The stink of unwashed goblins, blood, and excrement filled Reivyn's nose. He had long gotten used to it, so he wasn't in any danger of getting nauseous, but the same couldn't be said for Larissa.
Reivyn had to step up next to Kimberly to assume a melee role once they split their groups up. He had already conducted a few rounds of combat with Melissa. Everyone had gotten a gauge of how to work well with each other with the exception of Kimberly and Erik both acting as the vanguard together. This would be the final, necessary step in order to tackle the boss room.
Reivyn could hear Larissa huffing and puffing in displeasure behind him as they fought off the goblin horde. He snuck a quick glance behind him to see how well she was doing. She was holding her shirt collar up above her nose in an attempt at anything to stem the strong smells from assaulting her. By the sounds she was making and the frown on her face, Reivyn could tell it wasn't working.
Reivyn continued the almost mindless slaughter of the goblin horde. With his abilities and their lack of any, he didn't have to maintain too much focus on the task at hand in order to perform properly.
He mused on the abilities of the two Casters they had found themselves teamed up with. While they weren't as powerful without pairing up, the two girls were still competent spell casters, and where Melissa lacked in lethality, she made up for in utility.
When he had been paired up with her, she had expertly used her Slick and Ice Wall spells to trip up, cut off, and direct the goblin horde's movements. Barriers of ice had sprung up to separate the enemy into smaller units, and the icy ground caused them to flail about without being able to even build up any momentum in charging them. While Reivyn and Kimberly were able to easily dispatch the units funneled to them, Melissa continued to attack individual goblins with her Ice Bolt spell.
Larissa, on the other hand, was pure destruction. While she couldn't reproduce the rebounding force and shrapnel effect of their combined might, her custom Inferno Blast spell was still plenty lethal. She would accumulate the spell in her hands as they made their way to the open room, and then she would release it into the center of the sleeping goblins. It didn't kill everything, but it did put down over half of them.
Her expenditure in mana in that opening attack was much more than what Melissa would do, though, so she spent the rest of the battles trying to prevent the stink from reaching her.
Reivyn and Kimberly quickly killed the remnants of the room and ended the combat. Larissa didn't even wait to be told as she immediately sprinted several yards away until she could breathe relatively fresher air. Reivyn watched in amusement as she gulped huge breaths to recover.
"You'll get used to it," Reivyn said with a smile.
Larissa gave him a sideways glare.
"I don't want to get used to it! Bleh," she spit. "Why did we have to come all the way out here just to fight some stinking goblins?" Her enthusiasm at encountering the little green critters had quickly waned after a couple of hours in the cave system.
"Yeah, why did you come all the way out here to 'fight some stinking goblins?'" Reivyn asked as they walked down the corridor.
"School credits," Larissa replied. She looked over at Reivyn when there was no response, and the look on his face was one of expecting more of an answer. "We're students of the Magic Academy in the Capital. We can get school credits through 'adventuring' and delving dungeons. We came all the way out here because we can get bonus points."
"Yeah. We can get more points from gaining more Life Experience, and not only does delving a newly established Dungeon grant more LE, but the entire trip out here goes into the calculation. Considering the long trip out here adds more points and isn't just a huge waste of time in itself, my sister proposed to come delve this Dungeon."
"I see," Reivyn said. He would have to pick their brains later about the Magic Academy. It also wouldn't hurt to gain some friends beforehand. Having acquaintances in the Academy and Capital would really make things a lot easier on him in the future.
Now wasn't the time to go into the details of the Academy, though, as they were still in the midst of their delve. Reivyn didn't want to distract Larissa, or her other two companions, from focusing on the task at hand.
"There's something I want to try in the next room," Reivyn said to Larissa. "There's something I've been thinking about for a little while now ever since your sister explained how the System operated the Class Skill Spells, but your sister's affinity isn't quite appropriate for what I want to try out."
"Oh, oh, oh, what do you want to do?" The prospect of doing something different with her mana got Larissa excited again.
"It's nothing much on your part," Reivyn said. Larissa sighed as she calmed down from the cold damper Reivyn had put on the topic. "Your sister said that one of the reasons your Class Spells cost so much less is because the System does the heavy lifting while you guide and fuel it." Larissa nodded at his statement. "Following that line of thinking, I thought that there might be a way for us to combine our mana, and I can guide and fuel your spell.
"Basically, I'm going to coat my sword in pure mana, and I want you to try and ignite the mana with your Inferno Spell and see if I can keep it going independently of you."
"Hmmm..." Larissa tapped her chin in thought. "I think that could work. Everyone in the Magic Academy is a Caster Class, so there's really no option for them to experiment like this, but I'm sure you're not the first one to think of such a thing. Even if we can't get it to work, I'm sure your idea is feasible."
