After walking for close to three hours, he had noticed a stronger light shining around a corner. He pressed himself against the wall. The bolts around him conformed to avoid touching. Silently he peered out.
7 goblins huddled around a fire eating...well, Rainer decided to ignore what they were eating for now. An occasional guttural voice leaked out. It seemed to form a language though up until a message appeared in the bottom right, Rainer couldn’t be sure it had any logical form.
[Skill Gained: Muknar Language lvl 1/10]
The message accompanied a small burst of information. It was like he knew it all along. Of course, the amount of information likely equaled someone who watched subtitled anime for years, tried to watch it without any subtitles and then, only catching a few scattered/common vocabulary plus context clues, realized years of their life had amounted to little more than any other consumer of media.
Hesitantly, Rainer placed 3 skill points into it. He already knew he couldn’t learn it with sleep learning and it wasn’t like they were going to teach him. It cost 1 point to raise to level 2, and another 2 points to raise to level 3. Now, it felt like an elementary school student's level of knowledge. He began catching their conversation.
“Why Grum long. Grum slow.”
“Even Magpie long. Magpie slow.”
The one who seemed to be the leader of the group as well as the only goblin that wasn’t level 1 called out. He wanted another goblin to go next.
Rather what the fuck? It's been who knows how many hours and they don’t think something is wrong? Maybe they just don’t care?
[Goblin, Male, Warrior Lvl 3]
“Pigtongue you go next. Find good ore place, good Be’tar Huktar get.”
Judging by the strange laughs that followed he assumed Be’tar was slang for a female, probably similar to bitch, though he hadn’t recognized the word until now. The thought of said female combined with the content of their current meal set a deep revulsion in Rainer’s stomach. Huktar, he didn’t know, but the context made it seem like a race. He understood enough about the language to make this prediction even if his vocabulary was lacking.
Rainer needed to act now while they were all sitting and distracted. If he surprised them, getting off another 2 bolts after and finishing off all 7 wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility. Just as he moved to turn the corner, he stuttered his steps for a second. Guilt racked him for a moment. In the first place, the earlier two goblins appeared mindless, yet these ones clearly had a language.
Am I killing...people?
But one reminder of what they were eating was enough to push down any guilt, for now. He was, however, a firm believer in the survival of the fittest. Raising and breeding pigs may be no different, logically speaking, than what these goblins were doing with the possible human they were eating. To eat meat in any capacity was to Rainer no different, not that he refrained from that, though of course the thought of someone eating a human still displeased him.
He was human after all.
But the stutter in his step had caused him to move around the corner ever so slightly. The merry goblins became alerted.
The leader instantly stood up, grabbing his club and screaming out, before rushing towards Rainer at a speed far greater than any of the previous goblins. His metal boots making sparks at his speed.
Rainer was unable to even react before the goblin was in front of him, but he was saved by all four of his armed [Arcane Bolt]s firing off at once. They obliterated the goblin leader in front of him. An arm tore off the goblin, his head became partially caved in from the sheer force of the bolts and he was catapulted straight past the fire that was cooking their meal.
The remaining 6 of the goblins were shocked for a moment before they ran completely in the other direction screaming the Muknar word for mage.
Reacting slowly, but quick enough to still be within range, Rainer fired off [Arcane Bolt]s towards them, managing to hit and kill three before the rest fled around the corner. Even though the attack was “successful” Rainer paled at what could have been. If the bolts hadn’t automatically fired in time, death. If the goblins attacked instead of fled he wouldn’t have returned to reality quick enough to kill more than 1 or 2, death. And what was the reality? The fact they’d likely come back with an army.
The general shortness of the tunnels in height gave some relief. At least nothing big could come for him. Though that hope was shot down by the idea of some sort of troll crawling on all fours and chasing him down like a rabid animal. Now that, was unpleasant.
Collecting himself Rainer took a quick look at the messages that appeared before casting [Arcane Bolt Armament] another four times. His mana lowered to 4 from 11(13).
[16% experience gained]
[5% experience gained]
[5% experience gained]
[5% experience gained]
He managed to get an entire 16% added on from killing this level three goblin. Whether it was the class the goblin had or the level, Rainer didn’t know. The other goblins originally sitting with the leader were all Level 1 and their class was listed as none. It seemed even without a class everyone was simply level 1 rather than a 0.
