Beneath the Dragoneye Moons

by

Selkie

Chapter 198 - Journey to the center of Pallos III

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A note from Selkie

Content warning:

Terrible puns

 

There was a sharp twang, and a blur in front of me.

A sickening thwack occurred, and a weak cough from Glifir, a spray of blood.

“Glifir!” I shouted as I ran forward, Fik looking on stupidly while a connection formed between Ned and Glifir. Drin ran forward with me, and we arrived at the same time.

The light in Glifir’s eye was fading as he coughed weakly, hands moving slowly up, then slumping back down. There was a broad axe, almost as long as Glifir was wide, embedded horizontally in his chest, nearly bisecting him.

I grabbed him, flowing [Dance with the Heavens] through him, imagining blood and bone, muscle and sinew restitching together, and started to pull Glifir off the axe trap. Drin arrived a moment later, and together, with a strong yank and accompanying sickening squelch, we managed to get the axe out of his chest, my healing restoring his ruined chest as the axe left.

I suppose Ned’s healing was also helping, but between an unknown efficiency factor in what I was doing, and an unknown ratio of human to dwarf healing, I had no idea how much was me, and how much was Ned. It didn’t really matter in the end.

With an open mouth and glassy eyes, Glifir patted his chest.

“I’m… alive. I’m alive. I’m alive!” Glifir shouted, without a care in the world for who or what could hear us.

“Yeah, you’re alive!” I cheerfully told him. Wasn’t the first time I’d handled someone being slightly off after I’d yanked them away from certain death.

[*Ding!* [Oath of Elaine to Lyra] leveled up! 300 -> 301]

Being a healer was awesome!

“This had to be made by someone with skills.” Fik said, and I half-jumped, having completely missed him moving up closer. “See, look, the whole thing’s made out of stone. There’s no way to get tension in it, not without there being a skill involved.”

I looked at the trap, but “How to build traps while stuck a mile underground” hadn’t been one of my Ranger Academy courses. I was inclined to believe Fik, it wasn’t like he constantly made bold claims out of nowhere.

“Whatever took Toke is smart.” Drin said, to Ned’s eyeroll.

“A goblin could’ve made that trap. It’s not exactly elaborate.” Ned crossed his arms as he told us.

“Footprints are too big to be goblins though.” Glifir pointed out.

[*Ding!* [Learning] leveled up! 340 -> 341]

I had no idea where these levels were coming from, but I wasn’t going to complain or look too hard at it. Maybe I was on the edge for some of them?

“All this talk is great, but we should keep going. Glifir, how are you on spotting traps?” I asked him.

An awkward look passed his face.

“Umm. I can make traps no problem. I’ve never needed to spot them though. I should be fine though.” Glifir said, awkwardly scratching his head.

I gave it a moment’s thought, then shook my head.

“I should be in the lead. As long as I have mana, I’m hard to kill. When we get to an intersection or something, you tell us where to go. That should give you a bit more time to scout the side passages, and make sure nothing’s sneaking up on us.”

“But I can’t let you take the lead!” Glifir protested.

Ooooh, that got my hackles right up.

“Can’t? Can’t!?” I yelled at him, channeling some of my “Drill Sergeant Sentinel with Ranger Trainees” experience. “Which way?” I demanded, fire and venom in my voice.

‘Can’t let me’ my ass.

Glifir exchanged looks with Drin, but said nothing. I narrowed my eyes, and stomped off in the direction we had been going, leaving the rest of the dwarves to catch up.

I spent a moment reflecting on the axe that had nearly chopped Glifir in half. My strength wasn’t exactly my strong suit, and I needed to be able to deal with weapons embedded that deeply in other people.

Or did I?

My train of thought was interrupted as I reached the next branching intersection, where I stopped and waited. I wasn’t entirely enraged to the point where I’d do terminally stupid stuff, like randomly pick paths when I couldn’t follow the trail.

“Which way?” I demanded of Glifir when he caught up with the rest of the dwarves.

He quickly looked down both paths, checking arcane stuff that only a [Tracker] could see, before pointing down one.

“This one but-”

I ignored him as I swept by, making sure there was enough of a lead between me and the remaining dwarves, just in case there was a problem.

I went back to reflecting on my axe problem. On one hand, I had basically nothing for massive weapons embedded into people. On the other, that was a fairly niche problem, given that people with oversized weapons replacing their respiratory tract tended to have short lifespans.

Two hallways later, my musings were interrupted by coarse webs firing out of the walls, fired too fast for me to react without [Bullet Time].

Which never activated, given that the trap was entirely non-lethal. It just wrapped me up in sticky webbing, and hoisted me feet-first into the air.

The rest of the dwarves turned the corner, and Glifir rushed over, concerned, while Fik and Drin lost their shit laughing at me. Ned just smirked.

I grinned back, as the blood rushed to my head.

“Mind giving me a hand here? I’m a little tied up.” I said, punny inspiration striking.

Fik groaned and mocked an arrow striking him, while Drin teased back.

“I should add spider webbing to my arsenal, for when zapping uppity healers doesn’t work.”

