Walking fast through the lower levels of the Undermine, I couldn’t help but marvel at how elegant the architecture had become.
The silver in the walls was integrated into detailed frescoes and used to elevate the art in the high ceilings. I might have thought to take some of the refined ore for myself if it wasn’t for my injury and the purple priests who were watching me.
In the passages or in dimly lit rooms, on their knees or simply standing, the worshipers were immobile and silently staring me down as I walked past them.
I had no doubts that this was meant to intimidate me, but it was still unnerving to think that they were the only conscious beings in my immediate surroundings.
The blessing of that angel isn’t worth a thing… Wasn’t it supposed to give me protection?
I walked for hours holding my broken arm close to my chest and with the feeling that stopping could trigger the silent figures somehow, through the silent Undermine I now knew was the church of an old god.
Heading back to the surface wasn’t complicated since the passages only broke into multiple ones when going in the opposite direction.
My breath stopped making clouds as the temperature rose and the galleries become more and more like those of a mine. Only when I couldn’t see any enemies did I take a moment to make my worst wound more manageable.
Instead of letting it sit in my inventory, I brought out the pickaxe, put it against a wall, and broke its handle with a kick. I then tied it against my forearm using my left hand, my teeth and the coat I had received from Bo to make a makeshift splint. I didn’t have anything to deal with the swelling, but I figured that would be enough until I reached the temple since the bone had thankfully not pierced the skin.
I then opened my inventory and checked the other item I had received from the Custodian.
Ceremonial belt used by young blade dancers of old.
This particular belt was an item Custodian Dylarel took of the cold body of a cherished individual.
It looked like a large rope with wooden aglets at both ends.
Thinking about where they had both been minutes ago, the prayer beads around my neck and the rope filled me with disgust. I’d get them cleaned later, but in the current situation, I needed concrete ways to improve my suitability, which is why I hadn’t used the belt for the splint. I doubted I’d get the bonuses if I used it in a non-orthodox way.
I summoned the item and, with the help of a wall, managed to wrap it around my waist.
Then I was back on my way.
It wasn’t long after that I reached the fourth layer with a sigh of relief. I was quick to get a hold of myself when I heard noises and realized that the rats were still there.
Do these buggers even sleep?
I summoned Ikun Omi and stuck it between my clothes and the belt. I left my hand on the handle, hoping it would work as a deterrent. I didn’t want to have to kill them.
But if these kids were the same I had seen on my way down, then there was no way they would just let me slip past them wounded.
Hell, they probably are waiting for me to come back.
I walked toward their group already feeling regret at what I would have to do.
When the first one saw me she froze. Others followed her gaze, then ran after letting out screams. But instead of running toward me, they surprisingly went in the opposite direction.
For a split second, I thought that they were calling for backup… and maybe they were. But I had not missed the fear in the voices of those who had run and how the rest were wide-eyed and seemed unable to move. Like deer caught in headlights.
I walked past them and they just watched me go without doing anything.
And I was grateful for that.
But I had to figure out the cause. The rats were drugged brats who didn’t even fear being taken by the Undermine. My appearance shouldn’t be worse than that… or at least I hoped it wasn’t.
In any case, it was time to take a look at my status. There wasn’t any reason to avoid being distracted anymore.
Stamina: 585/585 (regen: 5.9/minute)
Mana: 500/500 (regen: 4.2/minute)
Vitality 55 (+3)
Strength 52 (+3)
Constitution 56 (+3)(+10)
Dexterity 38 (+3)
Agility 40 (+3)(+10)
Perception 52 (+3)
Intelligence 42 (+8)
Wisdom 36 (+8)
Tenacity 0 (+3)
Keeper of the First flame 0/100
Left eye of the nameless Djin
Dreadnova Enforcer (3rd gen) – level 16
Machine symbiosis 0/640
Hextech Mana drain
Sharp shooter 0/640
Blade Priest of the Deep – level 8
Shuari Blade Dancer 0/60
Sunken dance [ Intermediate proficiency : 0%]
Priest of the Deep 0/1920
Grasp of the Deep
Unspent Ether: 1198
… Can’t deny that seeing these big numbers feels good, I thought with a shuckle.
It was a shame that I wasn’t able to add any ether to the Shuari Blade Dancer skill tree unless my proficiency was at a hundred percent, but at least I had gotten a skill from it.
In fact, besides the higher values of my attributes, the only difference in my status was the new skill Mindscape Projection. And while I couldn’t exactly understand how it could affect anyone when I was just walking, it had to be a part of the explanation.
Mindscape Projection- Passive
User’s dance meaning affects his surroundings.
Effects increase with dance proficiency, and with strength and clarity of meaning.
Talk about vague.
If the effects of the skill lasted longer than the dance itself, then it might become troublesome. But in any case, that was an issue for later. In the present situation, it had been more gift than curse.
From the fourth layer I got to the third one, and as expected it was empty. I walked past Bo’s spot and saw the impressive extent of his work. Seeing the literal new gallery he had created, I wondered how much money he earned for the ore.
As the elevator was lifting me upward, I caught a glance of two pale people staring at me from the middle of the silent gallery. A familiar miner with an arm over his younger brother’s shoulders.
