With another stone shattering roar, Sarah brings the full weight of her body behind a vicious slash of her right forepaw, rending the sorry ghast that had risen in front of her to pieces. Far from her valiant and intimidating voice, her thoughts are rather less impressive.[AHHHHH! I hate these damn things!]
I can totally sympathise.[It’s the way they float right? Sends shivers down my spine.] [And the look in their eyes! It’s so freaky!]
She’s not wrong. The ghasts are beyond even regular demons when it comes to their obsession. Normally the obsessions drive the behaviour of the denizens of the third stratum, but for the ghasts, there is literally nothing else. They are a maddened ball of living energy that contains a single thought, which makes them a little… manic.[Good experience though,] I note. [Even if they don’t leave behind any Biomass.]
It’s an interesting dichotomy, the relatively rich reward in xp as opposed to the total lack of food they leave behind. Since their bodies consist entirely of mana, it’s not like there is anything that could be eaten anyway.
Which leads me down an interesting line of thought. I mean, isn’t my body made of mana? And every other monster for that matter? Born from the Dungeon, it’s not like we were created from anything else. You could make an argument that I came from the Queen who had to sacrifice Biomass to create my egg, but then I could just turn around and say, where did the Queen come from then? She came from mana. I suppose the Dungeon must create the Biomass that makes up our bodies out of mana, meaning they are two distinct substances. I wonder if it’s possible to learn that. Is it possible to learn a mana speciality that will transform the pure energy of the Dungeon directly into Biomass?
That would be pretty nuts if you could do it… You’d be able to create monsters at will. Maybe the reverse is also possible, turning Biomass into mana. If it’s possible at all, I’m sure it’s some high tier nonsense, nothing that I could touch at my current level. I need to keep my mind occupied with the types of magic that I do have access too. Namely, force magic. As we make our way through the tunnels, I rely on this branch of spell exclusively, which limits my input to the fighting but sure as heck contributes to levelling it faster. I’ve already managed to raise it to rank three which is helping to unleash a tiny portion of the mana type’s potential.
This basic spell snaps out of ball of pure kinetic energy. When it hits something, they react much the same as if they’ve been punched. The more mana I pack into it, the harder they get punched. Against the stronger demons, it’s basically just a tickle at this point, they shrug it off, but that certainly isn’t all the tricks that I’ve developed with this mana type. The force spear is an interesting one, the pure lance of kinetic energy acts much like a regular spear would, except its totally invisible of formed entirely out of energy. Not sharp enough to cut through a demon… yet the spell is still useful for slipping damage through narrow windows. Anyone not carefully watching the mana around them could find themselves stabbed awfully fast.
The force domain isn’t too amazing, it acts similarly to the wind domain in a way, but whereas the wind domain rather predictably creates a rotating sphere of wind, the force domain is invisible and exerts a ‘push’, forcing opponents away from me. Useful to keep distance between me and other monsters, but at the level of its current strength, it’ll only really be able to force out much weaker monsters. Something like Grokus would barely notice it at all.
Applying force mana to my mandibles is another thing entirely. The mana has no obvious or flashy effect, but it does allow my jaws to close with even greater force that before, the added kinetic energy really slamming my mandibles together with an amazing CLACK. Anything caught in between is going to be in for a bad day, especially if I activate doom chomp at the same time. Gweheheheh.
As I continue to grind my Skills at play with different abilities the group descends further into the tunnels, trying to sniff out traces of the demons who left Orpule. Despite our best efforts, it’s actually the hatchling who manages to get a sniff of their trail first.
“I think I have something!” she announces to me after we finished off a quick fight against some tier four demons.
“Oh? What have you picked up?”
“My Dungeon Oracle is picking up some strange whispers. Give me a minute.”
“How does that thing even work? Does Gandalf talk to you or something?”
“Stop stinking the place up! I’m trying to think.”
“Some tier six demons came through this place. They were headed… that way!”
“I… I can’t be sure. More than five.”
We need to be careful. If we assume that in our previous encounters with demons, they were taking us lightly, as Al suggested, then we can’t act as if every fight against a group of tier sixes is going to end up as an easy stomp. If they take us seriously, then things should be much more difficult than before. Tier sixes are capable of all sorts of shenanigans after all, I should know! This is why we brought Sarah along, also so she get some experience fighting against third stratum opponents.
“So, how does the Dungeon Oracle work anyway?”
“It’s… a little hard to explain. It’s kind of like a whisper, straight into my mind. I ‘hear’ little snippets of information, or I sense things that might have happened in the past. Usually all of pertaining to monsters who were spawned or move through the area, or about the flow and movement of mana.”
“Strange,” I muse. “So, you get a little window into the past? But only in the realm of information that the Dungeon itself can provide?”
“In a way. I don’t fully understand it yet myself.”
“Aright. We’ll proceed as if your information is correct. Keep your… ear… to the ground but don’t get too far forward. You’re still eminently squishable to monsters around here, so don’t do anything stupid.”
We advance carefully, following the directions of Brilliant and on the way, I try to word Sarah up on what we’re in for.[So, just to be aware, demons are freaking crazy.] [Anthony, I’ve been alive in the Dungeon longer than you have. A lot longer. I’m sure it’s going to be fine.] [I know! I know. You’re the senior in terms of experience in this world…]
Even if she spent a lot of her life in captivity.[… but just be aware that the demons are a little more… out there that the shadow beasts. Tier six demons are sentient remember? It’s a different sort of battle.]
The big bear stumbles for a moment before she recovers her footing.[I almost forgot about that,] she says. [They are intelligent, aren’t they?] [I mean… I’m not sure I’d say intelligent… but they can think for themselves…]