Looking at the direction the goblins fled, Rainer had no intentions of pursuing. Even if he could sprint at full speed for several minutes, what did it matter? He might not even come close.
Rainer looked at the corpse of the person he killed. Hideous and grotesque it was. It hadn’t been much better even before he caused such damage. He didn’t know if he could continue doing this and still remain the same. Did he even want to keep his past self? Would humans be just as easy to kill now? Was he on the path to becoming such an individual? Even now his happiness with the experience gain exceeded the weight of taking that goblin’s life.
He sighed, understanding that no matter what guilt he had or decision he came to he still valued his life more than anything else. He headed in the direction that the goblins had run to - not, however, before noticing the lack of a ceiling above his head. The night sky was clearly visible shining down where the still burning fire pit roasted whatever poor individual had become the goblin’s meal. Rainer didn’t have the heart to look, staring instead at the 2 bright moons shining down. The walls were far too high to climb reaching a height of 5 or more stories.
One moon shone with a slight gold tint while the other glistened with a violet blue. Both gently blended in amidst the stars in the sky.
I’m really not on Earth anymore, am I?
Rainer walked forward and was soon met with another dilemma, a split in the tunnels. 6 different tunnels appeared and almost all showed clear signs of recent travels. One did not and made the choice for him obvious.
His mana was low after arming another 4 [Arcane Bolts], as well as the 3 he shot off towards the fleeing goblins, so meeting anyone anytime soon wasn’t a part of the plan. At least if they came back here to search for him they’d struggle as well. Or not. A dog of any variety and likely some monstrous version these goblins might have could track him quite easily. Even a complete idiot would notice his steps in a formerly unvisited tunnel.
So his lack of mana made time a priority. He could try to level a melee combat ability with sleep learning but it wouldn’t be the same as before. While training for 8 hours straight, if he could even sleep that long, was impressive, it stayed well within the realms of possibilities for a melee combatant. Especially normal for someone of say, level 10.
Rainer noticed that the path in front of him gently sloped upwards. He knew not what that could mean. He could be getting closer to an exit, a dead end, or even deeper in the mine. If the mine was a mountain, he’d only be heading deeper into that mountain. If it was underground he may be reaching towards an exit, but the lack of traffic could mean it was a dead end. Or a place even these monsters feared to tread…
Yet he carried his feet forward. The fear of death from the return of even more goblins or whoever their master was, constantly filled his thoughts. He figured they had a master from how they didn’t seem intelligent enough to properly conduct a mining operation. They were searching for ores. Such a goal made their desires clear.
The path in front of him gradually felt as if it was getting steeper and seemed to snake in a spiral formation with a few cornered tunnels. He wasn’t exactly an expert on mine construction so what did this mean? He hadn’t a clue. Even if he did, this was a mine within a fantasy world. The original constructors could be avoiding who knows what, or even worse, a who.
After what felt like nearly an hour of walking, Rainer finally began to see a light coming from the top. Reaching a second wind from the prospect of freedom he rushed forward, forgetting the fact that at night the light wouldn’t be so bright or so resembling of fire. He gazed into a well-constructed room lit by a strange light. He was behind a boarded up doorway peeking in towards said room.
The room engaged him to the point where all his previous fears and troubles took a back seat. A mage’s experiment room. There was no doubt about that. While he didn't understand their purpose he could see several objects in the room that had the magic language inscribed within them. Scrolls lined the far wall and what looked to be a staff leaned against the desk. The room itself was lit by a glowing orange orb hanging from the ceiling. All these enchantments and uses of the magic language Rainer had never seen before. Notes were also sprawled all over the desk giving a chaotic feeling similar to Rainer's own room for magic.
He appraised a few of the objects that interested him.
[Enchanted Oak Staff: When magic is channeled through this staff effectiveness increases by 5 intelligence.]
[Scroll of Fireball: Upon injection of mana releases a fireball at desired target.]
[Enchanted FlameLit Orb: Radiates a light similar to a natural fire.]
[Skill Gained: Faaran Runic Language: Lvl 3/10]
The message that had just appeared confirmed his original thought on skills that were knowledge based. They would rise to whatever level they were prior to coming here.
So Faaran Runic language this place call it? The 3 makes sense. The only thing I can understand about the runes in the room is a couple of symbols relating to mana flow. The actual running of the tool? Clueless. I’ve never even seen a magic tool, who knew runes could be used in such a way.
