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Dreamweaver Chapter 130

 

 

 

 

In the Ever dungeon Continued…

 

Knowing that they are out there searching for us and wanting to murder us scares the crap out of us. We don’t dare move for a long time from our hiding place. The minutes tick by slowly…while we wait for Moose and Jimmy to get farther away. Even if they are out of sight we’re worried about how sound travels underground.

Then I ignited the light long after I think it’s safe.

Then we can finally breathe. Even with all my skills I don’t trust being able to go against Moose. He’s just too freaking big.

This hiding spot is hard to get out of because we’re sort of in a crevasse that’s above the normal tunnel. When we move a lot of gravel spills out onto the tunnel ground and there’s the sound of like scratchy sandpaper while we’re moving out.

Finally the dwarf and I land on our feet. It was scary that part of the time we were directly above their heads.

“Can you get us out here?” the dwarf asked me.

“Huh? Aren’t you the tunneling expert? I was going to ask you that,” I stated.

He seemed to collect himself a little but, though he’s still edgy. “Oh right. Sorry the fear got to me a bit. At any rate I’m good to go now.”

“So what’s wrong with those guys? Not everyone is like them right?” I asked the dwarf. It just so happens he’s still scowling, but he’s always got a serious look that’s almost like a scowl so I can’t tell if that’s good or bad.

“No, I don’t think so? There’s always some risk in every party. I hadn’t ever seen something like this,” he guessed.

“Is that so? Is there anything else you’ve noticed that might help?” I asked.

He seemed to hesitate. “Well there is one thing. Most people on this continent either adventure with their tribes, their kin, people they are related to or that are in their crafts. The alternative is slaves. It’s considered bad form to join teams that you have no ties to, or that have no vested interest in keeping you alive somehow. Once in a while you find a few people maybe one or two that you can be friends with but to be honest that’s rare.”

I halted and regarded him coolly thinking about it.

So my options suck right now. I have no kin or friends that aren’t already in my team. No tribe or crafts groups that I belong to either.

Would a mage group count as like a craftsman group of some kind? That might take months or weeks to break into by itself. If normal people like this dwarf are suspicious of outsiders, people with high intellect and high skills with their own social rules are going to be even a step or three more suspicious than that.

“But you didn’t seem as new as those other guys,” I said sizing him up.

He nodded. “Good eye.”

“This is my eleventh dungeon run total, but first time with those two yahoos. I came in as a newbie but I’m actually not, but the trauma of losing my whole team shook me up so badly that I wanted to do a fresh start. I’m not a total newbie but I’m not sure what’s up with this dungeon. My other runs were at the Orc Skull Dungeon so its my first time here. Though to be fair I have collected a lot of information on it from everyone I could before trying this but with that giant killer dude it probably isn’t going to be enough. I hope you can get us out here,” he said.

Again he looked down. So he must have been pretty attached to his other team.

“Sorry about your other team then,” I said.

“It’s OK. I need to move forward from now. I’ve grieved them long enough,” he said.

“So you changed dungeons after that and switched to this one?” I asked.

He bit his lip, and I could tell he was thinking of some bad memories. “I wanted a change after my team was lost in Orc Skull’s system. It’s an easier to navigate dungeon, but it tends to swarm often and its hard to predict the swarms. By the time we realized it was swarming, it was too late to get out. Then right after that I lost my team,” Gyle said.

“So why it is this career is so dangerous? I thought it used to be lucrative,” I questioned, hoping he could provide further insight.

“Well the truth is it’s been tough to do dungeon work for nearly a century, not just the last five years or so. Everyone keeps saying for the last five to ten years but its way beyond that. You see about a century ago veteran elite teams started having to pull back from the deeper floors and instead do the levels closer to the surface that newbies usually did. But because they could still make it work and people were making a living and some decent money still, people just wrote it off as bad economy that would correct itself later and at those time periods only the newbies were taking the hits and being pushed out so people would make excuses that they didn’t have enough training or experience. Socially others wanted to use that also as an excuse to solidify their own social position,” he explained.

That was making more sense actually.

We kept moving down the tunnels carefully while he’s explaining, though while moving we did lower our voices to the lowest whispers.

