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A note from Selkie

I'd like to spend a moment plugging The Calamitous Bob by the extremely talented Mecadimus, the author of A Journey of Black and Red.

It's everything you'd want in a story, especially if you've read this far in Beneath the Dragoneye Moons. I've gotten access to some advance chapters not on RR, and I can promise that it stays just as good - and the author's updating DAILY for a MONTH.

 

Link! : https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/44132/the-calamitous-bob

The Calamitous Bob

 

The ground had transitioned to hard rock ages ago. Centuries of Formorians marching over the ground, trampling any growth that might occur, had long since scoured the ground to a bare nothing.

The brownish-purple hill was visible, with two shattered remains of similar hills on one side, and a third destroyed hill on the other. A hill for each Queen. My bet was the Queens had been holed up inside, and when one died, the other three burst out of their lairs, and went on their rampage.

The wind shifted slightly, and the stench of mountains of flesh, rotting in the sun for weeks on end, hit us. Hunting pulled a disgusted face and leaned back, while I retched. That was just an ungodly terrible smell.

“Whole or broken first?” Hunting mused out loud, voice strained as he kept his throat clamped shut.

“Broken.” I said, not wanting to come face to face with a dead, rotting Queen, the source of the stench so soon. I wanted to work up to it. I needed to work up to it.

“Should do the whole one.” Hunting said, rubbing his hand over his stubbly chin, face twisted in an unhappy look. Clearly the prospect of going into the whole lair didn’t amuse him either. “See what a normal lair looks like, before we see one that’s been ruined.”

“You’re the boss.” I went for a neutral tone, but didn’t quite manage to keep the disgust out of my voice. Not at him, not at the situation, but at the stench.

We approached the hill, seeing a half-dozen large tunnel entrances in front of the hill.

Rather, I was strongly suspecting that they were tunnel exits, designed for legions of newly-hatched Formorian Soldiers to exit, continuing their endless march towards humanity. Some were probably entrance holes, designed to permit Formorians carrying food back into the hive.

I voiced my thoughts.

“Some are probably entrances, some are probably exits. Is it worth figuring out which one is which?” I asked Hunting.

He shrugged.

“Not right now. Let’s just pick one and see what’s there.” He said. “Once we finish one, if it’s not obvious, we’ll take a look and see if we can find the other.”

Plan sounded as good as any. We picked a random tunnel entrance, one that vaguely looked like it led to the intact mound, and headed in.

The tunnels were deceptively large, and we entered into a tunnel that sloped downwards, large enough that a Royal Guard could’ve moved through it – although with barely any clearance. Which was still an absurdly large size.

“Be on your guard. The entire fight, we never saw a Spitter.” Hunting reminded me. I nodded. For all the talk of the worm-like acid-spraying creatures, I hadn’t seen a single one. Part of that might’ve been because of Sealing’s work to prevent them from attacking us from below. But it was entirely possible that they were just too slow outside of the lairs to come along on the attack, and had been left behind.

I was just starting to wonder what to do about lighting – I was probably going to use my skills – when Hunting moved.

He lunged towards a wall, jabbing it quickly with his fist. It was so fast I couldn’t follow his movements, although I did notice the telltale whisps of darkness behind his movement.

With a yank, he pulled a long worm out of the wall, and threw it to the ground with disgust.

“Spitters.”

I looked down at the Spitter. There was no head left for me to examine, just a clean cut that started halfway down the body. There was a long, slimy-looking grey body, leaking orangish blood from where Hunting had neatly severed it.

Not terribly interesting.

“I didn’t detect that at all.” I said after a moment of examining the Spitter.

“Not in your skillset, is it?” Hunting asked.

I shook my head.

“Illusions and mirages I can handle, no problem. Straight stealth, I’ve got nothing. Well, apart from lighting up the whole area. Won’t spot them swimming through rocks or whatever these things do though.”

That settled the lighting question for me. I made myself [Shine], as strong as I could reasonably make it without draining my mana horribly, and felt somewhat pleased that Hunting needed to at least squint to look at me directly. The tunnel was lit up, brighter than the outside was, and we continued on.

Hunting would dart from place to place, jabbing the walls and killing Spitters. Now and then he’d kneel down for a punch, or jump up to superhuman heights and hit the ceiling.

Fortunately, he stopped pulling the Spitters out of the walls. No need to step over bodies. It might’ve clogged the tunnels they were moving through, or something. Heck, for all I knew they could swim through rock like it was water. I knew nothing about these monsters, and my knowledge of what was and wasn’t possible with magic was constantly challenged. At this point, I should assume everything was possible.