Thinking about using a bolt to break down the obstacle in front of him, Rainer stepped back before he heard yelling and someone entering the room. He regretfully ordered his armed bolts to dissipate and crouched down.
“You damned thing, you’ll give me what I want or you’ll wish to be given back to your captors.”
It seemed whoever that dark voice belonged to spoke the same Muknar language as the goblins. It was more reminiscent of an actual language. It seemed the growling version belonged to the voices of those lesser goblins rather than as a method of speaking it.
“No please, Luna will do, Luna will do, please don’t send Luna back.”
A sweet but panicked voice in the same language responded. The voice seemed a bit too quiet. And the sight entering Rainer’s vision would explain that.
Carried into the room was a tattered and injured figure of resplendent beauty. She had long brown hair that reached to her waist and green crystal clear eyes. Yet the injuries on her were truly severe. She wore a slightly tattered green dress with burn marks all over her.
Yet amid all this what truly was angered Rainer were her wings. They were heavily damaged and even with that damage their radiant blue luminance shone through. She had four in total in a similar pattern to butterfly wings but instead with pointed forms and a small bone-like structure reminiscent of bat wings. At least that would be original appearance. Now they were pointed in strange directions and one even hung loosely. He couldn’t even imagine the pain of having one’s appendages in such a state.
The goblin, some sort of shaman-like figure, carried her within a small cage only a foot in height. She herself was not even 6 inches tall; an equally small piece of rope tied to her leg connected her to the cage.
“Gihihihi, good, good. Wait here quietly and I’ll return shortly. I expect you to make good on your side of the bargain little fairy.”
“Luna will...Luna will…”
Rainer had previously still held some guilt over the deaths he caused even after seeing what exactly the goblins had been eating. Yet now that guilt was gone. Such torture went beyond simple survival of the fittest. Even if they were humans he might not have felt any different.
Waiting a few minutes after the goblin had left and painfully listening to the sounds of the fairy sobbing, Rainer tried to construct another variation of an [Arcane Bolt] in order to, as quietly as possible, get through the boarded up doorway. He had no idea how far the mage went or even if there were guards outside of the door the mage entered from.
He had 8 mana to work with. At worst he’d save 2 mana to blow up the boards directly and just run with her. Oddly he couldn’t sense any sort of barrier or see any runic defenses, though that could simply be a difference between their abilities. At very least he would try. Frankly put, the goblin had little to actually defend against within this mine if it was as Rainer thought that goblins covered the entirety of it. Adding on that the goblin simply left his staff in this room meant he had little reason to be cautious.
He cast an [Arcane Bolt] and kept it within his palm. With a slow pace, he began moving it to the tip of his fingers. He wasn’t sure if it would even create a blade and actually cut. The very nature of the [Arcane Bolt] spell that he knew was to self-contain the arcane energy and only release its true nature upon impact. He may just be creating a melee range bolt. In other words, useless.
Reaching the end of his hands as if it was being held by the tips of his fingers he tries to flatten out the bolt into the blade pictured in his mind. It was at this point Rainer finally understood what having a level 10 [Arcane Bolt] truly meant. He didn’t only reach the peak of that spell but his control over the arcane energies had reached a point where it was incomparable to before.
The blade flattened and began increasing in length, yet in the end, this blade was still just an oddly shaped bolt. Gently Rainer willed away the containment of the bolt while focusing the rest of his will in keeping the blade intact.
It took everything he had to keep the unrestrained arcane energy in this form. It showed in his constantly decreasing mana and the seemingly desperate attempts in the fluctuating arcane energy to escape his control. The moment he felt he could ease up his focus even a little he acted. Immediately he stabbed the blade into the boards and, no different than as if he was cutting air, he began slicing through the boarded up door to the wonderful appearance of numerous messages.
[New Arcane Spell Gained: Arcane Blade lvl 1/15]
Which solidified the violet arcane blade within his hand and eased up the concentration and mana required.
[Created original tier 2 spell: Rewarding experience, 5 skill points, and the title: Arcane Scholar]
[Experience gained 212%]
[Managing excess experience]
[Arcanist has been leveled up to Lvl 2/25. Standard Attributes have been distributed. 1 Attribute and skill point have been rewarded]
With a fervent haste, as his mana dropped quickly, Rainer left the messages aside. He cut through the boards. Any pieces were carefully stopped from falling and soon he created a hole roughly larger than himself. Rushing straight into the room, he ignored the messages and went to grab everything he needed.