I stuck my tongue out at him as Glifir cut me down, carefully making sure I didn’t hit my head on the way down. The spider webbing idea of Drin’s was a good one though.

I probably could’ve burned the spiderweb away, but why spend the mana? I was using lots in rapid succession, and I was already ravenous. No need to blow mana needlessly, not when I had a team to do the same for me.

I stood back up, picking off the strands of spider silk and trying to shake them off my hands as each one was a persistent bastard, who refused to leave.

Glifir and Fik gave me a hand.

“You know.” I said conversationally. “This probably means we can add spiders to the list of creatures down here.”

Fik looked at the strand he had in his hands, and furiously wiped them on the side of the shaft.

He didn’t help too much with the rest of the clean up.

The next blasted hallway had a sharp rock on a stick swing at me like a club. [Bullet Time] activated, and I threw up [Mantle] as I danced backwards. [Mantle] managed to hold the trap for a second before breaking - but that was more than enough time. I was long gone, and grinned as the trap vibrated in an impotent manner.

I couldn’t resist sticking my tongue out at it before the rest of the dwarves caught up and managed to see it. I had this trap thing down!

I hadn’t seen enough traps to fully flesh out the theory, but there was a chance that they were hunting traps. The axe trap had been kinda overkill, but other two traps seemed to be sized-up versions of game and hunting traps I had some basic knowledge of. Food wasn’t exactly dropping from the sky here, and whoever was down here needed to eat.

The halls continued to rumble, with all of us being pressed into the ground twice, and launched into the ceiling once. “Aggravating” didn’t start to cover it, although I was glad it was Hebai’s Gravity attacks that were being obnoxious, and not one of Yurok’s attacks filling the halls with poisoned gas or something.

Up and down, left and right, corkscrews and ramps, we traveled through the mines. If there was an architect, some grand overseer seeing the planning of how the mines were excavated, they were quite mad.

No, more likely that it was just some sort of free for all, with each dwarf having done their own thing.

Three hallways later, and I sprung another trap. [Bullet Time] activated as a hidden stone axe, comically large, sliced towards my neck. I threw up a [Mantle of the Stars] in front of me, starting to grin as it stopped the trap stone cold.

Only to feel the bite of a second axe from behind sink into my neck, slicing through my spinal column, paralyzing and crippling my body. It continued, in slow motion, at high speed, cutting through my carotid arteries, my windpipe, and the rest of my neck, as I desperately tried to heal and reattach my head to the rest of my body. I wanted to frantically claw at it, to scream the fear out. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t scream. I could only be aware of the steadily slicing axe killing me. I was crippled, and my vocal cords had been cut in half.

The axe was too large, and continued to interfere, even as my new enhancement from classing up and improving [Dance with the Heavens] to get rid of foreign objects started to chew through the material.

Then I was flying, up towards the ceiling, spinning in such a way that I could see a headless body, dressed in a mismatch of Sentinel gear, collapse to the ground, blood spurting out in great gouts as my heart continued to pump, having never gotten the message that the head was gone.

My healing kicked in, and with a shudder and a tiny pop, I regrew my entire body in a single go. There was no slow, gradual regrowing, just matter instantaneously being recreated. A small shiver went through me, as hundreds of thousands of nerves reconnected in a single moment, flooding my mind with foreign, yet familiar, sensations.

Physics got slightly confused at this, as my head was going in one direction, then suddenly a bunch of extra mass was added on, but contrived to cause as much annoyance as possible. I slammed into the ceiling, cracking my head against the hard stone, then fell back to the floor with an ungainly splat.

I mentally cursed as my face landed in blood, and the rest of my body crashed into the hard, unyielding stone. My old body continued to exsanguinate, baptizing the new one in hot spurts of life’s most vital substance. Being on my stomach was super uncomfortable, and I rolled over, getting blood in my hair, panting as I stared at the ceiling.

That had been way too close.

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [The Dawn Sentinel] has leveled up to level 355->357! +3 Dexterity, +24 Speed, +24 Vitality, +170 Mana, +170 Mana Regen, +48 Magic power, +48 Magic Control from your Class per level! +1 Free Stat for being Human per level! +1 Mana, +1 Mana Regen from your Element per level!]

[*Ding!* [Celestial Affinity] leveled up! 355 -> 357]

[*Ding!* [Center of the Universe] leveled up! 355 -> 357]

[*Ding!* [Dance with the Heavens] leveled up! 355 -> 357]

[*Ding!* [Sentinel's Superiority] leveled up! 355 -> 357]

[*Ding!* [Long-Range Identify] leveled up! 355 -> 357]

I checked my mana, only to see I still had tens of thousands of points left, having burned through some 80k points of mana for that particular stunt. I could totally improve that with a better image, and getting a good image back into my [Persistent Casting] was now high on my to-do list.

Also.

I’d survived being decapitated!

Down in the rapidly expanding pool of blood, I couldn’t help myself. I lifted my hands above my head, deeper into the pool, and yelled.

“I did it! I survived a beheading! Headless Elaine - total victory! Woohooooooooo!” I howled my victory into the air, down the hallways as loudly as I could, kicking my feet in excitement.

