On level 5 we encountered a grassland filled with insectoids that were a cross between beetles and grasshoppers. Incendio worked quite well against them.
Level 6 saw us facing a swarm of overgrown snakes. Easy pickings. Arya broke her staff though, whilst thrashing the ground around a particularly agile snake.
Level 7 pitted us against cute but annoying hummingbird-like monsters. Ironically, they gave us more trouble than the vipers. Julie was down to half her arrows.
When we found the gorilla type monsters on level 8, it almost felt too easy. Sure they were a bit more intelligent. Yes, they ambushed and swarmed us every now and then. But it was all for naught. Taro's sword broke in this level and he got reluctant experience in using a short-sword.
Nothing but smooth sailing all these levels. I didn't invest time in any more experiments. We barely took any naps on the bridges. Somewhere along the way, Carol had lost another dagger.
Our merry band of test subjects had become a monster-slaying juggernaut, nigh unstoppable.
Now we stood in front of the entrance to level 9. While recent victories ingrained a dash of vanity in our steps, our close call in the last boss battle tempered our hubris. I decided to do a quick check on my stats and attributes.
'Hmm, numbers are rounding off nicely,' I reflected. 'How about my repository?'
incendio x = (( x.temperature = x.temperature * 2 )) petrificus_totalus x = (( x.temperature = x.temperature / 2 )) identify o = echo o test = i=0; while [ $i -le 255 ]; do echo "$(get_char $i) $(get_time)" >> password_hack | sudo -S echo; done; get_char i = printf "\x$(printf %x $i)" get_time = date +%s%N petrificus_slowly x = while true; do (( x.temperature-- )); done; questlist = (echo "* Increase spell variety\n* Check changes from Class upgrade")
Incendio took 200 MP, while Petrificus took 170; Identify was down to 20. I did not get another chance to cast a curse again after the panther encounter. 'Oh, that's right - I have to write incendio_slowly yet.' "test" and "questlist" were not so useful so far. My range was somewhere around 20 meters. While my spell toolkit was low on variety, that would be remedied in time. I no longer had any lingering regrets of choosing the Mage Class.
My Class-up did have certain effects that I hadn't noticed before. Whilst earlier I could select target ranging from a blade of grass to a big rock, now I could select partial objects as well. Like half a blade of grass or only one side of a rock. I could select my spells to affect a certain body part of the monsters. This precise control also extended to my ability to select a region. Earlier while I tried freezing the ground, I could only guess what area was actually affected, unlike now where I could select it.
As I wondered about this, Julie took a nervous step forward. I shook my head to clear it of protracted thoughts and joined her. Well rested and primed for action, we entered to meet our fate.
¤ ¤ ¤
This arena of level 9 was no bigger than level 0; smaller than that even. Instead of slimes, however, this place was inhabited by a single large being resting right in the center. Its snores lifted what little dirt remained on the ground into the air. Even sleeping, it exuded an attitude of owning this place. Or perhaps uncaring of whoever did.
From afar, it looked like a big ball of fur. We ventured in further guardedly, ready to flee at a moment's notice. Soon the monster came into view.
What looked like a ball of fur turned out to be a creature that had gone extinct from Earth - a freaking mammoth. And it was HUGE!
While we were all in plain sight of the beast, it was still in its merry dreams. Betty hadn't made an announcement yet, so perhaps this time, we could be the predators doing sneak attacks!
Julie was right beside me. She notched her arrow and looked at me. I nodded my head. She took her aim while I looked at others to ensure they were set to retreat. Then I looked at the napping fur ball and waited in anticipation.
whiz The arrow flew. Apparently, Julie used her True Shot Skill, as the head flew true and struck the monstrosity right on its forehead. And tumbled down its tusk. The sloth didn't even twitch.
"Damn, the thing has got some thick skin!" exclaimed Taro. We were losing our stiff demeanor. All our caution seemed wasted.
We were still quite a bit away from the mammoth. In fact, we were much closer to the entrance than it. At a loss for what to do next, I suggested I'd check out magic attack. After Julie, I had the best range. Everyone agreed.
As I tiptoed closer, I truly grasped just how big the monster was. Its tusk was long enough to skewer me straight through. And I was about to rudely wake the behemoth from its peaceful slumber.
Thinking back on my similar encounter with crocs, I gave another thought to what spell I should use. Freezing one wouldn't work, obviously. But the heated one wouldn't affect much either. A curse could work, given enough mana. Unfortunately, I had no good spell against the giant. I decided to just go for a chain of Incendio. But first - "Identify!"
'What in the hell is that name?' I was in disbelief. However, I was not swayed from my goal - the giant loaf mere 20 meters ahead of me granted no such respite.
"Incendio! Incendio! Incendio! Incendio! Incendio! Incendio!" I jabbered. I had used my new Skills to aim right at the eyelid. As soon as the last word escaped my lips, I ran with all my might back to the entrance. My companions had already made themselves scarce.
Just as I reached the entrance, I heard Betty's declaration as her splinter merged with her original: "This is level 9 of the Tutorial Dungeon - Yakawawiak's Pit!"
We watched with abject fascination as the hulking frame lifted off the ground. I had a feeling the beast was staring right at me, with one eye red. I checked my mana points - 400 remaining. So four of the spells hit home. And all they did was give it an itch. This was going to be a difficult fight.
¤ ¤ ¤
"Spells didn't do much damage. Just like the arrow." (Me)
"Yeah. And now it's awake and waiting for us with vengeance. Although, it looks wee dumb." (Carol observed)
"Oh yeah, but it's got a rush Skill like those vipers." (Me)
"Good to know. Identify is quite useful. Wonder if we can get it on upgrade?" (Taro)
"Any ideas on killing it?" (Divin)
"My arrows are no help here. I can probably distract it but that's all." (Julie, slouching)
"I doubt we will win by attacking head-on." (Me)
"Ummm, I think so too. Perhaps we can lay a trap or something?" (Arya)
"A pitfall could work." (Divin)
"Aye, but who's gonna dig such big hole. And I doubt the thing will just let us do whatever." (Carol)
'Ah, so this is how craftsmen could help.' (Me, to myself)
"Assuming we could build a pitfall and lure the thing in, how are we going to kill it? The only weakness seems to be its eyes. I guess its belly could be as well. We gotta trap it upside down or sideways somehow." (Me sharing my train of thought)
"We can dig a pit just enough for its legs. If it works correctly, it will tumble over. As for luring it, it has been eyeballing you ever since it woke up." (Divin, turning to me)
'Does this guy want me dead or something?' "How are we going to dig a pit though?" (Me, parroting Carol)
"I will help you distract it Pat. As for the pit, we've got no choice but to use swords and daggers. Thankfully, the ground is not too hard." (Julie)
"I don't think it will work. Digging a pit with just swords, I mean." (Me)
"Do you have a better plan?" (Divin)
"Hmm no. Guess we can at least try this one." (Me, preparing myself for the worst)
And so Julie and I went inside the pit where the mammoth was waiting for us. I went right, she went left. The beast stood still in the center, but its eyes were tracking me for sure. As I stood about 60 meters away from it, the beast nonchalantly turned its head towards me.
"So it begins," I whispered to myself, primed for flight.