The Reincarnation of Alysara - Chapter 143:
Tanafyam sits atop the tower overlooking the Dungeon Village, a walled settlement defended by thick tree trunks standing side-by-side, partially driven into the ground for stability. Each truck has been shaped on the sides – with one side having a V-shaped groove and the other jutting out in a V to make a connecting joint – and then glued to its neighbors.
There are many buildings to facilitate the village’s own industry, most notably the material processing shops where wood is treated, monster leather cured, and many other things, so most monster materials don’t have to be taken out of the Dungeon to be processed.
The village has grown very rapidly, and even now there’s a new section being walled off to make room for more housing. Monster slayers mingle in the bars and restaurants… and especially the bathhouses. ‘Monster Slayer’ is now an official job, but it is strictly regulated, and all new slayers need to be trained by Esofy and Chyzus’ Combat Academy.
Tana checks his recent level gain, bringing him close to level four hundred; he wants to slay a couple more Heroic monsters to make sure he gets a Grand-tier Class, but if he can slay a boss monster by himself, that may work as well. If he can slay a Grand-tier monster alone, that should be worth Grand-tier for himself.
Alysara’s face flashes through his mind, and he takes out a Dungeon Waystone Key. They’ve found two more, officially, but Tana never reported this one, instead keeping it hidden. They are very rare, and heavily regulated so no one goes off on their own, but Tana needs to do this to become as powerful as he can be.
It’s not just about ‘catching up’ anymore. Alysara has been protecting everybody and carrying all that weight herself; Tana intends to take that burden off her. He will be the one to save everyone from disaster next time so she won’t have to.
Tana stands up, taking a deep breath to steady his nerves as he focuses on the lessons he has learned with his Bond. Fire is a delicate thing to wield; if it rages too much, it consumes everything, but when controlled it can make life thrive. Learning how to control it and incorporate it into his life, just as Aly incorporates beauty into hers, has led to vast growth for his Bond, which now stands at level four hundred sixty-eight.
Having a Bond Class, Tana needs to hold back on his Class levels, but that’s alright; he makes it up with extra training, going out by himself and slaying monsters. Esofy would have a fit if she knew he is doing this, but this is the best way to train.
Tana appears in the desert pyramid next to the Dungeon Waystone and walks deeper into it. Long creatures, like those Eels, lunge at him with fangs bared and dripping with venom. Tana lets himself take the bite, the venom pumping into his veins.
The flame inside him flares up in a rage; it is time for it to destroy.
Tana cleanses himself of the poison and stabs the beast, then cuts it lengthwise. Flames quickly spread over the hissing monster as its vitality is consumed.
The fire inside him grows, turning into an inferno. Tana rushes into the room, life-giving flames covering his body, the monsters hissing and cringing back from the heat radiating off of him. With a burst of speed, Tana cuts several snakes in front of him before another quick dash sends him past the last few snakes in the room. Fire crawls over the monsters, and they hiss and writhe in pain. Tana pays them no heed, moving on to the next room at record speed, letting the vitality-draining flames kill the lesser monsters.
This is his challenge, to clear the entire floor of monsters in a short amount of time. To do that, he needs to rely on damage over time spells and skills, like his now-upgraded [Vicious Flames]. Tana runs through the next room, sending out a wave of fire at the monsters, the [Life Sense] Uloru taught him letting him know where they are in advance.
I need to go faster!
Fire isn’t necessarily fast, which is why he is putting a lot of effort into training his [Agile Movements] to let him become faster. For that reason, he also took up dancing as an art. He is still bad at it, particularly since he’s learning it without the skill, but his dedication to fighting won’t let him give it up.
Tana rushes through room after room, lighting everything alive aflame. Dodging attacks that would seriously injure him if his attention slips for even a moment, Tana feels alive! In every battle, with every group, everything feels methodical and muted. When fighting with others there’s a set plan, a coordinated effort in slaying monsters that makes it easier and safer… but this, this is what it means to fight! The unknown, the danger, it calls to him: the flames inside him feed off of this glorious feeling!
Tana runs into a boss room and, without any attempt to see what it can do, he lunges forward, sending out two waves of flame ahead of him. Before the boss can comprehend what’s happening, three long and deep gashes open up in its flesh, as Tana runs past, cutting its flesh open and spreading flames across its surface.
