Chapter 014

Into The Black Deep



Deep within a dungeon cave sitting around a fire a group of people eat their dinner, as best they could anyway. Sitting beside Ren as he tried to eat was Clint the self proclaimed cowboy of Flow, currently he was almost head over heels with boisterous laughter over the events of the day.
“Those four try hards were all charging ahead trying to hunt down the first monster.. and.. hahaaa.. and then here we are just trotting along when there’s this crunch and splat.. HAHAAAA.. and he just looks down and apologies to the bug then gets a crummy little ring from it as the first kill prize HAHAHAAAA.” Clint finally falls on his back in a fit of laughter but crawls back upright. “But the real kicker is when that pompous idiot parades himself back into the camp we setup waving around a rusty dagger he got from his first kill thinking it’s the special drop and that it’s got some kind of super secret magic attached to it!! HAHAAAA!”
The rest of Ren’s team was having enough trouble eating their food, but as Clint recounted the event they couldn’t help but burst out in laughter as well, several people shooting out food and drink in the process while others choked on it instead.
It took some time for the group to calm down and Clint finally composed himself enough to eat his own food. “So what did that ring end up being?” He looked to Ren curiously along with the eyes of the rest of his team at the question.
Ren took out the ring and turned it around between his fingers. “Identify.”
Identify Failed


He let out a sigh. “No idea, I must have tried to I.D it a hundred times now but it fails every time.” He brings the ring up for a closer inspection.




Another sigh and he closes the description box to look at the ring. “Guess I’ll have to work on my identify skill more, one thing about it though.” He turns the ring over one edge was flat while the other had small peaks at an even spacing. “It looks more like a little crown than a ring…”
“You killed the king of beetles! HAHAAAAA!” Clint cried out as he fell into another fit of laughter.
Ren slipped the ring away and stood up after finishing his meal, he had to finish checking and repairing the soldier’s equipment for the next day, thankfully they were well organised and once the camp was setup their armor and weapons were laid out neatly for him to inspect, there were only a few pieces that didn’t have a minor enchantment on them as well now, once he was done with making sure all the soldiers equipment was in top condition he settled down on a stone that was reasonably comfortable to sit on before calling out. “Ok, those that need equipment repaired or enchanted and have materials to hand in can come to me now.”
It didn’t take long for almost all the players to line up before Ren, eager to have their equipment repaired. As he repaired and enchanted the players equipment he asked questions about what kinds of monsters they had come across, since he was behind even the soldiers he had no idea what they were facing. it turned out that so far they were encountering giant spiders and bats that were around level 15-20 so they weren’t having any trouble with it yet except for the poison from the spiders.
Among the materials he received from the other players as part of his deal for fixing and enchanting their gear he received mainly monster parts, bat wings, spider fangs, spider silk, poison glands and the occasional rusty piece of equipment such as rusty daggers and small wooden bucklers, out of curiosity he tried equipping one of the bucklers and was surprised to find he could use it. “At least I can use defensive equipment… i might be able to bludgeon a monster with this at least.” He repaired and enchanted the small buckler and slipped it away. Once he finished repairing and enchanting everyone’s equipment the last player to approach was again holding the golden trimmed armor and sword that obviously belonged to Tristan.
“Look, I already told the last person to tell him that if he wants his stuff fixed or enchanted then he’s going to have to come ask me politely himself.” He refused to budge on this, he wouldn’t do anything for Tristan till he came back down to earth some. The player frowned and headed back to Tristan’s group. Ren knew that eventually Tristan would have to come see him himself once his equipment’s durability got low enough.
With everything done Ren headed back to the small fire where his own team was seated and began to pull out the materials and items he’d been given, the monster parts and rusty equipment of course was seen as nothing more than junk items to the other players and would be sold for a few extra coppers so he doubted they minded handing it over for what they were receiving in turn, plus it meant they had more room in their inventory for the good drops they would want to keep. The first thing Ren did was pick up each and every item and use identify on it.
Spider’s Fang


This is the solid fang of a giant spider, some venom still coats it.



Spider Silk


Spider’s silk gathered from a giant spider.



Poison Gland


A poison gland from a giant spider

Poison strength - Weak



Bat Wing


The leathery wing of a giant bat.