As long as I had mana, I was going to be super hard to kill. I already knew that, but now I knew it.

Voices came to me.

“Whoa, whoa, WHOA! That did NOT just happen!” Fik yelled.

“That happened. That really happened. Pinch me, this has got to be the most elaborate dream I’ve ever had. Between the dragon, and the battle, and everything burning down, and now Elaine surviving that? Dream. Only explanation.” Drin muttered to himself, like a man possessed.

I didn’t see who hit him, but I heard the smack.

“Argh! Son of a goat-fucker, that hurt!” Drin cried out. “This is the worst dream ever. I even get hurt in it.”

Another smacking noise.

“I didn’t ask you to keep going!”

“We should check that she’s ok.” Glifir said, which brought the pitter-patter of dwarf feet running on stone to my ears.

“Elaine? Elaine!” The dwarves were calling out, and four concerned faces popped up around me.

I lazily waved a hand above me in confirmation that I could hear them.

“I’m ok. Just need a moment.” I lazily said, continuing to just stare somewhat vacantly at the ceiling.

After a moment I blinked, groaned and rolled over, getting back up, naked as the day I was born. I looked at my old body, and at myself.

“This is going to take a few minutes.” I said, grabbing and dragging my old body back. I started to strip it, feeling more than a little uncomfortable with the process. Not only did it feel like I was robbing the dead, but it was my body. Well most of my body, without the head and all.

Robbing the dead took on strange flavors when it was my own dead body I was robbing. Just. Extra-squick.

I let a cold pragmatism take over, along with a desire not to trapeze along down the cold mines completely naked, as I continued to undress my unmoving body.

Never really knew my back looked like that.

Bonus - all my clothes, gear, everything was now soaked in blood. Yaaaay me.

The dwarves continued to be utterly incredulous in the background. A real peanut gallery.

“Her whole body. One instant.” Ned was muttering to himself, like a man possessed. He wasn’t the only one.

I finished stripping the body and realized I was missing something.

My pendant. The one from mom.

I dropped to my knees, before starting to search through the pool of blood, trying to find it. It had been around my neck, and given my old neck’s current inability to hold anything, it wouldn’t surprise me if it had fallen off.

“Whatcha looking for?” Glifir asked me, peering over my shoulder, poking me a bit as if to check that, yes, I was real and he wasn’t hallucinating.

“A pendant. From my mom. It’s good luck.” I said, smarting up a bit, and making my fingers into rakes, running them through the ever-expanding pool.

A bloody, tear-dropped shape emerged from the pool, and floated over.

“This it?” Fik asked.

I didn’t need to see him to know he was grinning, his great bushy beard split.

I found some running water and gave the stone a quick rinse, my pendant emerging from it.

“Yes!” I said, throwing my arms around him.

Or tried to anyways. I was rudely halted mid-air as Fik jumped back, laughing.

“Now now, none of that. Get clean and clothed first.” He said, pointing at my pile of gear.

I flushed. Yeah, I wouldn’t want to be hugged by the naked bloody mostly-stranger either.

There was something to be said for giving the clothes a quick rinse in one of the water puddles, but we were also going to drink from them at some point. Also, we’d spent enough time here. There was enough urgency to finding Toke that said “don’t spend 15 minutes washing clothes.” I did quickly dip and wring them, to get the worst of it out.

Although, waiting 15 minutes would get me enough mana to survive a second decapitation. I was starting to become a real powerhouse - while I had mana.

I started to put on the blood-soaked clothes, wincing as the freezing-cold blood was pressed against my flesh. I had regrets about rinsing them quickly.

Tunic: 8/10.

Tunic drenched in cold blood: 1/10.

It didn’t even get me a [Pretty] level!

Still, as I finished getting my clothes and armor back on, I couldn’t help but think:

This totally gave new meaning to “Axe body spray.”

 

[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 19]

[Mana: 32584/242710]

[Mana Regen: 219805 (+155334.4)]

Stats

[Free Stats: 103]

[Strength: 273]

[Dexterity: 503]

[Vitality: 3424]

[Speed: 3424]

[Mana: 24271]

[Mana Regeneration: 24271 (+15533.44)]

[Magic Power: 10081 (+151719.05)]

[Magic Control: 10081 (+151719.05)]

[Class 1: [The Dawn Sentinel - Celestial: Lv 357]]

[Celestial Affinity: 357]

[Cosmic Presence: 269]

[Solar Infusion: 140]

[Center of the Universe: 357]

[Dance with the Heavens: 357]

[Wheel of Sun and Moon: 311]

[Mantle of the Stars: 315]

[Sunrise: 128]

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

[Radiance Affinity: 256]

[Radiance Resistance: 256]

[Radiance Conjuration: 256]

[Shine: 189]

[Sun-Kissed: 256]

[Blaze: 256]

[Talaria: 256]

[Nova: 256]

[Class 3: Locked]

General Skills

[Long-Range Identify: 357]

[Pristine Memories: 205]

[Pretty: 154]

[Bullet Time: 269]

[Oath of Elaine to Lyra: 301]

[Sentinel's Superiority: 357]

[Persistent Casting: 255]

[Learning: 341]

 

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Selkie

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