“There’s also rumor, unconfirmed of course, that the demon moon’s orbits being closer to the planet may be influencing the dungeons and the magic active on this planet. Some sages think that’s influenced the dungeons growing in strength,” he added.

I hadn’t heard a theory like that before.

“We need to work out our options,” he said scratching his jaw.            

“The exit isn’t far from us. It’s just across the cavern but I think those guys are staying close to this area,” I said.  

“That’s very possible. Damn if they are guarding it, this will be touch and go,” he admitted.

“So the longer we stay here, the worse it will be for us. We need to go deeper into the dungeon instead of closer to the exit. That eight foot tall guy is worse than any dungeon boss. I don’t want to fight him if I can help it,” I said.

He sucked in his breath. “You know this place is full of kobold patrols,” he said.  

“And we’re going to beat them. That guy could solo most the kobold patrols and we can’t. What does that tell you?” I said confidently.  

“But we’re alone! Two versus a small horde? Are you crazy?” he asked. 

I don’t like it either since a lot of my skills are defensive. But suddenly I had an idea.

“Come with me,” I said.

“You have a plan?” he asked hopefully with a smile. He wants to live, so right now he’ll do whatever I say. But there’s a catch on that. First he has to know I’m not a poor investment too at the same time. Fear of losing your life can do that to people.

“I do, in fact have a plan. But first I want to do an experiment,” I said.

His face fell. “This really isn’t the best time for that.”

We decided to get moving. We’re moving down deeper into the belly of the beast. After awhile I come to an intersection.

“This should do nicely,” I said.

“This is the worst place to stop. All four tunnels converging on a plus sign section makes you vulnerable to attack if you stay here,” he said with a lilting warning voice.

He’s probably normally right. But with my barrier spells this is actually ideal in a way because it’s less predictable where I’ll run to those that are chasing me.

“I have to try something,” I said. 

I’d been working it out in my head for the last hour.  

The thought was…if you could put a runic magic shield on a person…why couldn’t you do the same thing on a tunnel?  

There shouldn’t be any reason why you couldn’t. I’d been arguing for and against it for the last hour. It should take more mana was my biggest concern. That had almost made me quit the idea.

But how do I do it?

I’d already had minor success with sometimes being able to put a shield on a bag like I had the goblin shaman’s bag. So there should be a way to put it up like a force field right?

The dwarf has his arms folded and is upset and angry. He wants to move around and leave this place. But he’s listening and watching.

“Just a moment. I think I’ve got a plan for this place,” I said to calm him.

He raised an eyebrow.

I tried casting the runic shielding over an archway section of one of the tunnels leading inward.

It failed, complete with sparks and fizzles in accompaniment.

The dwarf is swearing some more but not saying anything directly. He gives me a funny look.

I tried again.

Then it failed. His funny look intensified.

The third time the spell took effect. There’s a bubble like thing that’s blocking and covering the tunnel like soapy water, except its solid; it did stay there and looks like molten glass but stays in a general wiggly jell-o like appearance. There’s something clearly wrong with it and it’s pushing like the surface of boiling water.

“That doesn’t look safe. In fact it looks like if you touched it, that it would explode or melt your arm,” the dwarf said, suddenly catching interest.

“Yeah, I suppose you are right. It’s not acidic and should be stable. Err once I get it down pat,” I said.

Then the bubble bursts right after that but we’re unharmed though there was a massive rush of air.

“You are trying to make a force field?” he guessed.

“Yeah, something like that,” I said.

“You might as well give up while you are ahead. To do that, you would have to be a shielding expert first,” he noted, while sharpening his short sword.

Eh? So others have pursued a route like this maybe?

The dwarf looks skeptical.

“I am.”

“Huh? What?” he seemed confused. Then he sort of seems to be calculating things in his mind.

I then cast a runic shield spell on him.

“Oh shit, is this real?” he exclaimed. He then reached out and touches it. He can feel the shielding when he tries too, the rest of the time it’s ethereal like and doesn’t touch or block movement or interactions with objects.

He interrupts my thinking… “Why didn’t you use that when the others were still alive? It could have saved them,” he grumbled.