The items seemed to have the status of being either a ‘Material’ or an ‘Ingredient’ and the bat wing was both it seemed. “Hmm, I guess materials are for crafting things only and ingredients are for potions and cooking maybe?” Gradually his identify skill increased as he used it on each and every item that he’d received but it still wasn’t enough to ID the ring yet.
Once he finished identifying the junk gear he proceeded to use repair, sharpen and polish on them, the rusty daggers became simple iron daggers, the small cracked bucklers became small wooden bucklers, following that he then enchanted them with minor defense and attack runes, once he was does he wondered if they would at least be worth a silver now instead of only a few coppers.
Stretching and looking around the camp he saw that nearly everyone had logged off to get a bit of rest or take care of other needs while the soldiers slept, a few had been assigned to keep guard around the area in case any monsters came by.
Having lost track of time as he worked on his items there were only a few hours left before the soldiers would rise and pack up camp, instead of logging Ren decided to get some sleep in game since he would get a little bit more rest that way with the time difference.
A nudge to his leg woke Ren up, blinking and rubbing his eyes as they adjusted to the dark gloom of the cave, the soldiers were already packing up and getting ready to continue their march, looking down at Ren was Clint with a grin on his face, waving a bowl of soup before him. “Wakey wakey, if you don’t hurry I’ll have to spoon feed you.” Ren shot up at this and grabbed the bowel to scarf down the now luke warm soup and a piece of bread. Clint chuckled at his sudden reaction before turning and getting his things ready.
As they marched into the deep dark unknown once more Ren had out his book of seals, idly flicking though and looking over the runes Issac had written in for him, there was twenty all up in the book, once for each known 9 elements, one for each of the 8 base stats and 3 enhancement runes, defence, piercing and sharpness.
After having enchanted all the soldiers and most of the other players gear his enchanting had reached Beginner Level 5, and when it did he received a notice that he could now make basic glyphs with 2 runes, looking over his available runes Ren pondered over what the combinations he could make would be, he would have to re-enchant all the soldiers equipment when they made camp again.
As they travelled through the seemingly endless system of caves they were unmistakably heading in a downwards slope, some of the soldiers even commented that they would come out the other side of the world if they kept going deeper causing Ren and a few other players to chuckle.
As they trailed behind the marching soldiers Ren chatted with the rest of his team, trying to get to know them a little, a few weren’t to interested in chatting having only come along to get the enchantments Ren had promised and for the chance to take part in the expedition, a few though were friendly enough.
“Damn man, so you cant even use a dagger? That’s harsh, every class can at least use a dagger.”  Tommy the teams scout was walking along side of Ren and Clint chatting with them.
“I found I can use shields at least so I can probably bash the monsters with it.” Ren tried to look at the brighter side of he could do rather than what he couldn’t.
Tommy chuckled. “Yeah! Go all Captain America on them man!” Ren and Clint both let out a laugh at the comment.
“It’s not that bad I think, I bet I’ll be able to make some awesome stuff once I learn more skills, maybe even make a weapon I can used.”
“What have you trained so far?” Tommy asked, both he and Clint looked at Ren curiously now.
“Ah, not much I think, tailoring, smithing, mining, alchemy, enchanting, repairing… that’s all I’ve tried so far, I’ve only gotten smithing, mining and repair upto intermediate rank as well as a few sub skills, I think they are the ones I’ll use the most when taking on work for other players. I want to learn everything.” He grins.
Clint let out an impressed whistle. “To reach intermediate already in a craft though is impressive, you’re probably the first one to do it, from what I’ve heard not many have taken up the crafting professions and instead go for the classes that will get them out and adventuring, killin monsters and such.
Ren just smiled. “Crafting stuff is fun, I normally would get tired just from trying to lift a hammer let alone make a sword or shield with it aside from that with enchanting and repair I’ll be useful to have in a party when dungeon crawling as well so I’ll still get to go on adventures I figure, I wanted to learn cooking as well before the expedition started but I only had time to learn enchanting.”
“Nice, I hear foods made by someone with the cooking skill gives temporary boosts and that some higher tier foods can even give permanent stat increases. If you make anything like that you gotta send me a message man, I’ll pay whatever you want for it.” Tommy grinned.
Ren grinned back at him. “Sure! Though it’ll probably be a long time before I can make something like that, I’d need the skill to be high enough as well as getting my hands on ingredients to.”
“No worries! I’ll become your supplier once I hit the higher levels.” Tommy grinned again.
Ren smiled. “Thanks! Once I get a steady income from my current skills I’ll be buying a lot of materials and ingredients that I can’t get on my own.”
“That’s settled then, lets add each other to the friends list, if I come across anything rare I’ll let you know.” A window appeared before Ren at Tommy’s words.
Friend Request!

