I open my menu again and swipe the pane away to open my map a moment after. Looking at it I come to the realization that, well, it’s no wonder that the adventurers can clear this floor so easily. I mean, they clear all of the floors easily, but this is floor one-hundred. The big one. The floor to end all floors. It’s supposed to be a challenge, right? But what good is a labyrinth if the people you don’t want to go through it have a real-time, aerial map of the place? I stare at the complex geometry that makes up the walls of the maze and see my own marker nested neatly on the side. The shaking of my head isn’t shown to me here apart from my vague reflection in the glass of the menu.
Hmm. So the stairs up here are over… there. Right. I still haven’t found the secret stairs here on this floor, but eh, I guess it’s not that big of a deal right now. I’ll just make my way to the next floor, walk through the goblin outpost and hop down the well. And uh, then just slip past the hungry Hidden-Village slimes once I’ve done all that. It dawns on me how long of a journey that actually is. As a minotaur I vaulted my way up three floors like greased lighting, but I was also a rippling meat tower made of raging muscle. Ladies. As I close the map and start walking down in the direction I need to go, I realize that old Nichy boy is… well, old. Even as a skeleton his joints feel heavy and worn. My pace is very much… geriatric. We won’t make it like this in time before we run smack-dab into the hero-party on our way.
As I think those thoughts my right hand is already up in the air, my fingers working slowly in a complicated pattern they are much too weary to want to enact. Strings seem to spin between them, like thread from a spider. Each one translucent and rippling like the surface of a great river. I realize the little connections are made up entirely of highly concentrated, whistling air which creates a complicated web of multi-directional flow. I open my hand and release the energy, it winds down my body; coiling around these old bones like two winding serpents chasing each other until the energy rests at my feet and I rise a red-caps height into the air. My old boots tip downward, the bottom cuff of my robe swaying around in the wind caused by this new spell. I am levitating. Or is hovering the word? Floating?
Woah, neat. I think I remember wind magic, but it’s been a while for sure.
My body seems to move in the direction I lean towards. My feet held tightly together, I lean forward and feel myself propel straight against the next wall just before me. In the last second I spread my arms out in front of me in an attempt to stop myself. A loud thunk rings out as I smash against the cold stone with my clearly hollow skull, my arms not having sufficed after all. Nobody saw that thankfully I think to myself as I lean back a bit to inch away from the rough surface and then turn left. It takes a little time and a few tries, but I quickly get the hang of the feeling of levitation. If I lean left I fly left, if I lean my body right I fly right and so on, always a foot above the ground. My speed is apparently determined by the angle of my leaning.
Let me be real here guy, it’s a lot of fun. You really should try it sometime when you get the chance.
Like a specter I fly through the labyrinth, passing both skeleton and stones in an instant; the loose sleeves of my robe billowing behind me together with the rest of the rough cloth covering my body. I can’t say for sure, but I feel like I look cool right no-
I hit another wall with my shoulder mid-turn and stumble awkwardly.
Okay, maybe I was a little overconfident there. But we’ll figure it out. It’s significantly faster than walking though, at a gentle lean I am already at a goblins running pace. An inch further and I hit sprint speed. I quickly make a game out of it, excited to finally have something new to do. I always love it when I can fly, guy. Granted levitation isn’t quite flying but… but there’s something satisfying about it. Something fun. I go as fast as I can; it’s not like I can feel pain, right? So I zip through the corridors, stopping occasionally to open my map again before taking part of my next air-bound sprint with a smile across my skull. Well, not really. You can’t smile without muscles, but I bet you can really see the joy in my eyes!
Wait. Ah, nevermind.
I slide around the last corner and look at the real staircase just ahead of me past the opening, past the old skeleton battleground. Dashing forward at top speed I brace for impact as I suspect I am about to smash into the stairs. Thankfully however the wind cushion beneath me seems to adjust automatically and I fly up them like, well, uh, if you’ll pardon the expression - the wind. It doesn’t take long for me to soar up the length of the flight. As I do so, my gestalt sailing up over the dark staircase, I can’t help but think how comfortable a way to travel this is. It’s just as fast as sprinting, probably a lot faster, but I don’t get all sweaty and gross. So that’s nice.
Not two minutes after starting down below, I see the light of the above shine down towards me; the flickering lights of the Goblin-King's palace. This time there are no confused goblins staring down towards me, I suppose this body is much quieter as well. A moment later I breach through, my form sailing up and out of the hole from the momentum like that of an arch-bishop flung out from hell itself. Vivid orange hues surround me together with many surprised, garbled goblin shouts. As I sail up through the air I take a moment to look around the Goblin-King’s arena. His throne is still empty, the big guy isn’t here again. What’s up with that I wonder as I slowly hover back downward and turn to face back forward. Some people just don’t have any work ethic I suppose.
Already around me I can see the few goblin stewards who stayed remaining inside of the palace look at me in a mixture of shock and confusion. They seem to be unsure of what exactly it is they should be doing when a skeleton comes whizzing by them at breakneck speed and I guess I can’t blame them. A moment later however I am out the door and skid to a halt, sliding somewhat as my momentum breaks and my feet return to the ground, the spell literally dissipating in the nick of time. Stumbling forward I manage to just catch myself on the edge of the familiar well. Looking around I see a swarm of goblin faces peering over towards me from the bridges and towers, none of them whistle this time. Rude. I spare them a friendly wave before launching myself over the tiny wall, falling down into the water below with a splash.
My robe heavy and wet now drags me down deeper together with the weight of my impact into the blue. Reaching the near bottom of the well, I pull the hidden lever and wait. Thankfully I don’t need to hold my breath this time. Casually as I wait, I think about all the dust and grime floating off of my old bones. Hope nobody drinks anything else from here today. Sure enough the opposite wall rumbles, a vibration shooting out through the water and through my bones and I awkwardly swim-walk through the gap. Swim-walk is a new term I am dubbing because, well, skeletons sink so I can’t swim really. But I know how to. So I’m just kind of… walking down on the surface with my arms moving like I am swimming. I bet it looks weird, but I feel a little faster moving like this.
Still in a hurry I grab the ledge on the other side and pull myself up and out of the water. Instinctively I yearn to take a deep breath at this point once I resurface, but then I realize that well, you know, skeleton. I look around the dark room before me, already I can hear the wet slopping and plopping of the glippity-gloppity slimes hipping and hopping towards me. This time however, there is no faint blue glow in the distance to guide me through the room, plants are random each time after all, so I instead opt to make my own. Light. Not plants. With my right hand I renew my levitation buff, with my left I draw in a pool of mana to form a radiantly glowing fire that fills the space around me with a bright light.
The reflection of many bouncing multicolored forms heading my way shines out not far before me. Zipping past them with ease I swing through their multitudes and grab hold of the small nook in the wall, pulling myself up and around to the very first secret stairs I had ever found and rise up them once more. The poor little slimes never had a chance to catch me. Sorry sister.
As you have seen guy, scholars are a weird offshoot class of adventurer. I can use basically any type of magic to a moderately advanced level apparently. Jack of all trades, masters of none. But that’s what you need to be if you want to bring up young adventurers in this world. It’s a rough place out there and they all have so many different interests behind their bright eyes. Ah.
I still remember the day I met him. The hero with the lance.