[Vol. 2 pt. 10]
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Both Snow and Elanah are asleep as I keep watch.

They weren’t too happy about that since they wanted to use me as a pillow to sleep on or cuddle with – well, Elanah wasn’t too happy. Snow looked disappointed but agreed to letting me keep watch. Anyways, I wanted the peace and quiet since I want to think over everything that I learned and how I could make the most use out of it.

From learning about Elanah’s skills, I discovered that she’s more rounded out than I thought she’d be. I had her down as a sort of specialist in close-ranged fighting with void magic to support her, but she has skills for long-ranged attacks as well. Her Throwing Proficiency and Bow Proficiency are rank seven and five respectively. I’ve never seen her use any sort of ranged attacks before outside of magic, though, so I’m curious about how she got those skills up and why she no longer uses them.

Her Blade Proficiency is rank ten and she’s got three ranks in Sword Proficiency. I’m guessing that she used one of the proofs she got with me from killing the tenth floor’s boss in acquiring that skill since it would be higher if she’s had it for longer. She’s also got Dual Wield up to rank seven. Now that is a skill that she should really focus on getting to ten as soon as possible. With the Sword Proficiency skill specialization, she’ll have the requirements met to unlock Bladedancing once Dual Wield hits ten.

And since she knows void magic… she could get the Arcane Bladedancer title. I’ve got to admit that I was always jealous of the rare bastards with that title. Having swords skills like that while supporting them with magic can get crazy. She’ll have access to learning all the crazy skills attached to Bladedancing and void magic. Though, of the one Arcane Bladedancer I’ve met and the others that I’ve heard of, the sort of magic that they use is usually attached to weapon-enhancing magic – things likes covering their weapons in flames or electricity, wind to make them faster, earth to make them heavier, and other spells like that.

Elanah doesn’t have any spells like that. She’s got Void Missile at rank six, Voidal Collapse at rank four, and Void Blast at rank two.

I’ve never seen her use Void Blast before, but I have seen somebody else use it before.

I can’t blame Elanah for not increasing its rank more.

Despite being—from my understanding—one of the basic spells of void magic… the spell is damn destructive and comes with a lot of drawbacks. It’s just not worth using unless you don’t mind losing your mind and losing yourself to the void.

In fact, given that her wisdom and intelligence are as low as they are, it wouldn’t surprise me if using that spell is responsible for fucking her head up.

I don’t think just being half abyssal can justify how crazy she gets over me.

Anyways, the spell could become worth using if she increases those attributes or finds some other way to increase her magic defense, but it’s not worth using as she is right now.

I wonder if there’s a weapon enhancement spell for void magic users. I’ve never heard of one before, but void magic users tend not to have the brightest minds.

If we could find somebody else with a spell to enhance weapons, though, then she might be able to learn from them and copy it with her own magic.

Then we just have to hope that it won’t wreck her mind trying to use it.

Damn am I glad to know magic that doesn’t fuck my head up.

Wait.

Why am I worrying about her finding weapon-enhancement spells when I’ve got hellfire magic?

could learn those spells!

If I do, I’ll be able to coat my sword in fire magic – hellfire magic.

Then I’ll be fighting with both magic and weapons at once. Right now, I’m kind of limited to one or the other.

Well, my fangs count as natural weapons, but I mean fighting with both magic and a sword at once.

I would look pretty badass that way.

A puppy with a flaming sword held in my mouth.

Seriously badass.

Though, I’d look even more badass if I evolved again into something bigger and better than a puppy. Sure, a puppy might be badass with a flaming sword, but something like a wolf with a flaming sword would be even cooler.

I want a flaming sword now.

I wonder… since it’s still my turn to sleep after they’re done sleeping, I’ll be able to restore my mana and be ready for fighting tomorrow.

Alright.

Time to experiment.

I’ll just hold my sword in my mouth and…

Now what?

Alright, what if I try to use Fire Bite while holding it?

“Fire Bite!” I bark.

Flames fill my mouth and surround the sword’s handle… but that’s it.

I don’t want to make the bone of a handle all brittly or anything, so I shake the flames away.

Next will be the blade itself.

Setting the sword down, I pick it back up by carefully placing the blade into my mouth. It’s lined with metal, so the bone will be protected from my fire.

“Fire Bite!”

Flames fill my mouth once again and brush against the mithril edge of the blade.

