52. Expanding Vocab— Uh... Inventory?
The blue flames turned red as they continued to burn the eggs of the Centinels in the background. We did not leave just yet, instead choosing to scour the Lair for just a little longer to see if there are any hidden eggs.
“While a few dozen [Newborn Centinels] won’t be much of a problem, we just have to make sure we aren’t overlooking a hundred.”
“But we’ve already cleared the Lair— I can’t even tell that we’re in a Lair anymore!”
“Of course, Salvos. But we just have to be sure.”
Jaakko explained the logic to me while we did our search. I glanced over at the other side of the cavernous room— at the burrowed holes that littered the rock wall.
“What about the [Junior Centinels] that aren’t here? Won’t they be a problem?”
“They will be a pest, yes. But with only a few left to fight the Giant Spiders, the latter will win out eventually.”
I scowled, crossing my arms.
“But that’d be a waste of good experience!”
The Cyclops man paused, rubbing at his chin. His lips peeled back, revealing the rest of his sharp teeth hidden within as he mulled over a thought.
“If you… wish to join in the Lair war right now, I will not stop you, Salvos. I have seen your abilities— seen how fast you’ve been able to level. I trust in your capacity to take care of yourself for an hour.”
I blinked for a moment, processing what he said. Then my eyes widened and my lips curled up into a smile.
I glanced excitedly down one of the pitch black tunnels before turning my gaze back to him. Attacking dozens of Centinels while they were embroiled in a fight against the Giant Spiders would certainly be much easier than taking them on all by myself. And if anything went bad, I would always be able to run away. With both [Self Haste] and [Charge of Embers]— the latter of which was an attack Skill, but could be reappropriated for fleeing— I’d be able to escape with ease.
“As long as you don’t draw a horde of monsters to us, yes.”
Jaakko smiled at me reassuringly. I felt my feet bouncing under me as I whirled around to leave. I paused midstep, glancing back at him for a moment. I remembered something from a few days ago— a gesture Edithe showed me.
I quickly ran back and hugged him from behind, much to his surprise.
“I promise I won’t get you three killed!”
“That is… yes, I’ll take your word for it.”
I nodded at him then ran off, waving at Helen and Zack goodbye. I would be back in an hour— which was not even that long— before we would head off. I crawled through the same tunnel we came through, heading back to the Giant Spiders Nest.
Sounds of fighting slowly filled my ears as I returned to where Jaakko and I defeated those [Junior Centinels] from earlier. I peeked over the hole hanging high atop the Lair and glanced down below.
Now Entering [Lair: Giant Spiders Nest].
Hundreds of Giant Spiders were mixed with dozens upon dozens of Centinels— both sides had their dead scattered all across the various levels of the long pit filled with a dozen webbed layers and floors.
I narrowed my eyes as I saw the monsters closest to me; they were clumped together along the walls just a short distance from me. However, I couldn’t walk on the walls. If I tried to attack them, I would fall!
So I thought for a moment. How was I to join in the fighting without dropping down to the bottom of the pit and get caught in the large battle there? I just needed a ranged weapon!
I created a fire bow in one hand and focused on creating an arrow in my other. It took me a moment to emulate the feeling of an arrow, however it wasn’t really that complex. Even a fire dagger was simpler to make than it.
Slowly, I nocked the fire arrow and loosed it at the closest Centinel to me. I aimed for his eye and missed. The flames bounced off his shell, doing nothing more than draw his attention for a moment. I frowned and considered this. So that’s not going to kill them.
The distracted Centinel was swarmed by a group of Giant Spiders and killed shortly after, but I received no experience for it. Is it no experience, or too little experience to matter? I mused momentarily before shifting my focus on what I could do.
[Advanced Mana Manipulation]. [Advanced Fire Creation].
I created another fire arrow and looked at it. I could do so much more than just make this sharp object. I remembered the Piercing Arrows and Explosive Bolts I had. I couldn’t exactly create those with my Skill, however I could try to create something similar.
