Within the ever-constant dungeon of adventure and death, Doc watched as his slimes fought with adventurers. Being the dungeon itself, Doc could easily observe multiple fights across his floors and predict the outcomes of each one. In this current moment, a single adventurer was using fire magic to fight a small group of bug slimes on the 4th floor and a duo of adventurers were fighting off some herb slimes on the 7th floor while protecting a few herb gathering alchemists. Each fight went through Doc’s crystal; nothing was hidden from his sight in the dungeon except Claire’s home.
The thought of Claire roused Doc from his monotonous observation as he remembered Claire had used her secret exit to go out to town. Ever since her successful theft of the alcohol from the elf tree party, Claire had been inspired to return to town and search for new things that could inspire new slime evolution. The booze, as adventurers called the alcohol, had failed to inspire a new evolution from the slimes they tested and they had run out of spirits from trying.
“Claire,” Doc said through their mental bond, “have you reached the town yet? Are you alright?”
Claire’s exasperated reply came a moment later. “If you were going to be so worried about me, then why didn’t you let me use the new exits?”
“You know why Claire,” Doc reminded her, “You and I already had a talk about using the town exits; you made sure I understood that we were really lucky that only Rowen saw me take the corpse away. You’ve also taught me that adventurers would steal you away if given the chance, and I don’t want to risk you getting captured where I can’t save you.”
“And yet,” Claire remarked with sarcasm, “even with that all said, you still let me leave the safety of the dungeon to go to a town full of adventurers who all stand to gain from my capture. If the end result is going to be the same, why not make my journey easier?”
Doc paused to think for a moment.
“Wait, why am I in the wrong here? You made me let you go,” he complained.
“Of course I did! I might be a young pixie of 50 years, but I’ve still learned enough from mommy to not be found so easily,” Claire declared with pride, “I can conjure some of the best invisibility spells of my generation and I can even cast mimicry and camouflage spells.”
“Huh,” Doc blanked for a moment, “I didn’t realize you were useful for things besides information.”
There was a very long pause.
“Hey Doc,” Claire began, “did you or did you not watch me during the undead dungeon invasion?”
“Um, maybe?” Doc tried to remember, “I seem to recall you had a kind of battle outfit on.”
“What, is that all you remember?” Claire asked incredulously, “that was a complete set of magical pixie armor that, according to my mother, was made by the finest pixie smiths and the best materials! You didn’t see my flashy fight with the skeletons or the magic battle with the undead mages? That’s so sad!”
She cried out in frustration, “I worked really hard you know. It’s not easy to slay things 10 times your height with a sword smaller than my body!”
Doc coughed awkwardly. “My bad,” he apologized, “you must have fought extremely hard and exhausted a lot of you power during the fight.”
“I really did,” Claire muttered angrily, “what were you doing that so important?”
“Well, I was focusing on the large dungeon battle against the skeletons, as well as the two other groups of slimes outside the dungeon,” Doc considered
Claire stared up at Doc’s crystal with new awareness as her face grew flush with embarrassment. “Er,” she stuttered, “yeah, um, anyway I am indeed a strong warrior! Dungeon Pixies originally had to fight alongside their dungeons way back in the past, and those skills are passed down verbally to every generation. My mother, being of a family of undead dungeon pixies, was especially good with sneaky spells. Oh, found a flower to experiment with!”
“Let’s focus on what you just said,” Doc pressed, “did you say your mother and rest of the family are undead dungeon pixies? I thought the assignments were random and that the dungeons choose their monsters? Also, didn’t you also just say your armor was crafted by some of the finest pixie smiths? That means your family is well connected, right?”
“All true,” Claire acknowledged as she quickly stole some more flowers, “to begin, remember how I hid the option for you to choose undead as your starting monster race? The members of the oldest and strongest dungeon pixie families all do the same when they find their partner. I’m a bit of an outlier really in terms of being a dungeon pixie; even my mommy had to admit I was the white sheep of the family.”
“Claire, if you know all this about your people, does this mean your memory has been restored fully?” Doc asked carefully, “This the first time you’ve talked about your family since that mental break you had . . . about a year ago now.”
“Hey, our anniversary is coming up!” Claire said brightly, “we’ll have to do something to celebrate later.”
“Claire, don’t change the subject,” Doc said firmly, “I’m worried about you.”
He heard Claire sigh.
“Fine,” she admitted, “while not completely fixed, I recall many parts and aspects of being a dungeon pixie. Remember how when I first showed up and cried because you were my first assignment? I was clearly wrong there; you were and are my only possible dungeon partner unless something drastic happens. I’m guessing you want to know more about dungeon pixies then?”
“Yes,” Doc declared strongly.
“As I told you, dungeon pixies are a race of pixie that inherited the ancestral bond created by the ancestor dungeon pixie and his dungeon. Because we all descend from the same male pixie, the various groups of my race are divided based on the strength of the bloodline. Every other generation, we dungeon pixies are required to find a mate from the original pixie race to prevent inbreeding problems. The best candidates are earth pixies, because our ancestors were one originally. My family is one of the oldest and purest lines as we only have earth pixie ancestors. My mother married an earth pixie, my daddy. Having my memory fixed, I’ve remembered that I did grow up knowing him, and he is the one who taught me about plants to the disapproval of my mother. Though, he was killed when visiting a relative by adventurers, that much was true.”
“I’m sorry,” Doc said in sympathy.
“Yeah, me too,” Claire sighed in resignation, “I was the closest child to him; the others took after mommy more. Maybe that was why she cast a spell on me after the attack, to try to make me more like her.”