But…

All it’s doing is heating the metal up.

Alright. That’s two tests that are failures.

Or what if they’re not failures? What if I just have to keep on doing it and then I’ll unlock a skill?

“Fire Bite!”

“Fire Bite!”

“Fire Bite!”

And with that, I’m almost out of mana.

For nothing.

I didn’t even get to increase Fire Bite’s rank at all since I wasn’t really using it. Just like how randomly swinging a sword around in the air isn’t going to increase Sword Proficiency, using Fire Bite only to fill my mouth with fire and not actually biting anything isn’t going to increase the skill’s ranks.

Well, that was disappointing.

How am I supposed to do this? I know for a fact that it be done, but how do people learn new spells?

Why couldn’t I have had the forethought to ask people about how they learn and use magic back when I was a human who didn’t have any? Why couldn’t I have predicted that I was going to turn into a puppy that evolves to have fire magic?

Of course I wasn’t going to think of any of that! There was no way I could have predicted any of this happening, so why the fuck am I cursing myself now for not thinking of it before?!

Damn it. All I want to do is set my sword on fire with magic.

Is there anything else that I can try?

Maybe if I stare at it really hard and think about lighting it on fire.

Light on fire. Light on fire. Light on fire. Magic, light on fire. Fire sword. Fire sword. Magic fire sword. Fire magic sword. Sword fire magic. Sword magic fire. Fire. Fire. Catch on fire. Get covered in flames. Fire. Sword. Magical fire sword. Fiery magic sword. Sword of fire. Sword of magical fire. Magical sword of fire.

Yeah, that’s not working.

Can I remember what the skill was called? I’ve been around people before who could use it, but can I remember what it was actually called?

I know it’s going to have the word ‘fire’ in it, but what else?

Enhance?

Fire Enhance?

Fire Enhancement?

Fire Enchantment?

Enchant Fire?

Enhance Fire?

If I could remember the name of the skill then that could help me learn it, maybe, but I don’t remember.

Damn it.

There’s only one more thing that I can think of trying…

Maybe focusing on it so hard wasn’t the right choice.

Instead, I’ll pick the sword up normally and clear my mind.

Instead of thinking about it, I’ll just try to feel it.

Damn it, you stupid sword! Catch on fire!

No, wait.

I can’t call you a stupid sword. I’m sorry. You’re a wonderful sword made out of a delicious bone. Bones are never stupid.

Alright. My final experiment was a failure and I’ve apologized to my bone sword by licking it and now by chewing on it.

Well, it might not have been a complete failure. I did feel… something. There was a warmth inside of me that I could feel, but I don’t feel it anymore.

What if I try to chase that feeling?

One more time.

Nothing.

I couldn’t even feel that warmth again. Maybe I was trying too hard to feel it and didn’t have my mind properly cleared… or something.

Not knowing how magic works is annoying now that I actually have some magic to make use of.

I’ll just have to worry about it some other time. Maybe one of the girls will be able to tell me something when they wake up.

For now… they should be safe here by themselves and there is something else that I want to do.

I’m going to go sneaking around, stalk some monsters, and find more traps.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll kill something if there’s an easy opportunity.

 

A few hours later and it’s probably about time to head back to the gathering zone. I managed to get Sneaking and Stalking up a rank each and Trap Detection up two more ranks.

There weren’t any good monsters for me to easily handle on my own, though, so I didn’t get to kill anything.

And now I’m pretty tired.

Yeah, I’ll head back to the girls, wake one of them up, and take her place sleeping.

“Damn it!” a man shouts, though I don’t know where from.

I guess somebody else is down here.

He sounded like he’s in trouble, so he should probably keep his voice down. That’s only going to attract even more trouble.

Monsters, people who prey on the weak – well, I guess those are rare nowadays, but they still exist if Elanah was originally targeted by a couple of them.

Even I’ve taken advantage of people in shitty situations before.

Letting somebody get killed by a monster so that the monster is distracted by eating them, or injured from the fight and weak enough to easily kill on my own, looting their corpse after they and the monster were killed…

“Hey! Where’d you guys go?!” the man shouts again.

I can hear metal clanging metal.

He must be fighting.

And close.

Going by what he just shouted, he’s either lost or abandoned.

“I need you guys!” he shouts.

He sounds like the perfect target for the old me.

But I’m not the old, human me anymore.