Before Tana can cut its head off, it thrashes around and sends out a burst of lightning, throwing the flaming teen against the wall. He stands up and grins, the flame inside him raging more and more fiercely. They demand destruction, the flames that purify the world and prepare it for a new life: Tana will slay this monster so he can grow, just as a flame consumes to grow and rage on.
Tana continues trading blows with the slowly-regenerating boss, managing to cut off one of its fangs, then he grasps the fang and rams it into the creature’s eye before cutting off its head.
Trusting his flames to finish the boss off rather than waiting for the kill notification, Tana moves on immediately, blazing his way through room after room until he comes upon another boss. Just like last time, he gets the first strike in, but this time he seeks to train his [Agile Movements] with whirling strikes and dodges. One might say he is dancing with his opponent, each twirl sending out a blade-shaped wave of fire that cuts deeply into the hide of the snake. His footwork is precise, each step accompanied by a slash of his sword and each dodge or parry resulting in a strike against the larger creature.
Tana dashes out of the room even before the snake slumps to the ground, the last of its life burning away. Tana finally stops at the final boss, the floor boss, panting heavily. He has been running almost nonstop for at least half an hour – maybe even a whole hour, he can’t tell – and his lungs burn with the need for air… But if he takes a break now, he won’t be able to make a new record, so with a burst of speed Tana blitzes into the boss room, where a three-headed snake rears back to strike.
However, instead of lunging for bites, it instead breathes out frost and shards of ice with its left head, fires a laser from the middle one and sprays lightning from the open mouth of the right. All three attacks hit Tana, sending him flying into the wall, ice melting in his wounds and a destroyed leg rapidly regrowing.
The inferno inside Tana rages more fiercely than ever before. He stands back up on one leg, waits a moment for his other to reform, and dashes back into the fight, jumping over another laser beam and using his flames to counter the frost breath. Lightning cracks down onto him, but he raises his sword up in front of him like a lightning rod and tanks the attack, healing the damage afterward.
Tana runs forward and slides under a tail swipe, cutting the tail deeply as it passes over him, and grabs onto it with his free hand, using the momentum to flip onto the boss’s neck and stab his sword into the brain of the middle head.
The boss thrashes around, but Tana holds on, spreading his flames over it. He reaches over with his free hand, making sure his sword won’t fall out from the snake’s efforts to throw him off, and grabs one of the eyes, ripping it out of its socket.
The boss hisses in agony as Tana uses the eye socket as a handhold and, with three hacking sword-swings, removes the middle head. Falling to the ground, he takes advantage of the boss’s stunned shock and cuts into its belly, spilling its guts onto the floor.
Snapping out of its shock, the boss bites down on Tana, who raises an arm to block the attack. When the limb gets caught in the snake’s mouth, he simply cuts it off before the snake can toss him around and then hacks again into the midsection of the boss, only managing to cut halfway into it before he is knocked away by its tail.
Tana stands once again, already with a new arm, and charges back into the fray, trading blows and sacrificing limbs if he has to. He jumps, sidesteps, and ducks under attacks, tanking the lightning and countering the frost until eventually manages to decapitate the lightning head. After that it becomes much easier, and he finally cuts the boss in half.
The boss flops around, unable to use the rest of its body as counter mass to keep its head up, but it still fights with every fiber of its being, snapping at Tana who easily jumps onto its head and chops off the third head.
Tana slumps to the ground, his flames dying as the last of the boss’s vitality is drained away. He gasps for air, his chest heaving, lungs begging him to just end it all already. Notifications ring in his mind from the kills and the level gains, but he is too exhausted to even look. He has cleared an entire floor in record time.
A fight like this is thrilling. Esofy puts too much emphasis on not getting hit – which, he admits, has done wonders for his ability to dodge attacks when he needs to – but this primal deathmatch is more to his liking.
After a long rest, and replacing his clothes and armor with spares in his storage ring, Tana teleports back and takes a relaxing bath; any blood and gore has been burned off in the fight, so he doesn’t need to worry about people seeing it.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
With my clone no longer draining my mana, I can train in the Dungeon for a few days… I wonder how it has changed since last time I looked? I also need to study the other Lunaleyan kingdoms; if I am going to be making more trade deals, then I need more ‘gifts’, too… although really those are just a way to demonstrate what we can offer and draw them in for trade.
