chapter 291 – the surface is just so draining

Damn … I  need some mana.

After running around the surface, we’ve managed to find a whole heap of nothin’. Ruined buildings, burned out farms and abandoned homes. All the while my core is leaking mana into the air. Checking my MP told me that I still had around half of my full tank, but I’m a little nervous about that. If we keep pushing forward then I’m going to reach the point that I’ll need to find some Dungeon access in order to recharge my batteries since I won’t be able to make it back to the nest before I run dry.

He’s being stoic about it, but I can see the drain has taken a toll on my big ape associate as well. At the same stage of evolution as me, but with a smaller core, Tiny is nonetheless experiencing a bit of drain. He hasn’t told me as such, but the expression on his face, tense but puzzled, as if pooping out an orifice that he didn’t know existed and couldn’t quite find, has given the game away.

No Tiny, that isn’t a waste product, that is your literal life energy being sucked out of your core!

Gah! This whole thing has given me a headache. It wasn’t long ago that I was a lifeform that didn’t require a mana infused gem within their body in order to sustain themselves. Heck, when I was born onto Pangera, I didn’t have a core at all! Now look at me, filled to the brim with mana and dependent on it like some sort of junky.

With great power comes great … addiction? I didn’t think it would ever come to this, back when I was fresh and new to the Dungeon, staring at glowing blue veins on the wall and wondering what it was all about, but now I want my fix!

Gimme’ dat mana!

Even my legs are providing precious little relief here on the surface. No matter how much I try to soak mana through my legs I’m getting vapour at best.

I sighed. All I can do is press forward, particularly now. A few hours ago we picked up the trail of a pack of monsters and since then Morrelia has been following them like a demon possessed crazy person. Her hands are tight around the hilts of her swords, only to let go when she realised what she’d  done. A little later her hands were back on those swords, knuckles white.

That is one angry berserker.

I have a suspicion that things are going to get nasty soon. For the last hour we’ve been on the road, in a literal sense. After first coming across the tracks amongst the trees and farmland, we followed them, well, Morrelia followed them, the monsters in the group can’t track for nards, until we hit a flat dirt road and have been following it since. The road had the appearance of being well maintained, so I expect that somewhere at the end of this is going to be a sizeable community, a town or small city, and considering a somewhat large force of monsters is heading that way (judging by the tracks), I feel something is about to go down.

It’s going down for real!

[You sensing anything up ahead, Crinis?]

[I don’t, Master. My ability to sense mana is far more limited in range that your eyesight. I think I will be much more useful in the confines of the Dungeon] she responded, somewhat despondent.

Only allowed on
[Out here in the open you might struggle, but inside a city you’d be much better off] I comforted her, [each of us had our strengths, not to worry.]

She didn’t respond but I sensed a more cheerful mentality radiating from the softball on my back. Such a well-meaning horrific dealer of death.

[I think there might be a fight ahead, Tiny. Stay alert.]

The ape looked more cheerful in an instant. Damnable ape! I wanted you to be wary, and on your toes! Not happy and ready to run to your stupid death!

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No helping it, I’ve known what Tiny is like for a long time now, he’s not happy unless embroiled in a brutal fight to the death, the more risk to himself the happier he gets. Only a miracle has kept him alive this long. I need to find a healer to join in my retinue of pets, otherwise I doubt he’ll continue to survive. He doesn’t have any built in healing and his toughness isn’t as high as I’d like. He’s a glass cannon is what he is, all brawn, no brain and not enough HP.

You’re a worry Tiny, no doubt about it.

The object of my frustration continues to bounce on his heels as we walk, throwing compact punches at the air, a wide grin stretched from bat ear to bat ear. Hopeless.

Oh? What is that I see?

In the distance I noticed a grey smudge on the horizon and as we travelled it grew into a city wall when we were close enough for my ant eyes to  make out the details. With haste I threw together a mind bridge to chat with Morrelia. She would be sure to know something about this place.

[Hey] a classic lead in.


[Hey!] second times the charm.


[Heeeeeeeey!] this time, for sure.

[Would you shut up!? I’m trying to focus!]

Holy moly! Seems like I poked a bear… I should take the hint and leave her alone.

[s-sorry. Just wanted to ask a question.]


[Do you know anything about the town up ahead?]


[It’d be great if we had a little more information is all…]

[GAH! Stupid ant! What do you want?!]

Along with her ferocious mental sending, Morrelia rounded on me, the barely controlled rage in her eyes seared me with intense heat.

[Hey there, just, like, chill for a second. All friends here, right?] I shrank back from her glare as I spoke and Crinis, sensing my distress, began to extend a few warning tentacles toward the enraged mercenary.

With a visible effort, Morrelia choked down her anger and when she spoke her mental voice sounded tight with the strain. For a berserk to keep her emotions in check must be quite the taxing exercise.

[Is your class actually Berserker? Because that would awesome] I blurted out.

A thick vein began to throb on her temple and I hurried to move on.

[Ah, ok. Just wanted some information about what I suspect is a town up ahead. We’ve tracked some monsters here, I can see what looks like a town wall, it only follows that we can expect some monsters fighting up ahead, possibly against some survivors, I was hoping to learn what you planned to do?]

I spoke quickly to try and squeeze out my query before this enraged lady drew her weapons and cut me down where I stand. For her part, Morrelia blinked as my torrent of words smashed into her head. When I finished she managed to keep a grip on her temper long enough to sate my curiosity.

[What you’ve said is correct. The town ahead is called Midum. It’s a fair size trading hub with a garrison and city wall. Since the monsters we’ve been tracking are headed this way I believe the city may still stand or is currently under attack. I’ve been trying to maintain the correct emotional state to enter into my Berserk Rage, a feature of my Berserk Tempest class, at the first sighting of the enemy. Anything else?] she answered my questions in clipped tones, making it clear her emotions were still at a steady boil under the surface.

[All good. Just, ah, don’t try and kill us when you go all angry.]

A tight smile is all I get in response as she goes back to ‘maintaining the correct mental state’. I don’t begrudge her testy attitude at all, since the closer we came to the city, the more clear it became that it was at least partially on fire.

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