Instead of taking advantage of him, I should just walk away and… wouldn’t leaving him on his own when he’s in trouble be just as taking advantage of him? Yeah, the old me would kill and take advantage of the weak, but the old me also let them die if they were stupid enough to get in over their heads. I never had a problem letting people die in the tower before. Screams for help, begging for mercy against monsters around the corner – none of it phased me before.

“I won’t let you kill me!” he shouts.

Maybe he’ll be fine if I leave him on his own.

Or maybe…

Damn it!

 

“Damn you!” the man shouts, raising his shield to defend against a goblin who just jumped out from the shadows in front of him.

Two more goblins are dead near him. One is on the ground with the upper half of its head sliced off and the other is behind the attacking goblin with a sword ran through its chest.

The man’s sword.

All he has left is his shield and there’s no way to get his sword without going through the goblin relentlessly attacking him.

Some of his armor has already been cut through, too. Part of his arm has an exposed cut already turning black from the poison coating the goblin’s dagger.

The goblin jumps up and slashes its dagger at his neck, almost managing to cut him before getting knocked away by the shield.

But bashing a monster with a shield isn’t going to be that effective. It might do a little damage and stun them a bit, but nothing more.

“Where’d you go now?” the man asks in a low voice now that the goblin has disappeared into the shadows again.

He’s smart enough to keep on spinning around to keep an eye out for whatever shadow the goblin might pop out of, but… just as he turns around again, the goblin jumps out from the shadows to attack him.

[Tower Shadowstrike Goblin took 29 damage!]

And there goes the bastard’s left arm, its dagger with it.

The goblin turns around to look me in the eyes before I—

[Tower Shadowstrike Goblin slain!]

—slice its throat open.

This bastard is lucky that I was able to get to him in time. That attack would have been enough to end the battle.

“There you… are?” the man says, turning to look down at me and the slain goblin. “Wait, what? Did you… kill it?”

At least he’s not immediately getting defensive and trying to kill me.

Though, he is slowly walking backward toward his sword, so he’s not stupid.

I put my sword down, keeping it close enough to easily pick it back up in case he tries anything, and nod.

“You can understand me?” he asks.

I nod again.

“You must be an abnormal. A… friendly ab—no, wait. That cuff around your neck is like a collar. Are you a tamed monster?”

It’s going to be easier for myself if I just nod my head and let him think that.

“Did you get lost, too?” he asks, kneeling down after sheathing his sword.

He got trusting real quick after letting him think that I’m a tamed monster.

I shake my head.

“No? You’re just… walking around on your own?”

Nod.

“Then… you came over here to help me?”

I look away.

Yeah, I fucking did, but it’s not something I want to admit to.

I don’t know why I don’t want to admit to it, either.

It doesn’t make any sense. Shouldn’t I feel proud that I saved some random nobody from a monster trying to kill him?

No.

All I can remember is how we killed Peter and Saylee.

This bastard kind of reminds me of them.

“Thanks either way,” he says. “We got ambushed by a patrol and there were too many of them. I told them I’d hold the line, but when I looked behind me, the others were gone. I… don’t want to believe that they abandoned me, but I can’t blame them too much if they did.”

Disgusting. He’s one of those self-sacrificing types.

“You didn’t see them on the way over here, did you?”

Shake.

“Dang. Well, I hope that they’re alright,” he says, lifting the metal helmet off of his head.

He’s not too bad looking. Probably a bit more on the cuter side than somebody like Peter or Fane, but he’s got kind eyes and an honest smile.

Guys who look like this are always the easiest to manipulate and deceive.

“Unfortunately, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get out of here,” he says, holding his infected arm.

He unstraps the damaged armor covering it and then rolls up the cut sleeve of his shirt, revealing blackening flesh surrounding where he was cut.

Yeah. His arm is seriously infected right now.

I’m no healer but it’s probably going to need cut off if he doesn’t get healing immediately.

“We had a healer with us, but… you know, the whole being lost thing. No idea where he is now,” he says, his face covered in sweat.

He’s not looking too good.

The more I look at him, the more I’m noticing just how… sickly he’s looking. His skin is pale, his eyes are red, he’s drenched in sweat, and his arm is infected and turning black. Any blood that comes out from the wound is almost black as well and clumpy looking.

This guy is in some serious trouble.

We have a few healing potions, but those are supposed to be for emergencies and are with the girls.

And those would only help him fight the infection from spreading. They wouldn’t cure where it has already spread to.