“Because they would have died anyway and all it would have accomplished is revealing my abilities to that big thing…that Moose guy that Jimmy is working with. And those guys were going to kill everyone anyway. They were planning from the start to kill everyone for the loot shares. If he’d realized I was a threat then he just would have killed me first and then the rest of you would have died too. That would have accomplished nothing,” I replied coldly.

I didn’t like him second guessing me. He’s scowling a bit. I think deep down inside he knows I’m right but he’s having trouble accepting it.

As I’m going over the spell sequence in my head the dwarf is thinking about it. He’s thinking so hard his forehead looks like it might crack.

“I suppose you might be right. I knew it wasn’t right having that many die to friendly fire. But you are sure you couldn’t have saved some of them?” he asked.

“I’m not invincible. And that guy is wicked strong. I don’t think my shielding can endure his hits. There are limits to how much it can absorb. So I would have been killed too. That’s why I have to see if I can convert my shielding into some kind of forcefield,” I added.

“Hmm. I get it. You need something stronger,” he noted.

“That shielding spell I put on you will take a few hits by a normal person. But that guy wasn’t human and that size and mass was way over kill. He was tall, strong, and has a really heavy weapon. He was cutting them down two or three at a time. If he can crush them like they are tomatoes then my shields aren’t strong enough. We need a new tactic,” I said.

“Got it. Thanks for explaining. Sorry for my rudeness,” he said and bowed.

“It’s no problem. Now let me think a bit.”

I had to change the spell sequence.

That made me think back to the summon equipment box. I’d changed things then and kept notes on the changes. I could also mix in parts of the sequence of the dimension door spell and interlace the parts that make up the border of the shielding with it together.

I did a few more experiments.

“OK, let’s try this,” I said.

I then cast the new sequence.

It worked. At least I thought it worked.

Sure enough there’s a bubble field in place that looks almost like a flat soap bubble coating the archway and completely blocking and covering the inlet tunnel there. But I was surprised the mana field wasn’t very costly, as it usually is when I experiment.

It doesn’t look right.

So I tried to touch it.

My hand passes through it too easily. Oops, that’s all buggy. Not going to work at all. It’s definitely flawed, I see, as I try to tap my weapon on it. All I’ve done is create a fancy bubble. It’s not hard and doesn’t prevent attacks.

“Well at least it’s something. You just need to tweak it more,” the dwarf suggested. He’s also very curious himself, and also tests it and sees it isn’t blocking right.

So I have to go back over the sequence.

Yep sure enough, I’d mixed up parts…possibly. I’m thinking if I mix in the parts of the code differently I might have something else. I have to have more of the code for shielding and less of the code for the door.

Then I tried it again with a new modified sequence.

Success!

Wait. I might be wrong.

Instead I’ve made some kind of weird hard shelled fish bowl like bubble. There’s enough space in here for a whole team of people actually now. I’m sort of surprised by how it looks.

“What the hell is this?” the dwarf asked in surprise.

“I’m not sure yet?” I cringed.

It’s not blocking the doorways or posts but we are in a clear spherical bubble of some kind. We reach out to touch it carefully. And because we’re in a sectional room where tunnels converge from all four sides this room is a bit bigger so the bubble doesn’t take up the whole room.

“Hmm, is this what you were after?” the dwarf asked.

We’re both feeling the fishbowl and its hard clear surface and there aren’t any defects so far.

“There’s only one way to tell,” I said.

“Right. I got this,” he said.

He pulls out his sword and starts to slash the bubble from the inside. The attack bounces off the shell field thing, and the whole bubble wobbles like jell-o for a few seconds but goes right back to the spherical shape from before. The light blue bubbly jell-o bowl is jiggling like crazy but still retains a vertical shape.

“This is some weird shit,” he cursed trying to attack it again. Again his attack and weapon bounce of the field. I look where he’d attacked again to be sure. There isn’t anything there. It’s got no cracks or marks of any kind.

But now Gyle is nervous. His voice is trembling a lot. “Hey this thing won’t run out of air will it?”

Dammit. He’s got a point. That’s really a valid concern. I’m not sure, but it might be too thick. Air is definitely a must.