Tommy wants to be your friend




Ren grinned. “Yes!” He smiled at Tommy broadly. “You're my second contact now!"
Clint beside him chuckled. “Oh? I was your first then?"

“Yup” Ren nodded excitedly causing the two to chuckle.
A sudden cry from a nearby cave that split from the main one caught everyone’s attention, as the last of the soldiers were about to pass it a small group of short green skinned monsters came charging out and jumped onto the backs of the soldiers from behind, some wield clubs while others had small makeshift spears and daggers.
“Goblins!” One of the soldiers cried out getting the attention of those nearby who turned and ripped the goblins from the backs of those they had jumped on, tossing them onto the ground or into the cave wall.
“Damn! Guess one of the teams missed this cave or they let them slip past during a fight.” Clint raised his arms and began firing the small bolts from his dual cross bow bracers, the goblins were wearing only tattered cloth with no defence value and became pin cushions quickly under Clint’s volley of shots.
Tommy also equipped his bow and was firing arrows at the small green men as quickly as he could, aiming more for head shots and instant kills while Clint simply fired more haphazardly to overwhelm them with the combined damage of his quick shots.
Both Clint and Tommy had stepped in front of Ren to shield him from any attention, this gave him mixed feelings, he was glad they would protect him but at the same time he was upset that he could not fight with them. The rest of Ren’s team had also leapt into action, charging at the small horde of goblins that poured from the side cave as about twenty of the soldiers that were at the back of the line formed up into two rows of ten, bringing their shields up to form a wall which the goblins pathetically smacked at with their crude weapons and the moment they paused the shields dropped to let the soldiers strike them through with their weapons.
A cry from one of Ren’s team members drew Clint and Tommy’s attention, one of the mages was being surrounded. “Shit, I can’t get a clear shot from here, I’m going closer.” Tommy dashed forward into the mayhem while Clint stayed back to guard Ren still.
“You can go help as well Clint, I’ll be fine.” Ren smiled to Clint who just shook his head.
“No can do, I think you underestimate your value here chief, if you die we may as well pack up and head back, two days without repairs to our gear, a lot of it would break by then leaving us sitting ducks.” Clint booted a goblin that got to close sending it tumbling back before it was filled with bolts.
It wasn’t long before the goblins were killed and everyone started to relax. “That was too many to have been missed by one of the other teams, guess we must have passed them as they explored other connecting caves.” Clint looked to one of the soldiers. “Relay that to the captain, any caves we pass now have not been scouted and may hide ambushes.” The soldier nodded and raced off to the front of the line to give a report to the captain who was already making his way to see what was going on at the back.
The two healers in Ren’s group went about healing the soldiers while the rest of his team sifted through the drops from the goblins, tossing any junk items into a pile for Ren to collect while keeping anything they deemed of value, a few brought some minor magic trinkets to Ren for him to identify, at most they added a few points to various stats which Ren already had the runes for so he didn’t bother using ‘read rune’ on them. He didn’t have time to sort the junk drops though and just piled it into his inventory, thankfully with his larger capacity from being a crafting class his inventory wasn’t even half full yet, though he figured at some point he would probably have to start dropping some things.
As they marched on they had a few more ambushes from the adjoining caves but the soldiers were prepared this time and drove them off easily, they soon reached a wider stretch of cave and decided to setup camp once more, with the ambushes the soldiers were getting tired more quickly and needed to time recover from the minor injuries. Ren approached the captain to inquire about something he noticed.
“Captain can I ask something?” Ren looked up at the heavily armoured man curiosuely.
The captain looked down at him with a stern gaze but slowly it softened. “You’ve been a help with your repairs and enchantments, I’ve no doubt they’ve saved a few of my men’s lives already, I can see what Eric was talking about now, what would you like to know?”
“Well, during one of the fights I noticed one of your men lost his weapon, rather it was knocked from his hand a fair distance away, do they not carry an extra weapon of some type for such moments?”
“Mmph… I can see you point but it’s hard enough for most of them to move with their current gear as is, having them carry another sword or spear would only hinder them more.”
“Umm… well I was thinking, I’ve picked up a lot of daggers from the goblins and such, if I fix them up and enchant them I thought I might be able to hand them out to the soldiers as a kind of back up weapon, it’s only a dagger so it can probably just slip inside their boots or bracers.”
The captain seemed to think for a moment before nodding. “Alright, sounds like a good idea, let me know when you’ve got them ready and I’ll have someone distribute them around to the men.” Ren smiled and nodded before running off, this would help lighten his growing load a little.
In the end it turned out that not just the soldiers took the daggers but also the players thought it was a good idea as well, some though Ren guessed would simply sell the dagger later but he was happy enough to hand them out and take the other junk loot they brought in off their hands.
This time at the camp Ren didn’t have time to fix up and inspect the junk drops he’d collected up as nearly all the soldiers equipment required repair now from the ambushes they’d sustained that day, once the soldiers and players gear was in top shape (he’d noticed that no one brought Tristan’s equipment over this time) he settled down to start experimenting with enchanting glyphs.
He took out a rusty dagger and repaired it before then enchanting it with two fire runes, his guess was that it would combine the effects into a stronger fire damage. “Identify.”
Old Dagger