Wait.

I might be able to tell what kind of venom was on the dagger. If it’s what I think it might be, then…

I check under the goblin’s loincloth and find a small vial almost empty of liquid, but there’s enough left in it for me to tell what it is.

Goblin rot.

There was probably a strong chance of it being that even without confirming it since it’s goblins’ favorite poison to use, but clarifying it is going to keep me from doing something that both of us are really going to regret.

But why am I actually thinking about saving this bastard? He probably doesn’t know what specific race I am, so he shouldn’t know that I’ve got fire magic.

I can walk away right now and he’d never know that I could have helped him.

But I would know.

I know that goblin rot is weak to flames or to anything hot enough, really.

Even if it’s already spreading through his arm, biting the infected areas with Fire Bite should be enough to neutralize the poison.

It should be enough to save him.

But why should I?

Why should I even bother asking why should I when I know that I’m going to do it anyways?

This urge I’ve got doesn’t feel like the one making me suicidal toward strong enough enemies, but it’s still strong.

Two good people already died because of us. Knowing that I can save this guy, that number will increase to three if I don’t do something.

Twenty-nine if I count the innocents dead because of me as a human.

I don’t want to be responsible for another innocent’s death.

Now… I just have to—

“Woofen!” Elanah shouts, running toward us with Snow behind her.

I guess they woke up and noticed I was gone.

“I guess your master found you, Woofen?” the man asks with a smile despite how much pain he must be in right now. “I don’t suppose either of you know healing magic?” he asks them.

“Who’s this?” Elanah asks me, ignoring him.

Damn. I’m starting to feel even worse for him. He’s sick because of this infection and getting ignored when checking to see if they can help.

At least Snow looks a bit worried for him.

Seriously, these girls couldn’t have picked a better time to arrive.

“Snow,” I bark, “tell him that I need to bite his arm with Fire Bite.”

Snow looks into my eyes as if to check if I’m serious before relaying the information to him.

“Tell him that fire will kill the infection. He won’t lose his arm if he lets me bite him. And… check how much health he has,” I bark.

The last thing I want is to accidentally fucking kill him while trying to save him.

“Fire will kill it? I… I’ll trust you. You could have killed me if you wanted to, so there’s no reason for you to lie to me. And my health is at fifty. I also have a few damage reduction skills and the Tank title, so don’t worry about killing me. I can handle a little bite,” he explains.

Alright. If he’s confident that he’ll survive then I’ll be confident, too.

He holds his arm down to me.

This is going to be disgusting. I have to bite into his blackened, infected, bleeding arm.

But I won’t have to worry about getting infected because of the flames, plus I’ve eaten rotten food before with mold and all sorts of sick shit on it.

“Fire Bite.”

I sink my fangs into his infected arm.

We’re not fighting, so no combat window will pop up, but he’s still going to lose health for as long as I’m biting him.

Now, since I won’t be able to use Fire Bite again, I have to hurry up and try to spread the flames to the rest of where the infection has spread to.

Surprisingly, he’s not letting out a single groan of pain. He’s just sitting here, smiling, and holding his noises back.

This bastard might have a cute and naïve look to him, but he’s tough.

I like this guy.

Pulling my mouth away from his arm, the blackened sections of it are all burning. The infection itself is on fire both on the surface of his arm and inside of it.

He has to be in a serious amount of pain right now.

But at least—

[Skill Acquired!

Cleansing Fire |R1|

50 MP

Remove physical diseases, infections, chemicals, and toxins with your flames.

Deal 50% damage enhanced by the fire element.]

Wait.

Seriously?

I learned a new fucking spell from that… but it’s a healing spell instead of one to cover my sword in flames?!

Damn it!

What if I was making progress toward learning the other spell but now have to start over since that progress just got spent on Cleansing Fire?!

I mean, sure, it’s a really fucking useful spell, but – damn it.

I’m supposed to be a thief. Instead, I’m getting tank and healer skills.

I’m so disappointed.

At least that should be enough confirmation that the guy’s arm is healed. I doubt I would have learned a spell like that if I didn’t succeed in killing off the infection.

Wait, will there be a hellfire variant for Cleansing Fire?

Information: Cleansing Hellfire.

[Cleansing Hellfire |R1|

75 MP, 13 SP

Remove physical and magical diseases, infections, chemicals, and toxins with your flames.