We have to get out here fast. But I have to keep a straight face, so he won’t get agitated and direct that agitation at me. I’m fighting my own panic about running out of time.

“I hope you can work fast before we run out of air,” he said angrily.

How will I open the bubble? I’m not sure how long it will even last, though I still have plenty of mana.

“Good question,” I muttered.  

“Oh shit, I’m with a newbie mage,” he cursed and is now really afraid and upset.

Or…I could just cancel it by doing the spell in reverse right?

I try it.

Sure enough it works.

The flooring of the bubble which kept us an inch or two above the floor also released as the bubble popped as we’re released from our prison.

“I need to change it one more time, but we’re really close,” I think.

“What?! You are going to do that cursed thing again?!” he looked at me like I’m nuts. 

“What? We’re close. Look how close it was to what I wanted. We did well,” I countered. 

“Argghh!” he cursed some more and is going back and forth pacing. 

So I changed the spell sequence again, although technically the fishbowl spell wasn’t a bad thing. It could be useful as a last ditch force field but it’s not what I want. I need something easier to control, and something I can use as a door gate over tunnels to control the flow of kobolds.

So I changed it again.

I cast it.  

“It’s perfect,” I said, seeing a flat field that’s covering the one doorway closest to us.

“Are you sure? You keep making mistakes,” he spat.

“They aren’t mistakes. That’s just experimenting and part of a necessary process,” I countered. I’m also right and not trying to justify myself. He just doesn’t get that before you make a hamburger you have to figure out the right ingredient ratios.

“Let’s find out if you’re right or full of bullshit,” the dour dwarf said. I’ll put up with his insolence for now.

He charged the field with his sword intending to smash it to prove I was wrong. But the blow bounced off the field. There’s also no marks or scars on the field.

Sweet!

I just got another spell. It also is using a pulse mana stream so it’s not using a lot of energy so I don’t have to worry too much about using it.

“I don’t believe it!” the dwarf said in awe.

Now both of us are feeling it with our hands. It does feel both hard and a little bouncy at the same time which is really weird because that shouldn’t be possible. As we test it with our weapons further it’s confirmed that it is a stable field that does absorb damage.

“This is good! This can keep us alive!” the dwarf said finally, still in awe.

He then looks at me like he’s an ant and I’m way above him in power…which is true because I am.

“You can save us!” he gasped.

“You think so?” I asked curious what he’s thinking.

“A lot of dwarven towns if they’d had someone with abilities like that, they’d never have fallen to the enemy,” he said with wide eyes. I hope he doesn’t start groveling though…the anti-siege applications of this particular spell would be almost infinite.

But then from behind us we hear something. We turn our heads and sure enough in one of the other tunnels, something is approaching.

Both of us are worried its Jimmy and Moose.

Turns out a kobold defense patrol has arrived. There are roughly ten of them, and they are led by an 11th man, who is some kind of veteran goblin fellow. All of them are in rags, but their weapons are sharper than I liked.

“If you change the angle of the field, you can split the enemy’s team in two,” the dwarf suggested, thinking quickly. He has a good head for tactics, it seems.

Since he’s right I decide to give it a shot. I cast the barrier spell so it’s diagonal across the room and blocking off our section of the square room from theirs along with the two inlet tunnels going into their side. Because it’s diagonal it also didn’t cut off all of their team directly. So four kobolds can now attack us, but their friends and their leader can’t.

“You didn’t split them evenly,” the dwarf growled even while defending himself.

Of course I didn’t split them even. I split them enough to kill them quickly but not be overwhelmed.

Using his short sword, he’s already thrust it deep into the belly of one kobold, then kicked the body off and blocked the two swings of the next kobold. He’s not invincible but he’s handling himself. So his fighting skills aren’t totally inept. He probably still thinks he’s more powerful than me, which is laughable.

I struggle to keep up but cast a starry missile spell and bury all three darts into the closest kobold to me. He dies but I’m surprised I didn’t get more of them. It means they are also the tougher variety, and won’t go down easily.

With my axe I bring it up in time to deflect the next guy’s attacks for a block pattern. We have a series of blocks together while the dwarf fights recklessly. He manages to kill his kobold quickly but there are a few inch sized nicks and scratches in the runic shielding I’d put on him.