I focused on refining the fire arrow I held in the palm of my hand. I poured more mana into it, keeping it stable as it grew brighter and wilder. Then the corybantic flames calmed. It began to exude a sizzling sound as it vibrated on the spot. And I gasped, exhausted.
That took a lot from me. I hope this works.
I once again nocked the arrow— the Blazing Bolt— and aimed at a Centinel skittering along the walls. I released it, and it shot straight towards the monster. It pierced his shell and knocked him off into an angry [Drop Spider] which bludgeoned him to death.
I smirked and turned my gaze to my free hand.
I repeated the same process, draining quite a lot of mana from me with each Blazing Bolt I created. They all produced the same effect— they cracked the armor of the Centinels, piercing into their body— sending them into the Giant Spiders.
It was tiring and it took a while. However, it had a dual effect. Firing down at the Centinels allowed me to gain some experience from a safe distance, but it also drew the attention from the ones close enough to reach me.
I fought those head on, defeating them by myself and gaining more experience than I would have if I simply damaged them before they were killed.
Defeated [Junior Centinel – Lvl. 67]!
More experience is awarded for defeating an enemy at least 20 levels above you!
Less experience is awarded for defeating an enemy with the help of others!
Defeated [Junior Centinel – Lvl. 61]!
More experience is awarded for defeating an enemy at least 10 levels above you!
Less experience is awarded for defeating an enemy with the help of others!
General Skill [Basic Mana Manipulation] Level Up!
[Advanced Mana Manipulation - Lvl. 1] -> [Advanced Mana Manipulation - Lvl. 2]!
Experience is awarded for the leveling of a General Skill!
Subspecies [Midday Changeling] Level Up!
[Midday Changeling – Lvl. 46] -> [Midday Changeling – Lvl. 47]
Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!
I leaned back against the wall, panting and puffing as I watched the last of the Centinels flee from the Lair of Giant Spiders. There had been dozens— maybe even over a hundred— but now only a few remained. They were routed, fully and completely defeated by the combined efforts of myself and the hundreds of Giant Spiders.
However, it was not like the Giant Spiders made off with no casualties. More than half of their nest had been wiped out by the Centinels. I glanced down at the survivors and smiled at them.
“Hey, thanks for the help!”
I called out, waving. The monsters didn’t respond. They didn’t react. But they didn’t swarm me either, like they often would in the past. I was about to take a seat and [Rest] when a voice drew my attention from behind.
“Who are you talking to, Salvos?”
Helen walked up to me, followed by Jaakko and Zack. The three looked the same as when I had last seen them. Good, so the fleeing Centinels didn’t attack them. I waved a hand off dismissively.
“The Giant Spiders. We beat all the Centinels.”
Zack’s eyes widened.
“You killed all of them?!”
“Well, I didn’t do it by myself. And not all of them. A few escaped and burrowed through the walls.”
I paused, tilting my head up slightly.
“Is that bad?”
“It’s not bad, Salvos. You did a good job. It’s impossible to wipe out every single rat in an infestation, however we did our duty and did out best. As you have seen, Centinels aren’t very intelligent. They wouldn’t even realize their Lair had been destroyed and search for something else to kill. Then they would die slowly by the other monsters in the Dungeon.”
Jaakko spoke reassuringly. I hesitated, twirling my thumbs.
“Uh… about that. I don’t think there’s very many monsters left in Silkfall’s Crevice.”
“And there aren’t very many Centinels left. There’s no need to worry.”
He smiled and rested a hand on my shoulder. I nodded, then turned to Helen as she peered down into the Giant Spiders Lair.
“So, how are we going to cross through? Won’t they be a problem.”
“They won’t. I helped them, so they won’t attack us.”
She exchanged a glance with Zack.
“Salvos, I don’t think they know that. Giant Spiders aren’t very… intelligent.”
I scowled, crossing my arms.
“Then why are they just leaving us be, huh? And they’re much smarter than Centinels.”
“That’s true, but…”
She trailed off, not meeting my gaze. I watched as she gave Zack a pleading look and he just shrugged. Jaakko stepped forward, nodding at me then Helen.