This old dagger was once in the possession of a goblin until now

A minor glyph has been placed on this dagger by an unknown enchanter



Fire Damage




Ren let out a whoop of glee at the sight. “Yes!” Clint who was curiously watching over his shoulder let out a small impressed whistle.
“That’s a nice enchantment, bit more than double the one you gave me before isn’t it?”
“Yeah!” Ren nodded excitedly. “Once I reached beginner level 5 it said I could make glyphs with two runes, so I guess using two of the same rune in a glyph means double the effect, pass me your cross bows and I’ll upgrade them for you.” Ren grinned up at Clint who was more than happy to hand them over for the offered upgrade. “Same elements as before?” Clint nodded and Ren went to work, using ‘absorb rune’ to remove the runes he’d already placed on the bow bracers and then enchanted them once more with the new glyphs and handed them back.
Clint strapped them back on with a grin. “Very nice, their damage is getting closer to matching my level now.” Ren grinned up at him then blinked as a cough drew his attention, before him lined up was the rest of his team holding their weapons ready to hand over to him with a grin on each of their faces. Clint chuckled and patted Ren’s shoulder before backing off to let him work.
With the increased mana required to make the glyphs Ren was only just able to get his teams gear enchanted before it was time to get some rest, using absorb rune had helped since it replenished some of his mana when used on an enchantment. Other teams had seem him doing the upgrades and tried to get him to upgrade theirs as well but in the end they had to wait till the next day.
As he lay down to sleep Ren took out the small crown like ring and tried to ID it once more now that his skill had gone up but once again it failed. “Guess I probably need to reach intermediate to ID it..” He put the ring away and rolled onto his side, pulling his blanket over himself and closed his eyes.
The next day Talon and his team had decided to stay with the soldiers, or more specifically with Ren, since his new enchantments took more mana he needed more time to regain it to enchant the next item so Talon and his team had voted to stay with the group and get their gear upgraded with stronger enchantments as they walked. Ren didn’t mind really, it gave him something to do as they followed along behind the soldiers.
Talon and his team were the friendliest out of the other teams so far to Ren so it only took the asking to learn about what they’d encountered so far now. It sounded like most the caves simply led to dead ends, the monsters as Ren was already aware had changed from giant spiders and bats to goblins now, Talon had come across a couple of small goblin camps at the end of some of the caves and dealt with them accordingly, what was the most interesting Talon thought was that some of the dead ends came to an end at what seemed to be a bottomless crevasse that seemed to run though the underground alongside the caves they travelled, he’d even dropped a lit torch down but it simply vanished without a sound into the deep.
“Wouldn’t want to fall down there then…” Ren gulped and Talon nodded in agreement and once Talon and his team’s equipment was all repaired and enchanted with Ren’s new glyphs they thanked him and headed off into one of the caves that split off from the main again.
As they continued on Ren began having a few of the soldiers hang back at a time to enchant their equipment as well with the new glyphs as the travelled, thankfully the captain didn’t mind to much as long as it was only a few soldiers at a time that were out of marching order, that and he’d gotten his equipment enchanted first which caused him to receive glares from the soldiers leading him to let them get their gear enchanted as well as they marched.
A few hours later the cave began to get wider and higher and soon they were emerging out onto a plateau of some kind that overlooked the giant chasm that Talon must have been talking about, it must have stretched out before them at least two hundred meters across to the other side and before them was a single path across, a wide stone bridge that stretched across the breach, gods only knew how it was built there, a crisscross of arches under the bridge held it up and for the most part it looked sturdy.
