledge but this would work just as well.
This wasn’t all there was to this cave, after some of the frost had melted he spotted some other strange-looking rocks. One of them was quite red and had some metallic luster to it.
“Could this be…”
He spoke out without noticing which brought the attention of his two noble companions. They saw him taking out his runesmithing hammer along with a chisel.
“Did you find something Sir. Wayland?”
Lucille asked but didn’t get much of an answer as Roland was busy hammering a spot in the ground. After a moment they saw him pulling out some kind of reddish rock.
“What is that Sir. Wayland?”
“Oh… excuse me…”
Roland was finally able to snap out of his trance. He was somewhat shocked that he managed to find something like this here.
“If I’m not mistaken, this is Red Mithril…”
Lucille, who was interested in magical items and also runes was aware of the qualities of this ore. Robert on the other hand looked at the shiny rock, he was aware of the regular silver variant of this ore but had not heard of the red one.
“Yes, it has the same qualities to usual Mithril but due to absorbing fire elemental mana for many generations it is also fully fire-resistant.”
Roland explained while looking at the rock. There was more of it here, if he managed to fashion his entire armor out of this metal he would probably be able to even dive in the lava pools. The metal fully blocked any heat from going past it, it was also lighter than deep steel.
What some craftsmen did was to graft thinner sheets of this metal over other heavier alloys. Even a thin layer of this metal would be more resistant to cutting than a thick deep steel one.
It was done this way as mithril was quite rare and a thin armor made from it would still bend a lot. Thus it needed to be placed over something that would keep its form in place. Due to this quite a few craftsmen used the brigandine design to go with this fantasy metal. Then there were some other metals it could be mixed with to get a good result.
“Wait isn’t that…”
A sound of a rock hitting the ground echoed through this cavern as Roland saw something in the distance. He quickly ran up to the wall with some more, there he saw a blue grayish ore that was next to one of the mana crystals. The two minerals were somewhat interacting with each other which brought it to his attention.
“This might be Etherium…”
“Etherium? The metal they use for making magic tower cores?”
Lucille was quick to follow after Roland, Robert did the same. While the two ‘magicians’ continued to talk about magical items he was busy keeping an eye out for monsters.
“The same… its magical absorbing properties are paramount… the runes on it will very rarely deteriorate…”
Even though this metal wasn’t all that resistant and soft it was still something Runesmiths craved. It could be mixed with all the various minerals to produce the best runic or enchanted gear. With an Etherium alloy mixture, the runic structures even up to tier 3 would almost never deteriorate.
Roland took out his hammer and chisel and started to hit the walls like a madman. His rush to get the metal was halted by a hand that belonged to Robert.
“You are making too much noise, what if the monsters hear us?”
He was snapped back to reality by his older brother. The sight of a precious metal that could help him create superior weapons and armor made him forget about the situation they were in. Even though this was a treasure trove filled with precious metals and magic crystals, they were useless to him if he couldn’t use them.
“Ahh…, I’m sorry…”
Roland placed the hammer and chisel back into his spatial bag before stepping away from the rocky wall. There were other various metals that he couldn’t identify just yet but they would need to wait. First, they needed to get out of here, if there was no way connecting to the rest of the dungeon then he would not be able to use these ores anyway.
“Right… we should see if we have really cleared this chamber. Let us stay close together, try not to touch any strange things, we are still in a dungeon, there could be traps. Agni, go check.”
Roland called Agni over that at this point had gained some detection skills. With them, he could at least point them to any regular traps and even magical ones as he did possess the mana sense skill.
The group started to slowly move around the cave once more, this time looking at the walls more thoroughly.
“I was sure that there was a passage somewhere…”
Roland remembered seeing a larger tunnel leading out of this section of the cavern when looking at his detection device. It was able to show a small minimap-like area in holographic form.
After coming in here he couldn’t see any paths leading out. There were some smaller holes in the walls of the ceiling but not large enough for them to crawl through.
Some of those bug-like monsters must have gotten in through those while the salamander swam in through the pool. No one of them could swim out through this lava to see where it came out, not even Agni that had the highest fire-resistance here.
After going around a few times they didn’t find anything out of the ordinary. There were no traps or any more monsters here. The cavern was still filled with magic crystals and rare metals that were waiting to be mined. This was something that he was very much interested in but first, he needed to survive.
Roland took out his orb and injected some of the mana into it. The holographic map showed up but it was flickering on and off as if there was something interfering with it.
During the flickering, he saw something that looked like a path but that spot was blocked by a wall.
“Did you find something, Sir Wayland?”
Lucille commented while Robert also chimed in.
“I don’t see anything here…”
Roland looked at this wall as he moved closer. He remembered that there were many paths that he could open thanks to his debugging skill thus he activated it.
He saw a familiar runic structure like in all the other secret rooms that he discovered. Thus he leaned up and injected some of his mana into this structure to make it move.
Robert jumped back with the shield raised as he heard the wall rumbling. Soon a small opening appeared just large enough for someone of Roland’s size to go through it. After removing his hand the opening closed up once more and he took a step back.
“This is a dungeon, there are similar hidden paths scattered around. Luckily I know the way of opening them…”
He didn’t really want to disclose that they were based on runes. If word got out other runesmiths might be commissioned to open these hidden treasure troves. This one for instance he would like to keep for himself. The metal ores would be a big help for his future creations.
“Oh? How did you do it? Are there runes involved?”
“Uh… I think we should do something about our food shortage…”
It seemed that the girl was fast on the uptake so he tried to shift the conversation in another direction. He turned around and started walking towards the dead monster.
Robert asked while looking at the partially frozen monster.
“Yes, its meat is edible, we can roast it at the lava pool.”
His party had already tried eating the volcanic salamander variant. This one would not taste much different, they just needed to remove the outer shell to get to the juicy meat inside.
“You expect the Lady to eat monster meat? Are you mad?”
Robert looked at the killed Ruby Salamander that was in the process of being sniffed by Agni. The Lady in question looked at the dead monster and backed away while holding her hand over her mouth. It seemed that neither of his two new companions were too keen on eating this dead salamander.
“Do you have any better ideas? My rations won’t last us more than a few days and we could be stuck here for weeks.”
Without waiting for a reply, Roland moved over to the partially frozen monster. He was not a specialist at cooking or dismembering monsters for parts. Bernir mostly took care of that part but he had seen him and others do it. It would be a bit troublesome but he knew how to prepare the meat.
“If Sir Wayland thinks so, maybe we should consider it…”
“But what if you get sick, what if that meat is poisonous?”
Robert replied while looking at Roland that was now busy cutting up the monster carcass. While listening to the conversation he turned to his older brother.
“Didn’t you learn about this at your knight school? Monster meat is edible, unless it's a poisonous type it’s mostly safe.”
It didn’t seem like these noble types were taught any real-life survival skills for these types of situations. The lady here was stuck with her nose deep in books while the knight was mostly interested in swinging his sword. It seemed that they only focused on the things that their classes were good at and weren’t interested in much beyond that.
“I’ll try it first if you are afraid… we need to take the meat with us, this will be a good place to take a break before we move. There is only one way out and it's blocked.”
There were two passages leading into this cavern. One through they came in and the other the one locked behind a runic lock. There were still the smaller openings through which the monsters could crawl in and the lava pool. He and Robert would need to keep watch while the Lady rested, she looked quite tired, her vitality being drained during the walk and fight...