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83 On the road to the Dungeon

Helial was leading the group through a forest. They had set out as soon as the King gave his permission. The Dungeon was located nearby Orma, but the King had decided to secretly send guards to keep an eye on his pupil and his extraordinary fellows anyway. The armed men kept watch on them in secret. They were at least in the Fifth or Sixth Phase. Someone thought that the King was acting overcautiously. These precautions, however, were but out of the ordinary; it was pretty normal that a promise like Helial was watched over in any possible way. Despite all the meticulously arranged preventive measures though, the guards would only step in if strictly necessary.

Name: Dark Bear Gloves

Type: Skin Protection

Consumption 50/50

Level: 60

Damage: 2-5

Effect: Strength x1.02 (2%)

+15 Vigor

+15 Strength

It surely was no trash, but these gloves he couldn't yet wear didn't draw Helial's attention in the slightest. They were highly refined, made with the leather of wild animals from Orma's surrounding areas. Helial would love to find at least one piece of Equipment with a name; a unique, unreproducible item. But the truth was, it was basically impossible to find any unique First Phase item. Curse of the Demon made the best example for an artifact with a name, but it made a special case too; all in all, it was but an overly ample container that was home to a far too terrifying Devil.

Helial surely didn't expect to put his hands on Equipment of that caliber, but in the past short months he had raised his standards and was more and more difficult to make happy.

Intent on his usual routine, the Devil sneered as he saw Helial's disappointed expression towards its brand-new Equipment. Shithead's reaction was actually relatable, but the Devil could not help but find it hilarious.

"Well, Shithead, I must inform you that putting hands on items with a name will never be easy. You'd better find some expert that forges armors and weapons. You might ask for a favor… let's say a great master blacksmith… or, to keep humble, maybe just an Elementalist. Generally, Elementalists' affinity with the elements makes them suitable blacksmiths too. And as fate would have it you have a pretty skilled Elementalist there. If Frankenstein acquired the secondary Affinity for metal and later for minerals, he might as well become a great blacksmith for all of you."

The Devil never ceased to teach Helial his way around world. Even though he had sworn that he would never help him, no matter how mortal the risk was, he would still share with him every information he had without sparing a teaching.

Helial had noticed the Devil's efforts to help him deepen his knowledge. He was deeply grateful for it. Helial was beginning to think that even wiping out an entire race would make a fair price to be the pupil of that terrifying being. This though didn't mean Helial would willingly wipe out a race just to reach that power. Or would he?

As Helial asked himself about his ethical and moral limits, someone beside him saw it fitting to bring him back to a little more… concrete situation.

"WHEN THE FUCK ARE WE HAVING LUNCH?" the sudden roar almost made the whole group stumble and fall off. They had been travelling in silence, since it was early morning and no one really wished to draw the attention of wild beats before even arriving at the Dungeon.

"Stop the shouting!" cried Lumia.

"WHO'S SHOUTING?!"

"YOU ARE!"

"I AM?!"

"YES, YOU ARE."

Helial looked about himself to spot some sharp tree branch at one side of the trail. Maybe it would work to get his life over with. "We'll reach the Dungeon entry first. It's just a half day walk. Then we'll eat something."

Snowflake snorted: "We are moving so fucking slow. Why doesn't any of you useless shits have a Movement Skill?"

Helial stared blankly. The cat was right; he had no Movement Skill. But he couldn't learn a random one either. Since his master hadn't brought the matter up, it was probably too early for him to acquire it. When was last time Helial had put all his faith in someone's advice? Without even his noticing, Helial's trust in the Devil had become complete.

Being his mind on to something else, Helial didn't quite take notice of this. In a few hours he would enter a Dungeon that would allow him to analyze Runes in more detail and trace items that could let him use them better. This expedition would definitely make him deepen his knowledge about Runes usage. He wanted to go farther than the general notion told him by the Devil, hopefully to catch a glimpse of their very essence.

Unlike Formations, that were created by employing Inscriptions or other items, Runes weren't written down with blood and brushes, but with Mana itself. Runes were therefore more volatile than Formations, that were written with demoniac beasts' blood instead. Runes only catalyzed Mana by employing Mana.

This was also a weakness though; Runes' Mana consumption was heavy. They weren't so practical, especially during a fight. Maybe Helial could use them to amplify his Skills' effects, but he was convinced that, by going deeper in this study, he might find some other hidden benefit.

He studied the creased scroll he had found inside the Merchant Guild in depth. It showed a very peculiar fighting style used by a strong Class, Runic Warriors. A Runic Warrior employed his or her own Mana to lay down Runes all over his or her body. By doing this, Runic Warriors accumulated a great amount of Runes for the long run, so that they could use them when fighting.

But then it all depended on the fight length. The longer the fight, the more a Runic Warrior would be at a disadvantage. Moreover, Runes could only increase certain Skills' and blows' power, since every Rune could always catalyze only one single attack. It was a highly specific weapon indeed.

Up to this point, Helial had grasped it all. Still, he thought that by investigating and exploring the matter deeper, he would find out more. And the Dungeon might be the perfect place to search for that more.

He glanced at Lumia, Frankenstein, Lulu and Snowflake. The Dungeon expecting them was quite a demanding one. Despite them being kind of out of the ordinary practitioners, Lulu and Lumia were still an unknown variable in fights. They never trained together and the thought of group practice had never crossed Helial's mind. He had no clue on his companions' true capabilities.

He only knew he could rely on them, one way or the other. Helial shrugged and said: "When we reach the Dungeon, we'll make up the best formation to gain Experience. I'll be in the forefront along with Snowflake. What about you, Frankenstein?"

Lulu and Lumia had Support Skills, so there was no need to ask them what position they preferred. Helial though had no idea on Frankenstein's fighting style. Technically speaking, Elementalists were best suited for long-range attacks.

"Melee-combat for me too," Frankenstein said. A fanatic smile hang on his face. He had been training hard. When the moment came for him to break free from his low social status, he would be ready. He wouldn't stoop to be kept in the rearguard, so despite Elementalists usually attacked long-ranged, he had developed a new Skill that would let him perform well also in melee-combat. And it was the only Skill Frankenstein had acquired. The one, the good; the Goblin had indeed cultivated it with all his strength, perfecting its every aspect so deeply as to advance in both Level and Knowledge Grade. The Devil had given him the original idea, but then Frankenstein had refined it meticulously. As things stood, Frankenstein doubted that any other Goblin inside Orma's walls had developed such an outstanding Skill as his was.

Lumia, on the other hand, had focused on the Skills she already had. She didn't join their conversation though. She kept quiet and squeezed her brother's arm. Before their departure, the little girl had snagged him to collect the kiss she had won during her entrance test. Helial, however, had been quite reluctant. He wouldn't take his word but… hehe, Lumia would settle it down somehow. The eyes of the silvery-haired girl flashed with wickedness.

Lulu, on the contrary, didn't join their conversation because she was too afraid to. She must prove her worth. Like during the test, when she had showed everyone what she was capable of despite her lack of experience. She clenched her fists. She had trained her Heal Skills very hard, and she was now ready to Support her team with all of her might!

Snowflake clenched his furry paws. He had trained his belly very hard to get to eat like five people at once, and he was now ready to eat their provisions away with all of his might!
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