“Salvos is right. Maybe not for the right reasons, however the Giant Spiders won’t attack us. Not with how their Lair is currently. They’ll be busy repairing— patching up the holes made by the Centinels with their webs. This is our chance to pass through.”
The Human [Archer] opened her mouth before looking over at me. I stared back at her, arms still folded, and she sighed.
“Alright. I didn’t mean to argue with you, Salvos. Just… let’s just go.”
Now Leaving [Lair: Giant Spiders Nest].
The three of them went and I followed from a distance, sulking. Zack walked ahead of me, muttering under his breath.
“I told you she has to be a noble. Who else would believe that monsters can think.”
“Shut up. She can hear you. And yes, some monsters can think.”
“Not Giant Spiders though—”
“I said be quiet!”
She punched him on the arm and he yelped; I continued walking behind them after we made it past the Giant Spiders Lair. I glanced back at it one last time before turning the corner and saw a [Weaving Spider] hop up and begin unfurling a thick web where the hole had been. I waved back at her slightly, and she paused to stare for a moment, before continuing her work.
They know, see?
I reassured myself, smiling. Then finally, we left the Dungeon too.
Now Leaving [Dungeon: Silkfall’s Crevice].
It was night by the time we found ourselves back at the camp set up just outside of the Dungeon; most of the Silvers were mulling about, eating their dinners or sleeping. Boring, I thought, meeting the eyes of a young Human man.
He immediately glanced away as his companions laughed at him. I waited behind the three Gold Ranks, still not talking while they had a discussion.
“Are you sure we should be leaving the Giant Spiders alone?”
“They aren’t like Centinels. They do not overbreed nor do they actively seek to destroy settlements.”
“What about the Silvers? It’ll be dangerous to them.”
“Now they’ll actually be able to face the Dungeon without worry of Centinels, and the Giant Spiders are barely above 40 at the highest. I’d say Silkfall’s Crevice is now only a high Silver Ranked Dungeon.”
“You worry too much, Helen. That is one of your best attributes, but you need to know when not to interfere.”
Helen sighed, rubbing at her temples.
She murmured before turning to me.
“What about you, Salvos? What will you be doing now?”
“I believe she’ll be going back to Hazelbury, since that’s where she’s from.”
Zack spoke up simply. The blonde woman wrinkled a brow.
“Hazelbury? Isn’t that one of the cities we’ll be passing through up north?”
“Yes, and…? Wait, don’t tell me—”
Helen walked up to me and grabbed me by the hand. I cocked my head, confused.
“Let us escort you back to your city. We’re heading in the same direction as you, and we’ll be able to have a proper goodbye there.”
“Come on, Helen. You’ve already seen her fight— don’t you realize she can take care of herself?”
Zack protested. He turned to the Cyclops man who was rubbing at his chin.
“If that is what Helen wants, and Salvos doesn’t disagree, I don’t see why that’d be a problem.”
The [Mage] groaned, smacking his forehead.
I looked at this and thought about it for a moment. I wasn’t really in any rush to return. And I needed to take a better look at Jaakko’s kusarigama if I wanted to emulate it better with my [Advanced Fire Creation]— especially after [Advanced Mana Manipulation] leveled up. I may be able to make it now. But most important of all...
“Do you know the way to Hazelbury?”
I glanced up at Helen. She blinked.
“...yes? Do you know the way there?”
I spoke simply. Zack sighed and Jaakko smiled.
“Then it’s settled then. We’ll be in the company of each other for a little while longer.”
The [Mage] grumbled, walking past me as the grin on my face began to slip.
“We better not make any more unnecessary detours. We have a contract to fulfill!”
The Cyclops man followed after him and Helen laughed as she patted his back. My eyes widened, realizing that I had made a tactical blunder.
“Wait— are you going to sleep?!”
I opened my mouth and raised a hand. Then I lowered my hand slowly, remembering a word that fit this situation perfectly as I sighed.