Although I hadn’t seen or heard of any time travelers, and in theory those should be super obvious. Like, one would’ve come to visit by now? Right? That only ruled out backwards time travel though, said nothing about forwards.

Thinking about it though – we were always time traveling. Forwards. Usually at one second per second. The thought made me crack an amused grin, although I didn’t laugh. Wasn’t the time or the place, and Hunting would think I’d lost my marbles.

We kept traveling like this, going deep and deeper into the endless tunnels. Side-branches started to show up, then more and more, creating a dizzying labyrinth.

After the third tunnel, Hunting grabbed his spear, attached to his backpack as was Legion standard, and walked with the butt of the spear dragging on the ground. His skills were on full display as the end of the spear cut through the ground like putty, leaving a strong, obvious line behind us, the path to get back out. A ball of yarn for the labyrinth.

I could only hope there were no minotaurs.

We could legitimately get lost forever down here without the marker. Fortunately, it wasn’t like something marked on a wall or anything. It was almost impossible to miss the deep furrow in the hard stone that Hunting was making.

It was funny to see it suddenly wildly zig-zag all over the place as Hunting would dash to a wall to kill another Spitter. A violent history, written as a squiggly line.

I was honestly not doing much, besides being a bright, portable light source. Hunting seemed to know exactly what he was doing, and quite honestly didn’t seem to need me.

Then again, he was totally in his element. Flipping it on its head, it’d be like me in a triage tent. Sure, Hunting could act as one of the guards keeping things going smoothly, but it wasn’t exactly in his wheelhouse. He’d feel just as useless there as I felt useless here.

That’s what I told myself, to not feel as bad.

Hunting kept his head on a swivel, and at one point suddenly stopped, and took three steps backways, head snapping to the right.

“Dawn. Look.” He pointed down one of the side paths, which immediately opened up into a massive space.

I looked at it, I looked at the main path we were on. Seemed close enough.

“Yeah, we should totally take a look.” I said, heading that way.

We got to the room, and “big” didn’t start to cover it.

It obviously wasn’t one of the Queen’s resting places. It was like a massive cylinder, going up higher than my light could easily reach, and dropping deeper than we could see. The air was warm and moist inside the shaft.

On every wall grew huge mushrooms, covering every surface. The only surfaces that weren’t touched were dozens – hundreds – of other tunnel entrances that also opened up into the room.

Hunting grunted.

“Well, guess this is how they were getting enough food. Will probably want to burn it on the way out.”

I looked around. Some of the mushrooms looked hale and hearty, but others had telltale signs of rot, black edges to their earthy brown tones. I had to wonder if Arthur’s poison had reached out to the extent where it had even poisoned their food supplies, creating a lethal cycle where his poison just stayed and accumulated, until it overwhelmed the Formorians.

We backed out, and kept going.

I honestly wanted no part of burning food sources. I could do a lot in the name of self-defense. There were large stretches of activities not covered by “Do no harm.”

But burning the food source of the Formorians, when I knew a young, intelligent, baby Formorian Queen could eat it?

For whatever reason, that was beyond the pale for me. I’m not sure if it’d trigger [Oath] or not – my bet was no – I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t feel the urge to stay, or to try and clean the poison out, but burning food was a step too far for me.

Hunting turned and started walking back, while I took a moment more to admire the food cylinder. It was quite the structure, a monument to insectoid genius. It was a heck of a lot easier to admire when I knew that most of them were dead, and weren’t busy trying to kill me.

I headed back to the main tunnel where Hunting was waiting for me, when a spray of green acid came out of the ceiling, hitting me full in the face.

“Argh! Fuck!” I screamed out, clawing at my face. While my trusty helmet had taken the brunt of the attack, some had slipped past and got covering my left eye, eating my face. The smell of dissolving flesh hit me, a sharp contrast to the ever-present rotting smell of the dead Queen, while I heard my flesh sizzle.

Hunting blurred as he leapt over me, stabbing the hole the Spitter had come out of.

I ripped my helmet off, cursing Spitters, cursing [Bullet Time], cursing the whole damn mission.

One eye was blind, and with my other hand I furiously tried to wipe the acid off my face.

I cursed as most came off, but some stayed behind, adhering to my face and eyes.

“Gods dammit all!” I swore, clawing at the stuff, peeling it away in strips.

Hunting was looking at me with a disgusted look on his face as I finished getting the last of it off. I tried to blink to clear my eye, except after my eyelids closed it wouldn’t open up again.