“You aren’t supposed to let them damage you,” I reminded him. Then I used my axe to trip this enemy in front of me, while at the same time kicking its center of balance. Sure enough it falls on its back.

I then chopped it with the axe between the legs at the center of its hip while it screams pitifully.

As we look up we see our new problem.

One of the kobolds has stayed as a scout or sentry to watch but the others have already left. They’ve gone back the way they came.

“Where’d they go?” I asked.

“That’s easy enough to figure out. They probably are looping back the way they came to the next tunnel section to come in from one of our unblocked tunnels,” he said.

“Great…” I muttered.

“They will also bring their friends along the way, so we need to move fast,” he said.        

He didn’t need to tell me that, it was obvious. Does he think I’m a rookie?

“Which way do you suggest we go?” I asked.

“If we are trying to get to the lake then the best way would be to go wherever the kobolds are coming from. But if we want to leave and exit the dungeon then we go back to where we came from,” he explained quickly while I was releasing the barrier field spell.

As soon as it’s released we both kill the remaining kobold before he knew what was going on with both of our weapons chopping him and mangling his body. His death screams were louder than I liked and filled the cavern. He even sounds like a yippy sounding kind of animal.

“This way,” the dwarf gestured, motioning for me to follow him.

Turns out he’s better at combat than I realized, but he’s not as good as that greedy pig Svinn, who is now probably hanging out at my hovel wondering where my women are.

We find another group of kobolds that were still getting organized and picking up their weapons in the next room. But even without weapons their nails and long enough to act as slashing weapons.

Gyle stabbed the one closest to the door before it could get its weapon up. At the same time I chopped one with my axe between the shoulder and neck sending it to a slow death of bleeding to death.

There were twelve kobolds here. Now there are ten. It will be a tough fight. They are glaring back at me with cunning and intelligence.

Gyle blocks three quick attacks, and then stabs one of them in the leg. While he’s trying to cover us I let loose another starry missile spell burst, which killed two of the weaker looking kobolds; one of them was an instant death from two of my magic missiles hitting it, but the other one was only hit in the spine by one of the missiles and now he’s trying to crawl away on his hands and knees to safety away from us.

“Nice work!” Gyle said, while blocking more attacks.

But soon we’ll be overwhelmed by kobolds that have just picked up their weapons. With a lifetime of murder you don’t expect them to be as weak as mice do you? They all make up for their lack of size and strength with clever team feinting and luring while another would sneak in from behind.

If you know to watch for it you can avoid it, but even I had some trouble. They have some pre-set patterns. There’s even a double lure. They know some people will see through their feint and ambush. So to compensate, now they have a feint, feint, ambush maneuver. Then there’s also the feint, feint, double ambush, or feint, double ambush.

Clever. And murderous.

I smashed my axe through a kobold spear thrust destroying the weapon entirely and the axe bites into the wielder’s ribcage. Seven of them left.

But now Gyle’s runic shielding is getting shredded quickly as like four of them are ganging up on him with sparks and slashes flashing off the shield from their clawed attacks. I’m lucky I’ve worked up the defense of the shielding, and because of it he’s staying alive but now he’s on the ground about to be dog piled and overrun.

I recast the shielding on him, and then burned another starry missile spell sending all three magic missiles into the toughest looking kobold. He’s the lieutenant of this group it seems. It was the right thing to do, and now the kobolds are scared to death. They are screaming in fear to run away.

They turn and abandon Gyle, seeing they haven’t hurt him and are running away down another tunnel that seems to go deeper and lower than the others.

Gyle is huffing and sweating badly as he pulls himself to his feet trying to catch his breath. “There, that tunnel they just fled into is the one we want to go in. I can smell the heavy water content in the air coming from it too. Plus it’s deeper and has a downward angle. We want to go that way.”

Water content is good. The original goal was to find some lake of endless fish. Maybe we’re getting close?

He doesn’t bother to dust himself off and charges down the tunnel. He’s freaking crazy.

Does he understand, I’m not invincible? I’m concerned he’s overthinking my abilities.

“Stop!” I cried after him trying to slow him down.