“She sounds kind of mean,” Doc observed, “from what I’ve seen through Rowen, I don’t think normal families cast mind altering magic on their children. In fact, I really believe think that’s frowned upon.”
“No!” Claire shouted resolutely, “my mommy is a great pixie! She taught me loads and took care of me when I was sick! She was just . . . disappointed I wasn’t more like her.”
“I think you are great,” Doc encouraged, “there’s no other pixie I’d rather be partnered with!”
“Thanks Doc,” Claire smiled softly as she flew through the busy street overhead, “I appreciate that.”
“So,” Doc continued, “does your pixie species do anything else interesting?”
“Oh, well there is the competition every 50 years between pixies,” Claire said, unworried as she snagged a bottle of booze and turned it invisible, “I guess that’s coming up soon since the last one was the year I was born. I’m still new so I don’t expect to get an invitation this time.”
“That’s too bad I guess,” Doc seemed to shrug through the bond, “are you almost done collecting?”
“Just about,” Claire promised as she spied a metal ingot near a forge. She swooped over and struggled to lift it.
“Eh?” she muttered, suddenly aware of a pair of eyes watching her. Feeling threatened, Claire vanished as she took off at top speed back to the hidden dungeon exit. Olaf watched her leave, a thoughtful expression on his face.
When Claire returned to the dungeon, she decided not to tell Doc about her near encounter with a human. There was no sense getting him more riled up about something that did no harm.
“Alright Doc,” Claire began, “for today’s experiments, I have: more alcohol, various flowers, some hair I pulled, a stick, and some broken glass I found outside an alchemist shop.”
“That sounds like you brought back a bunch of garbage,” Doc said candidly.
“Well, I did, but who knows if any of this waste could be useful. Might as well give it a shot,” shrugging her shoulders.
“You’re right. Now, what do we try first?”
“Booze,” Claire and Doc said together.
Claire rubbed her little hands together, “Alright, we figured out last time that alcohol does nothing to a normal slime or any of the elemental slimes. Well, setting fire slimes on fire doesn’t count. I vote this time we try the herb slime.”
“Why herb slime?” Doc asked.
“Because some types of alcohol are made from plants,” Claire explained, “we should also try the plant slime just in case.”
“Alright, I’ll summon them up,” Doc said as he focused his mana. Two green slimes popped up from the floor and jiggled as they landed. Claire opened the glass bottle and poured the alcohol on both slimes.
“Claire, why did you take the entire glass bottle of alcohol? That’s expensive,” Doc admonished her.
“I needed the glass for my home, and we can use it in more experiments,” Claire waved him off, “hey look something is happening!”
The herb slime vibrated as it underwent evolution. Its slime arched out of its body in loops as it changed colors from green to a light brown. When it calmed down, the new slime sat slightly taller than it used to be.
“What’s the magic analysis say?” Claire asked.
“It’s a booze slime,” Doc reported as his magic displayed the information in the normal magic blue box, “an herb slime absorbed enough alcohol to the point that its original herbal slime layer has fermented into a special, drinkable slime. When defeated, rather than dropping a normal slime core, a booze slime will leave behind a core that can release its personal alcohol. Older booze slimes taste better, and the variety of herb slime it evolves from can have an effect on the taste.”
“That’s . . . not something I expected to see,” Claire admitted, “I do not expect adventurers to figure out this slime is drinkable for a long time. Perhaps you can use it on the fire and water slime floors as a supplement?”
“I guess I could,” Doc agreed, “let’s continue.”
The next experiments using the stick, hair, and flowers failed. Claire was disappointed about the flowers not sparking a new evolution, but she was pleased that they caused new varieties of flower slimes to evolve from the plant slimes.
“I guess all that’s left is to use the broken glass,” Doc observed, “since it’s my turn to choose, I’ll summon a grey slime for this test.”
The grey slime wiggled as it moved under Doc’s direction to eat the glass. Nothing happened after it finished absorbing the shiny material.
“Another failure,” Claire shook her head in disappointment, “it could be you haven’t unlocked a high enough tier to spark an evolution, or maybe it’s the wrong slime. That’s too bad.”
Doc stared down at the grey slime for a moment, “I get the sense that the glass did have an effect though. Look, doesn’t it seem like the grey slime is acting odd?”
The grey slime below was wiggling some tentacles in the air. While not an odd behavior in and of itself, the slime was actually moving without Doc actively controlling it. Normal slimes didn’t waggle their tentacles without outside stimuli. More curious, however, was that Doc could see the sharp edges of glass traveling up the tentacles to the ends, resulting in a deadly looking tentacle sword.
“I wonder,” Doc mused, “what would happen if I gave it more edged items?”
Looking through his astral bag, Doc summoned forth various broken swords and daggers onto the floor. The grey slime quickly slid over without any prompting from Doc and devoured the fragments. After finishing, it began twitching and growing.
“Wow Doc, you figured out a new evolution!” Claire cheered, “what is it?”
“A sharp slime,” Doc announced as the new slime took form, “this grey family slime is similar to the armor slime. Instead of armor, it devoured sharp weapons. As a result, these weapons surround the slime and can be used for extra damage during ramming attacks. Under certain conditions, it can also release the weapons within like arrows. It is nicknamed ‘porcupine slime’ by new adventurers.”
The newly evolved sharp slime did resemble a porcupine, with its grey slime exterior covered in blade fragments that poked out into the air.
“I give it a point: a sharp point,” Doc declared.
Claire gave herself a face-slap and groaned.