“Why is this sticky!?” I screamed. “Fucking eye!” I swore.

I had nothing for dealing with problems “outside” of my body, like dirt. Or in this case, stuff that was sticking to me that wasn’t actually causing “problems”, as the System seemed to define it. Good to know that gunk traps were a potential problem before I walked into a gunk pit or something.

I dunno, I wasn’t thinking too clearly, blasted gunk in my eyes.

“Here, hold still.” Hunting said. I held perfectly still, as his hand approached my face.

“You can heal just about anything, right? Including eyes?” He asked me.

“Yeah, but-“ I started to say, only to feel fresh air against bone for a brief moment, before my eye regrew itself.

“Blah.” I said, getting over the brief moment of not having an eye, then my vision popping into 3-D again as it regenerated.

Hunting was still looking at me with a strange look.

“What?” I asked him, all sorts of pissed off over the completely harmless attack having slowed me down so much.

“Never saw anyone peel their own face off before, that’s all.” Hunting said, in that carefully neutral tone I recognized as “oh that was so gross but I don’t want to show it.”

“Yeah, yeah, that’s me. Can heal from most hits, but I generally have to eat them first.” I grumbled. “Also, that attack just seemed irritating. I thought these were a big deal?” I asked Hunting.

He kept giving me a look, and knelt down to the floor, where some of the acid was still puddled. Some of it was green, the rest a nasty yellow. He delicately put his finger into the green portion, and I was met with the sound and smell of sizzling flesh again, as the tip of Hunting’s finger vanished.

He promptly touched me, healing himself back up.

“Dangerous stuff, but my guess is you just heal too fast for it to do anything.” He said.

“Except for having it turn to annoying goop sticking to my face.” I grumbled, running a hand over my hair. Still had it all, although there was a sticky matted section.

Albina was going to get so much of my money to fix all this.

I looked at my helmet, pitted with marks from where it took the brunt of the attack. I gave a melodramatic sigh.

“I have a skill that warns me about dangerous attacks, but I guess it didn’t activate because the attack isn’t dangerous to me in the slightest. Just incredibly annoying.” I griped.

Hunting pursed his lips at me.

“No offense, but why don’t we head back, and make a camp. You can hang out there, while I go exploring. It’ll be faster without you, and at this point I’m doubting there’s anything here that can threaten me.”

“Can’t hurt me either.” I pointed out, kinda wanting to go back but being stubborn about it. I didn’t want to feel like I was being sent home while Hunting went out to play, but it kinda felt like that.

Hunting pointed to my helmet.

“Yeah, but it can wreck your gear.”

Excellent. A beautiful excuse for me to get out of here.

“Welp, the [Quartermaster] is probably throwing all manner of fits over the entire expedition already. Let’s not make it any harder on him than it needs to be.” I said with far too much cheer, already walking back along the incredibly-obvious furrow that Hunting had left behind.

“No, we wouldn’t want that.” Hunting said, letting humor color his voice. “Come on, let’s go.”

I happily followed Hunting back out of the lair.

I could see why Night had such a hard time assaulting the place. A Royal Guard could completely block the tunnel, and as I had first-hand experience with, they were much tougher from the front than one of the sides.

Add in Spitters shooting from any direction, and Soldiers pouring around from all directions, and I could see an assault being problematic, to say the least.

Then, with a bit of intelligence, a second Royal Guard coming in from behind? Yikes. An attacker better hope they noticed before all the side tunnels were cut off.

“I’ve been thinking.” Hunting said as we jogged out at a good clip. “I’ve got access to my third class, like Destruction and Night. I’ve had success so far with picking two completely different classes, and making them complement each other. I saw it with Brawling, and seeing it again in action now, well…”

Hunting shrugged as he trailed off. I seized on the chance though. Anything to distract him. Get him thinking about the future. I dunno, I wasn’t a damn therapist, I was entirely the wrong person to bring this to.

“I assume you want all the healing tricks, not just some of them?” I asked him. Hunting nodded.

“Right then. The System likes to enhance classes off of your other classes, and more so off of your elements. I still have no idea what your fighting element is, but if you want everything in one class you’ll want Celestial. With that being said, you’ll want a Light starting class, to bounce off of your Void mage class, and get a stronger Celestial evolution. At the same time, you can’t just snap your fingers and become a healer, unlike a mage. It requires significant study and education. Let’s arrange some classes together once we’re back in the capital.”

“Aren’t you going to be stuck out here?” Hunting asked me.

“Eh, maybe. Worse-case, read my Medical Manuscripts. They’ve got most of what I know in them. You just won’t be able to ask me clarifying questions, and they’re not exactly geared for beginners to just pick up and read.”