"Yeah, I didn't think I was breaking any new ground here. I'm just trying to learn as many things as I can on my own."
"Alright, let's do it!" Larissa pumped her fist.
Reivyn chuckled at the other's actions. It felt like she was the youngest person on the team, and Reivyn had to constantly remind himself that he was, in fact, the youngest person in the group. Larissa was even older than Kimberly and Teilon. She just has that kind of a personality.
Larissa quickly made her way to Kimberly's side, and the two girls conversed with their heads together as Reivyn led them further into the Dungeon.
Reivyn had decided to conduct his experiment with his sword instead of the spear for a couple of reasons. First, it was a mana sword and would conduct his mana a lot easier than any of his other weapons, and, second, his spear was made of wood and he was afraid it would catch on fire.
There was only one more room for them before they reached the mining room, and since they were going to join back up once more with the other three at that point, this was the last goblin room they had for Reivyn to attempt his idea.
They quickly made their way to their next destination, and after Reivyn silently dispatched the sentry with his sling, they all stopped short in order to try and ignite his mana.
Reivyn concentrated as he sent his mana into the sword. It was indeed very simple for him to conduct his mana through the Mythril core of the sword, but the mana was inside the sword. That wouldn't work for the idea he had, so he concentrated again and expanded the mana to coat the edges of the weapon.
Once he had it, it didn't take too much mana to maintain. Since he wasn't using any elemental mana and he was conducting it through a mana sword, it only cost him two Mana Points per second to hold.
"Alright, I'm ready," Reivyn said.
Larissa frowned at the sword as she activated her Mana Sight and directed her base Inferno Spell into the mana coating the sword. It caught fire and spread to surround the entire sword, and Reivyn could feel the drain on his mana tick up a point as he began fueling the fire.
"Success!" Reivyn exclaimed. Larissa clapped her hands in glee. He hadn't expected it to be so simple and easy, but his joy was quickly cut off as he encountered a different problem.
"Hot, hot, hot!" Reivyn exclaimed. The heat from the Inferno Spell was no joke, even with the small amount being fueled on his sword. Without really thinking about what he was doing, Reivyn threw up a screen of mana infused with the water element. It acted as a heat sink between him and the fire, and he was immediately spared from the heat.
"Whew, that was close," Reivyn said. If he hadn't acted to throw up the thin barrier, he would have had to give up on the mana fueling the Inferno Spell. A blinking light caught his attention, and he quickly pulled up his notifications.
Skills Leveled Up!
New Skill Unlocked!
Interesting. That mana screen counts as its own unique Skill, and the new technique seems to combine easily with my Mana Weapon Skill. That's probably why we succeeded so easily. Reivyn could feel that his ability to maintain the thin Mana Shield got easier once the Skill was unlocked.
"Alright, let me try out the might of this combination," Reivyn said.
He stepped up to the choke point and whistled. There was no reason to wait for the goblins to slowly wake up on their own. That would just deplete more of his mana. Reivyn indicated to Kimberly to wait behind him for now.
Reivyn stood with his shield raised and his sword at the ready. He locked the position of the Mana Shield to rotate around his body but always be between him and the flaming sword. Kimberly and Larissa stayed further away, just at the edge of the heat radiating from the weapon.
The goblins quickly woke up at the intrusion. They shrieked as they massed together and charged toward Reivyn.
Before they even reached halfway to him, Reivyn slashed out with his sword while simultaneously infusing a huge burst of mana into it. With his willpower, he directed the new mana to extend from the tip of his blade, and a huge scythe of fiery death reaped through the goblin horde. All of the goblins hit with the fiery blade were cut in half. The two halves of their bodies were instantly cauterized.
Reivyn released his hold on the mana with surprise. He had instantly slain the entire room full of goblins, but it had come with a price. Fueling the Inferno Spell out to such a reach, plus what was already being used to maintain it, had sucked almost 80% of Reivyn's Mana Points out of him in that brief moment. A splitting headache immediately assaulted him, and he cupped his head in his hands with a groan.
"Wow..." Kimberly was left speechless.
"That was awesome!" Larissa bounced up and down on the balls of her feet. She looked over to Reivyn to congratulate him on his successful use of the combination, but she saw him crouching down in pain. "Oh! That must have cost a lot of mana," she quickly ran over and placed her hands on either side of his head.
Reivyn's head was pounding, and he was barely aware of his surroundings as he tried to focus on recovering from the sudden expenditure of almost all of his mana. Suddenly, he felt a gentle pressure on either side of his temples followed by a warm trickle of mana that immediately caused his headache to recede a considerable amount. It was still there, but it wasn't all-encompassing any longer.
Reivyn took in a deep breath as he straightened up. The headache began to increase in intensity right away, though, and he winced at the discomfort.