Deal 100% damage enhanced by the fire element.]

Hey now, hang on a second.

Seriously?

Removes physical and magical diseases, infections, and toxins?

Seriously?

Removing magical infections and toxins and all of that usually requires some pretty powerful healing. Those people can make serious money by tagging along with adventuring parties for dangerous quests against magic monsters.

And now I can remove those effects all by myself.

Well, healers capable of removing those effects can usually do it without burning their patients. Being able to heal somebody of those effects is great and all… unless you’re in the middle of combat and the only way to heal them is by hurting them even more.

Plus this guy is definitely going to have burn scars on his arm because of me. Cleansing Fire would probably leave scars, too.

And what about Cleansing Hellfire?

That one is probably only safe to use on somebody who has got more than a few ranks of Fire Resistance.

“I’m already feeling better,” the man says with a pained voice, obviously sounding even worse than before. “Thanks.”

He pets my head.

Worth it.

I – I mean, getting that skill is what made healing him worth it.

“So, who is he?” Elanah asks me, not even looking at him.

I sigh and then explain the situation to Snow so that Snow can explain it to Elanah.

“Oh,” Elanah says before finally looking at the guy. “Woofen saved you.”

“Yeah, he did. I’m thankful for him,” the guy says. “I guess you’re his master? Thanks for having such a friendly—”

“No. I’m his fated.”

“A-ah. Alright. Then… you?” he asks Snow.

Snow shakes her head.

“Somebody else then?”

“Woofen doesn’t have a master,” Elanah explains, blowing my cover.

Well, it didn’t matter in the first place.

Now that he knows I lied, he looks into my eyes and… says, “I guess even dogs have their secrets.”

Fuck, I like this guy. He knows when to shut up and stop asking questions.

“I never introduced myself, did I? Sorry. I’m Vysan. Level twenty-three frontliner with the Tank title. Thanks for saving me again… twice,” he says. “I guess I’ll go and look for the others now. They might still be around here and I want to… make sure that,” he’s starting to struggle now, “they are safe. They could have run into a trap or into more… monsters.”

He stands up and is shaking on his feet.

Three.

“Thanks again for the help. I owe you my life, so if I ever see you up above, just…”

Two.

“Just… bark and I’ll treat you to some bones. I have a sister with a dog, too. A girl.”

One.

“I hope all of you are…”

Annnddd….

He falls onto his face.

I saw that coming. The adrenaline must have finally worn off. Plus, between his body trying to fight off a serious infection and then me burning that infection away, his muscles aren’t going to be the only tired parts of his body.

We should probably strip him and check the rest of his body for injuries, too. I’m pretty sure that was the only infected cut he had, but he might still be bleeding from his other injuries.

I already committed myself to saving this bastard, so I might as well go all the fucking way to ensure that he doesn’t die on me now, damn it.

I’m not going to let my attempts go to waste.

This bastard better be seriously grateful the next time he wakes up.

“One of ya carry him back to the gathering zone,” I bark. “And check his body for any bleeding cuts.”

While they do that, I’ll look around a bit more to see if I can find the people he came down here with.

I don’t exactly have much to go off of, but I know one of them will be a male healer. Men being healers isn’t exactly common, so I doubt there’s more than one of them on this floor right now.

Plus this will give me some more time to increase my Sneaking. Maybe Tracking, too, if I can find any tracks to follow.

“We should leave him,” Elanah says, causing me to sigh and turn around to face her. “Wasting time on him won’t help us.”

I’m damn happy that her first encounter with me was with me as a puppy instead of as a human. She’d probably despise everything about me if I was some adult guy instead of a dog.

That really makes me think about how she’ll act around me when I evolve. If I become bigger and then transform with that potion… I’ll probably look older than a brat.

But she said at that first dinner with Zurie that she doesn’t care about any of that for as long as I’m her fated.

But regardless.

“Tell her that it’s an order to take care of him. She doesn’t want my efforts in saving him to be wasted, does she?” I bark at Snow.

Elanah, after hearing Snow’s translation, shakes her head and says, “Sorry! I – I didn’t mean it that way. You’re right, Woofen. I’m sorry for not realizing that it’d be a waste of your efforts to leave him. We’ll make sure that he’s fine and healthy so that you didn’t waste your time on him.”

I think I know how to get Elanah to do anything I want now.

Concept sketch of Snow!

Spoiler

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