“Also, don’t other advanced elements have everything?” Hunting asked me.

“Yeeeeesss…” I dragged it out. “But I know Celestial inside and out. I can recommend and suggest stuff off of it. Fair warning. Light healer is incredibly difficult to level at lower levels, and it’s not the most useful of elements to start with. I do think it’ll pay off long term though, which is why I suggested it.”

“What are my other options for all-in-one healing elements?” He asked me.

I shrugged.

“In theory, I think Radiance can do it all, but I haven’t seen it and I don’t see you getting a strong evolution into Radiance. Basically, you want a Light-aligned class with a destruction-aligned class, which is why Celestial is so darn good.”

I paused a moment, thinking.

“It’s more work, both learning and maintaining, and I know almost nothing about it, but you could also try the alchemy and potion-making route.”

Hunting grunted assent.

“What other classes have you been thinking about?” I asked him, curious.

“Speedster. Make myself faster than even Night. Flier. High mobility, drop things from on high. Ranger. I don’t have the ability to hit things well at a distance. Crafting. Make my own gear, possibly take an Inscription class. Like that potion making class you suggested. Hell, just settle down and take a hobby class. I’ve got some mosaic designs floating around in my head that I’d just love to put down in clay. The added stats alone would improve my combat capabilities, and I already have enough kill-things skills.” Hunting enthusiastically told me about all his cool plans.

Boys and their toys. Never got old.

I suppose I got that way about certain topics.

“Fighting style is pretty set to boot.” I added in. “I’d love to see what kind of mosaics you could make!”

I clearly touched a button, as Hunting went onto a long outpouring of his ideas. Behind those pitch-black eyes was, to my great surprise, the soul of an artist. Our relationship had always been friendly, but professional, and even when we hung out we usually talked about Katastrofi, his great love and passion.

Hunting kept talking as he dug out another campsite with his Void skills, making it larger than usual. I kept hearing about clay types, and how they impacted the final product. My eyes were glazing over like Virinium’s clay, which apparently was the best, as the sun set.

Fortunately, I was saved from Hunting’s tirade as the light dipped over the horizon.

“Crap! I gotta get back to scouting. Thanks for listening! Leave a message if you need to leave.” Hunting said, starting to head back.

“What if I get attacked?” I asked.

“Then blow something up, or make it obvious there was a fight or something.” Hunting replied back, starting to vanish back into the tunnel.

I shrugged. What else was I going to do?

Being strongly support-aligned was a bore at times. It was rare, but it happened. Like now.

I settled down into the larger, cozier version of the camp Hunting usually dug out of the hard rocks. Void was super duper convenient for that.

With everyone else grabbing and thinking about third classes, and my hopeful-immortality coming, I should start thinking about a third class. Plan it out ahead of time, instead of stabbing blindly like I’d done up until now.

The thought of classing up briefly flitted across my mind, before I dismissed it. I wasn’t safe, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Upgrading and re-doing my [Persistent Casting] with [Dance with the Heavens] was a much better use of my time though.

I settled in, and started to focus.

 

[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 19]

[Mana: 153790/153790]

[Mana Regen: 133517 (+98425.6)]

Stats

[Free Stats: 51]

[Strength: 293]

[Dexterity: 347]

[Vitality: 2176]

[Speed: 2176]

[Mana: 15379]

[Mana Regeneration: 15379 (+9842.56)]

[Magic Power: 7897 (+106609.5)]

[Magic Control: 7897 (+106609.5)]

[Class 1: [The Dawn Sentinel - Celestial: Lv 305]]

[Celestial Affinity: 305]

[Cosmic Presence: 231]

[Solar Infusion: 1]

[Center of the Universe: 285]

[Dance of the Heavens: 305]

[Wheel of Sun and Moon: 271]

[Mantle of the Stars: 256]

[Sunrise: 13]

[Class 2: [Ranger-Mage - Radiance: Lv 256]]

[Radiance Affinity: 256]

[Radiance Resistance: 256]

[Radiance Conjuration: 256]

[Shine: 111]

[Sun-Kissed: 256]

[Blaze: 256]

[Talaria: 256]

[Nova: 256]

[Class 3: Locked]

General Skills

[Identify: 151]

[Pristine Memories: 200]

[Pretty: 152]

[Bullet Time: 268]

[Oath of Elaine to Lyra: 270]

[Sentinel's Superiority: 305]

[Persistent Casting: 189]

[Learning: 280]

 

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Selkie

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