“Men I’m not taking chances with this thing, split up into groups of five once one lot is across the next can proceed.” The captain called out to the soldiers who seemed relived at the cautionary actions he was taking. Ren also thought that was a good idea.
Already on the other side of the chasm was Sera (The mistress of dance) and her team, seems they had the role of advance scouts this time while the others explored the side caves, it was hard to tell but from a distance they seemed to wave and call out faintly that it was safe to cross.
“Once were across we’ll setup camp and wait for the other teams to catch up, this is the first man made structure we’ve come across down here and I suspect there will be more waiting further in and that means we need to be more careful.” The captain stood at the edge of the bridge and waved the first group to cross.
Understandably the soldiers crossing first were rather nervous but once they found the bridge to be stable they made a quick march across to join the team waiting on the other side, each group of five was taking an equal share of the supplies across with them as well  just in case.
“Big ass bridge in the middle of an even bigger ass canyon deep underground, thing just cries out ‘event’ don’t it.” Tommy stood at the edge of the seemingly bottomless crevice and unceremoniously spat over the edge, watching the glob of spit fall down and vanish into the dark.
“You’ll jinx it Tommy.” Clint commented as he also was gazing over the edge into the great black beyond.
It was a slow but gradual progress as the soldiers crossed in their small groups, the last ones making it across leaving only the captain and Ren and his team. “Ok you lot, who’s going first?” The captain asked when suddenly a roar echoed from cave which they’d come from. The scuffle of boots hitting the ground as well as cries and yells followed the roar, Ren’s team drew their weapons ready to face whatever was coming.
“What did I tell you?” Tommy called out.
From the cave burst out two of the other teams they didn’t stop as the captain called out and just dashed across the bridge in a hurry, yelling at Ren’s team to run.
“That can’t be good.” Clint commented.
The next to burst from the shadows was Tristan, his team was know where to be seen though, behind him instead lumbered a massive obese ogre wielding a massive wooden club the size of a small tree.
“Ok time to run!” Tommy instantly began to follow the other two teams as they ran across the bridge, followed quickly by the captain and the rest of Ren’s team.
Though Ren had raised his stats quiet well for his level he was still lacking when compared to the others, their speed letting them break away from him with a sizable gap that only increased as they ran. By the time Ren was half way across the bridge both Tristan and the ogre thundered up behind him, the others were already across and preparing to retaliate under the captains commands.
The bridge shook with each heavy step the ogre made, cracks were appearing along the stone paving and bit by bit small pieces began to dislodge and fall down into the deep black that waited below. “Leg it Ren! The bridge is gonna fall!” Tommy called out.
“Oof!” Something barged into Ren’s side causing him to trip and tumble along the ground, only briefly did he spot Tristan with a smirk on his lips as he passed by. He tried to scramble up onto his feet but was met with a firm kick from the ogre’s foot sending him sprawling forward onto his back. The hit had taken nearly all his HP in one go and he was stunned to boot, all he could do was look up and watch as the ogre lifted its giant club ready to give the final blow.
The bridge let out a loud cracking sound as the stones gave way completely, falling out from under both Ren and the ogre, the ogre letting out a loud roar of frustration and rage as it fell down into the unknown depths followed by Ren who could only close his eyes and pray that Tristan would get what he deserved for causing this.


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