"No, no, no," Larissa admonished him. "You're suffering from a backlash of using too much of your mana too fast. As students in the Magic Academy, my sister and I have a lot of experience with such a thing. Crouch back down and let me continue infusing mana.
"While I can't replenish your Mana Points directly, the presence of my mana coursing into your system will alleviate the headache until you regain enough for it to go away on its own."
Reivyn grunted in acknowledgment and quickly squatted back down. Larissa put her hands back on his head and continued to help him get through the backlash. From the sounds of what Larissa said, it would take several minutes for him to recover, so Reivyn pulled up his notifications once again.
Unlock a Class Skill of a different Class!
Through the manipulations of your own mana, you were able to figure out and execute a Class Skill from a different Class as your own!
Class Skill Unlocked!
Flame Blade (10)
Due to the circumstances of unlocking the Class Skill, it is available to you in any Martial or Caster Class, and its base level and growth rate are enhanced.
Reivyn was shocked at the contents of the notification. He didn't know it was possible to acquire other Class Skills.
Since it's possible to acquire other Class's Class Skills, it should be possible to unlock my current Class Skills as permanent, too. But since I already have the System assisting me in doing them, and I don't know how it performs the Skills, how do I go about doing that? Reivyn refocused his mind on the notification as there was more.
Unlock a Class Skill of a higher Tier Class!
Tier 2 Class in Tier 1
Unlocked a Class Skill two Tiers higher than current Tier!
All Stats +3
Nice! This will reduce my Stat requirements even further. Reivyn was ecstatic at the notification. One of the main goals he had set for himself was to not only gain the Mental Stats required to unlock a good Tier 3 Class, but he also needed to accumulate Achievements and Life Experience. He hadn't even been trying to accomplish any kind of special feat with his actions, so this was an unexpected boon.
"Ahem," a cough brought Reivyn out of his thoughts. "What's going on here?"
Reivyn opened his eyes and turned his head to see Melissa standing with her arms folded, glaring at him. He came back to himself and realized that his head was currently being cradled in Larissa's embrace. When did she hug my head to her? I thought she just had her hands alongside my temples. He had been too focused on his notifications and hadn't noticed the change.
Larissa removed her hands and jumped away from Reivyn. "It's not what it looks like!" She waved her hands out in front of her as Melissa tapped her foot on the ground with an eyebrow raised. "He lashed his back, and his points were low mana, and, and..." Larissa was so flustered that she was completely incoherent.
Melissa couldn't hold her stern expression any longer and started laughing at her sister's failed attempts at explaining the situation.
"It's ok," she said while still chuckling. "I could tell what you were doing from the very beginning. It's not the first time I've seen someone treat a backlash from mana expenditure. We felt a huge surge of mana being used over here, so we came to investigate. I put two and two together."
Larissa stomped her foot and thrust her fists down by her side.
"Hmph! You made me feel self-conscious about helping someone." Larissa turned her head to the side and lifted her chin. "I'm not talking to you."
Luckily the increase in his Mental Stats had come with an increase in his Mana Points, so Reivyn's headache reduced to a slight throb on its own, and he no longer needed Larissa's assistance in staving off the pain.
Melissa walked up to Reivyn and put her hand on his forehead while she surveyed the carnage in the room. She infused a trickle of her mana through Reivyn's head as she gave a low whistle at the sight of the bisected goblins.
"Whatever it was you did was sure effective," she said.
"Well, I don't mind telling you," Reivyn said. Melissa looked at him with expectation. "I coated my sword - you'll notice it's a mana sword if you take a look - in pure mana and had your sister ignite it with her Inferno Spell. It worked and I took over-fueling the magic. It wasn't too difficult to maintain at only about 3 Mana Points a second.
"I had to quickly improvise a Mana Shield made of water element to protect myself from the heat, though," he continued with an embarrassed smile. "What really cost a lot of mana was when I decided to see if I could extend the flame blade out past my sword. It drained 80% of my mana in an instant, but you can see for yourself how well it worked."
"Yes, that makes sense. Fusing our mana together will be one of the ways Larissa and I will unlock our Epic Class," Melissa replied.
"I didn't know that," Larissa said as she looked over at her sister. "I only knew we had to train together a lot to learn from one another."
"Well, you just haven't reached that point in your education, yet," Melissa said to her sister with a smile.
"Oh right," Larissa said as she resumed facing the other way with her head tilted up. "I forgot. I'm not talking to you."
Melissa rolled her eyes at her sister's antics.
"Ok, I should be able to recover my mana well enough on the way to the boss room," Reivyn said as he began walking down the hall. They resumed their earlier "formation" with Erik in front, Reivyn walking next to Melissa, and Kimberly and Teilon were inundated by the exuberance from Larissa.