I can’t abandon him but his boldness is terrifying. Who knows what’s down here? What if it’s not only kobolds, and a few goblin advisors?

We find ourselves in the next room before I can stop him.

“Wait!” I called out again.

But it’s too late.

He’s pulled us into another much bigger room.

“Fudge,” he cursed.

This one is a whole village’s worth of kobolds in ratty teepees made out of human skin and other animals furs sewn together. There must be like a hundred kobolds here in about thirty teepees of various sorts strewn about a whole plain that is bordering an underground creek.

“Wow, a whole village!” he breathes in surprise.

You mean a whole village staring at you because you charged forward, you idiot. The glare of my light spell is pretty obvious in a big cavern like this. It’s like holding up a big ‘Eat Me’ sign.

He doesn’t stop though and cuts down the first goblin sentry. Damn dwarf. Who the hell takes on a whole village?

Wait, what? That’s weird though.

Goblin sentries over a kobold village? What the hell? Does that mean the kobolds are in bondage to the goblins? Or is it some team up concept to kill the human scum? Did they overpower the village’s leaders and replace them with one of their shamans? Or just have a really good salesmanship for we can do this?

The other goblin sentry gets in a few slashes onto the runic shielding protecting Gyle before I can bury my star missiles into him.

Now both sentries are down but the kobolds are sending out an alert cry throughout the camp. I can see smaller and thinner kobolds trying to hide kobold children in their teepees while the bigger kobolds are mustering for war and getting their weapons, which are mostly spears and short stabbing weapons.

We’re lucky that not many of them have darts or bows.  

But there are other sentries too. Each direction and approach has its own sentries. So now the sentries from the East facing are running towards us, which is the South facing. We also have a group running towards us from the South West direction.

I can do this. It’s just like training with Sunghee and Fox right?

I hit the East sentries with energy star missiles while approaching. They are about a hundred feet out and I’m able to squeeze off three rounds while the dwarf tries to provide cover. The sentries from the East outnumber us by a lot though.

Who knows why, but only having two sentries on the South was only because they had huge numbers guarding the East and Southwest. But the Southwest group has to slow down a lot because they are running from downhill upwards towards us on the high ground.

I’ve immediately taken down like five guards, and wounded three others, but there are twenty total. Now they are using a slow approach of trying to crawl and use cover to approach us by dodging. Magic isn’t that easy to dodge though it’s not impossible.

“Hurry! They are closing from the Southwest too,” the dwarf barked.

The kobolds trying to wound us get a surprise when their thrown rocks and javelins are bouncing of the runic shielding. I had to also reinforce Gyle’s shielding with the protection from normal missiles spell though, but it helps hold it into place.

His crossbow is helping us keep up now, though I’m overpowering him even. He clips two kobolds with bolts to the chest that go down and don’t come up, and is now reloading.

But then I had to reverse direction and hit the group behind us with energy missiles. It’s really beautiful the way the energy star missiles curve through the air almost like how a left-handed pitcher seems to bend through the air before veering in at the target at the last second. I hit three of them, but they aren’t dead but clutching burning holes in their guts as they cower for cover.

The others are trying to surge past them until my next volley. This time also I purposely concentrated on three different targets to slow them down.

They buckle behind cover and cease approaching but are using rocks for cover.

Gyle has to split targeting with me. It seems that when I concentrate on one group, then the other group on the other side of us tries to surge forward. We have very little time before they will be upon us.

I was able to try to chain cast the next two volleys together. I can’t’ do it every cast, but every now and then I’m able to speed cast the next volley. These two volleys hit one after another and we’ve gotten another group of kobolds to fall to the ground wounded. They can’t immediately charge forward when their wounded. But because I was speed casting those two volleys together they all go to the same side.

The next group of kobolds on the east side of us are crippled; with only a handful of them left to challenge us. Some of them are in so much anguish that they are dropping their weapons and wailing in agony.

The dwarf uses his crossbow to finish those two off remaining that were about to challenge us. His crossbow can fire two bolts before reloading? How odd…I didn’t know there was such a thing. But he has twice as much reload time as a normal crossbow to make up for it. And it does look like two shots per reload is the limit.