I knew that there was nothing but dark sand behind their fake smiles. But there a small solace in the knowledge that they would be the last victims of the Custodian.
The second and first layers were just as empty, and with another sigh of relief, I finally put a foot out of the Undermine.
You have left the instant dungeon of the Undermine.
+25 Glory for notable acts.
Notable acts, uh… is that how they are going to call it?
I wasn’t surprised by the fact that there wasn’t anything more. The shocking thing was how truly hard gathering Glory was.
I had only been awarded fifty for slaying Dylarel, and now twenty-five? What had Ardos had to do to gather the two hundred he lost in his attempt to earn the Delver title?
And here I was, with over fifteen hundreds of the stuff.
At least I know one more of the uses of the thing. There are places you can’t enter without enough of it.
Like a security clearance of some sort.
The way to the lift supposed to take me back to the upper levels of Bunker wasn’t an easy one. It was pitch black, which made me strongly think of opening my left eye for some light.
But I my stamina wasn’t really something I could waste, seeing how I’d soon go through the pitch black layers and then have to walk all the way from the mountain to the temple. Anything could happen.
But at least some of my worries appeared to be unfounded. Nothing happened during my ascension through the lower layers, as I was only met with whispers.
It’s when I got to the populated areas that things started getting complicated.
While it was true that I didn’t exactly know my way around town yet, the network of elevators itself was complicated, and I couldn’t find one that went directly to the first layer.
Which meant I had no choice but to hop from one to the next after short walks on the balconies and grit my teeth whenever the starting and stopping motions would shake my hand, managing to make it hurt just a bit more each time.
Now, since it was nighttime, there weren’t as many people on the different balconies of Bunker as I had seen when I was going down. Most of the shops were closed and the merchants gone. But all the people I did meet seemed either terrified or on the verge of attacking me.
They would make way for me before I even got close, and as word spread faster than I could progress, there was soon an air of tension already waiting for me wherever I went.
Combined with the pain I was dealing with, I felt extremely irritable. So I walked a bit faster, not wanting to give anyone an opportunity to make me do something I would probably regret.
Despite all the headache, I finally managed to reach the first layer and headed directly for the exit tunnel. But before I could enter it, an axe flew in front of me and lodged itself in the stone.
“Not so fast kiddo.”
I turned to face two lightly armored smiling idiots coming my way.
I was already noting the best places to plunge Ikun Omi when they abruptly stopped moving. Though they kept smiling, I was starting to get an idea of what was going on.
One of them was a type of demi-human beastkin I hadn’t seen yet, in that he not only had goat horns and ears on his human head but also hooves instead of feet.
“Did you really think you would be able to just leave after being so disrespectful to your elders?” said the other one. Just like Ardos, he was a full tiger beastkin.
“And how have I been disrespectful?”
The young tiger snorted.
“How? You’ve been diffusing your killing intent through every layer of the city. If that’s not a challenge to every warrior, what is? You’re lucky our boss sent us. Seeing how young you are, I won’t kill you for your foolishness.”
Oh? Kill us?
“Hey,” his comrade said. “You can’t see he’s hurt? His anger probably is because of some rat who beat him up. Let’s just bring him to the boss, no need to hurt him more.”
The other one narrowed his eyes and then threw his hands in the air in surrender, “Alright then! You’re even luckier than I thought, kiddo. Follow us, our boss wants to know who is responsible for that bloodlust.”
Now that I knew what was going on, the odd behavior of the passerby made more sense. However, that didn’t make me any more inclined to obey these two fools.
“That’s very thoughtful of you,” I said as calmly as I could. “But this seems to be a misunderstanding. I didn’t even realize I was giving out killing intent until you mentioned it. I have-”
“Listen, kiddo,” the tiger interrupted. “Your circumstances are irrelevant. You’re coming with us.”
I sighed, then locked eyes with him.
“No. I’m not.”
“See?” he said to his friend as he cracked his knuckles. “No respect these days. Try to help them and this is what they-”
It was my turn to interrupt him, but not with words. I drew my sword, and the whistling whispers of Ikun Omi shut him up.
“I don’t want any trouble,” I said. “But if you attack me… You will die.”
“You don’t want any trouble, but you draw your weapon in front of a warrior?” the goat man said in a surprised tone.
“Stay out of this, Dorak,” the tiger said. Then, to my attention, “You’re going to regret this.”
I was between him and his weapon and he was underestimating me, so he would probably go straight to me using his aura.
How strong he truly was, was irrelevant, since he couldn’t expect me to be as fast as I was.
His head would roll.
“Don’t forget Dorak,” I said. “I gave him a chance to walk away but he wanted this. I hope you won’t do the same.”
The boy kicked the ground and was propelled forward as the pieces of rock went into every direction from under him.
He was fast. A bit faster than Ardos was during our spar, even.
He launched a powerful palm strike toward my chest and I watched his eyes grow wide as I simply spun to avoid it and let him fly past me. In the very same movement, my blade came to claim his life.
But there was the resounding sound of steel meeting steel, and I saw with outrage that my sword had been stopped. His friend, having probably realized that something didn’t add up, had come to his rescue and blocked my blade with his own.
I was about to kill both of them when a powerful voice shook the ground.