"The next room will be the mine. It will be mostly goblins, but there will be several orc overseers, as well. Following that will be the living quarters of the orcs. With all of us together, I don't see there being any problems. We've all gotten a good look at what everyone is capable of, and the following rooms will be good for Kimberly and Erik to practice their coordination, which will be necessary for the boss room."
"You plan on clearing the boss room?" Melissa asked with some surprise.
"Sure, our combat strength is definitely higher than the requirement to defeat it," Reivyn nodded his head.
"Didn't you have 13 people in your squad when you cleared it?"
"Yeah, but we didn't have magic," Reivyn smiled. "Speaking of, I think I've come up with a good plan for the boss. This is what we'll do..."
Reivyn and his party stood at the entrance to the boss room, performing one final check on all of their gear and making sure they were full on mana. They had gone over the steps they were going to take to defeat the monsters guarding the second floor, and Reivyn was content that everyone knew what their role was.
The Party had made quick work of the preceding rooms. The mining room had been incredibly simple. The goblins were dealt with using a less powerful combination of Ice Tomb and Inferno Blast, and then the orcs had been singled out into one-on-one combat with the use of ice walls erected by Melissa.
None of the orcs, in the mine or any of the living quarters, had been able to put up any kind of sufficient defense against their onslaught, and Kimberly and Erik had learned how to divide up the vanguard position between the two of them in short order.
"Alright," Reivyn said as he looked over the Party. "Everyone knows what to do. This shouldn't be hard, and even if things don't go according to plan, it still shouldn't be hard with the amount of firepower and teamwork we've developed." The rest of the Party members nodded. "Let's go."
There were no inspiring speeches or attempts to improve morale. It wasn't needed. Everyone was in high spirits and confident in their abilities.
Erik and Kimberly led the group forward. They traveled in a double column with Reivyn and Teilon behind the two vanguards, and the two sisters brought up the rear. They were already accumulating their spells between their hands.
A furious roar shook the ceiling, dust falling on the heads of the Party, and a bowed-over ogre, too tall for the headspace available, came charging forth from the darkness, the two orcs holding the chains to its wrists being dragged behind it. It was exactly the same as the other two times Reivyn had been here, and his confidence in the plan soared.
The four people in front of the two sisters abruptly spread apart, allowing a clear line of sight for Melissa. She threw her hands forward, and the ground was covered in ice for a long swathe in front of the ogre, finally popping up in a short wall directly in its path. Its foot slammed into the ice wall, but instead of being built with shrapnel in mind, Melissa had reinforced this one.
The ogre tripped and landed face-first on the icy ground in front of it. Its momentum from the charge carried it sliding towards the Party, the two orcs being slung around like sacks.
Erik and Kimberly stepped forward with their shields raised to engage the two helpless orcs, and Reivyn and Teilon launched their spears in the javelin style at the downed ogre. The spears pierced into the shoulders of the ogre, immobilizing its arms, and it gave a loud, angry shout at the sudden burst of pain.
Teilon took off running in front of Reivyn, and he leaped onto the back of the still sliding ogre, driving his daggers into the small of its back where the kidneys would be located. Reivyn wasn't standing still, either, and he dashed forward and stabbed into the back of its neck, severing its spinal cord.
The ogre's body stiffened as all of its muscled locked at once before it relaxed into death.
Erik and Kimberly, likewise, easily dispatched the orcs that had been dragged along with the ogre. Reivyn looked up, deeper into the room, as he knew it wasn't over yet.
While they were finishing off the ogre, the two Caster sisters hadn't been idle. Melissa had already formed a "\ /" shape with her ice walls to funnel in the remaining orcs that had been waiting just outside the range of the ambient Dungeon lighting, and Reivyn could see the final adversaries already charging towards their doom.
The two sisters had created another Ice Tomb setup, and Reivyn watched as Larissa threw her Inferno Blast into the midst of the screaming orcs. The blast devastated the monsters, but they weren't nearly as weak as their goblin counterparts. Only the orcs in the center that took a direct blast to the face died immediately, but they were all knocked down.
"Let's get in there and finish them off!" Reivyn yelled.
The four melee combatants charged at the struggling orcs. Most of them were dazed and only rolled around on the floor, bleeding, but several that were on the very outskirts of the blast area were attempting to stand up. These were the orcs that were targeted first, and none of them managed to put up a fight.
The boss room was cleared within a minute of the group entering it.
"Hah! Too easy," Reivyn said with a grin. He high-fived Teilon and the three girls shared a joyous hug. Erik maintained his vigil as he stared at everything else around them.
"So," Melissa said as she stepped away from the other two girls and faced Reivyn. "Want to take a peek at the second floor?"