The side on the east of us is thoroughly broken in spirit with only a few wounded left. They are now running away in fear.  

I wonder if we can get anything for scavenging their weapons? Or will it be like selling scrap metal to a recycler for a few lousy copper?

But there’s that much more to fight on our left.

The kobolds plow into us quickly, trying to bowl over us but the runic shielding prevents us from being dog piled.

Ugh. This is going to be hard.

We’re lucky the shielding works well but it’s hard to fight kobolds that are swarming and these are trained in swarm tactics. They also reinforced themselves somehow from the left.

But that’s when the explosive blast hits, shaking the whole cavern thoroughly and nearly blinding us with brightness and severe heat while we cough up black smoke for the next ten seconds. The kobolds are shaken off us, and badly burned and dying or dead already. The greasy smoke is rolling off us like a sheet blowing in the wind because of the way the cave tunnel air flow works.

We stopped coughing long enough to see we’re kind of in a heavily burned field. It’s very surprising once we stopped coughing our guts out. My skin feels like its raw and tender. I think Gyle is thinking the same thing like we woke up at the top of a hot volcano. We’re also on the ground rolling around to put out the singing little tiny fires all over our clothes.

“I’m alive?!” Gyle exclaimed.

Finally it’s out.

He dusted himself off and gets up at the same time I do. I’m glad I covered my eyes when the heat was hitting us. The heat dissipating is also just like when you’re in the desert and the air gets all wavy from the heat.

“Why’d you do that? It’s not safe for mages to blow themselves up. And if you had a spell like that you should have used it sooner,” he ranted at me still coughing.

“That wasn’t me,” I said, trying to keep the debris out of my eyes.

Was that a real fireball? I mean…to think that it was and it had a pretty good wide area effect hit when it went over us. We’re lucky we’re alive.  I mean not a thrown fireball that hits a person in the face but a real area effect fireball. I’m lucky my runic shielding and energy resistance had been upgraded so much and that’s the only reason we’re not covered in second and third degree burns. We’re both unharmed, but feeling really sunburned; however the runic shielding buffs on both of us are collapsed. I hurriedly put mine up and then his up while still on the ground.

With one eye closed I tried to feel inside my body around the mana core near my heart. Hmm, it feels like I’ve got roughly or around what maybe, seventy percent mana still. This is pretty amazing because in the past getting this far would have cleaned me out with barely a drop left. Of course it’s a rough guess. I could be off by about five or ten percent, since this is imperfect measuring thinking about my own health.

“That’s right. It wasn’t the young mage. It was me,” a confident and commanding and strong voice behind me said.

We look behind us. Seems like the other team has just pulled up behind us; it’s the brown robes guy that I had tried to join his team for earlier, but couldn’t due to it being Moose’s turn to pick. Oh, that’s interesting. They didn’t actually come from the same tunnel we did.

So they might not know how close we are to the exit after all.

The brown robed guy is looking at us harshly rather friendly.

He’s probably wondering how I survived his fire blast. If you look at it from his point of view or his men it was throwing away two lures to get a whole shit ton of kobolds dead; a screwed up triage strategy. And just because he’s a mage doesn’t mean you can always predict how another mage will act or do.

He’s also surrounded by a retinue of fighters; some of them look pretty well armed. His new recruits are all using pikes, which they are using in a line formation. But he also has the experienced fighters with a lot of gear. Of the experienced fighters, each man has a huge backpack full of all kinds of equipment. I can see crossbow bolt quivers strapped to the sides, short swords hanging from the hips, and each carried bucklers which are small enough to be carried with the other gear and switch back and forth.

They favor interchangeable smaller weapons that can work with strong team tactics and switch quickly with low down time.

It’s a good strategy.

Right now a lot of them are currently using spears since with the spears with the bucklers so that they can get a sort of free attack on the kobolds without getting hit. Their spears look pretty bloody, so I can tell they’ve already seen a lot of action. I’m pretty sure it’s kobold blood but can’t be sure.

Is he going to kill us, or help us?

If he’s not happy to see us then…

“Now I’m curious how you resisted my fire blast?” he sounded out to us.

This isn’t a good day at all.

               

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