However, I have a couple of weeks to get all of the gifts made, and I am curious to see the Dungeon now, so that’s what I’m going to do. I send a clone over to the Dungeon as I take my after-work bath – I am a little early, but that’s not too unusual.
Even before entering the Dungeon, I see people going in and out of the entrance, most of whom are wearing coats that they take off after exiting or put on before entering. It’s not something I have put much thought into lately – my clones don’t let me feel temperature – but the hotter climate here means that everywhere else, including the inside of the Dungeon, will feel much colder.
I am surprised to see that the device to let me see into the Dungeon has not been disturbed. I guess most people think that it is supposed to be there… which it is.
Entering the Dungeon, I am greeted with a bustling village, smaller than my home but impressively large considering its age. People walk from vendor to vendor, looking at monster materials for their crafts, but things are rather pricey. The lumber market is thriving since many villages still need to be rebuilt, and it looks like that is the business of the village, selling wood – actual tree-wood rather than not-bamboo – to other places.
The Dungeon Village is built around the Dungeon entrance, and is well-fortified. There is a bathhouse, but I think most people are leaving to use the baths on Temple Island since it’s not that far away.
I wander the market, looking at the various monster materials. Many I am familiar with, monster materials from the dens and ruins in this forest being a large amount of what I see, but I also see some unknown ones, probably from the desert.
I’ll need to examine the other directions before someone wanders into a place like the mountains, with monsters far stronger than we can ever hope to fight against. First, however, I’ll need to talk to Esofy and get the Dungeon Waystone Key so I can attune it to any Waystones I find.
“…In summary: prioritize your own safety, then the safety of your team, then positioning and coordination, then attacking, and lastly killing the monster.” As I approach, I catch the last of Esofy’s lesson.
The monster slayer trainees file out of the room, and I enter after letting them pass.
“Alysara!” Esofy smiles brightly as she sees me. “It’s been a while. Thank you for slaying that Treant; I saw the damage it did, and I’m reasonably certain that people would have died if we’d tried to slay it ourselves.”
I feel my cheeks get a little warm at her compliment.
“N-no problem,” I say, a little flustered. “I had originally planned to just scout it for you, but I realized it was too dangerous.”
Esofy chuckles. “I heard Guklaro was a little ungrateful, but just remember that she isn’t a fighter. She doesn’t know what it’s like to have her life in danger like this. As long as everyone comes out alive, even if the monster isn’t slain, then it’s a win.”
“So, you are continuing to teach others?” It looks like she is dedicated to educating others in combat… although it’s anti-monster combat now, rather than the relatively harmless Kheshamo styles of before.
“Yes, it hasn’t been a long time since we started getting into real fights, and somebody needs to teach others how to survive. One of the major flaws during the first expedition was that we had no idea how to really fight to the death. We haven’t had a single death so far since reopening the Dungeon, due to properly-taught fighting methods. People were thinking that killing the monster and doing damage is the same thing; they mixed up priorities, and that lead to mistakes and people dying. Now it’s safety first and actually killing the monster last, even after doing damage; it’s better to hurt the monster and remain safe than to go for a killing blow and risk dying.” Esofy gathers her lesson notes and puts them in her storage ring while I giggle internally at how easily she slipped into lecture mode.
“It wasn’t just that we had to get stronger and be prepared; we had to learn how to fight monsters, right?” I say, summarizing what Esofy said.
“Exactly,” Esofy nods.
“I see that people are getting materials from the desert too; it’s only a matter of time before they want to explore the known areas.” Esofy makes agreeing noises, so I continue. “I want to map the area out more completely before someone gets into trouble; who knows if there’s another place like the mountains in the south. Where can I get the Waystone Key, so I can attune it to any Waystone I find?”
“We’ve been training scouts to explore those areas; don’t worry about them, we’ve not had any deaths yet and we don’t plan to have them take unnecessary risks. The Waystone Keys are held in a secure chest in my office. I’ll get one for you.” Esofy leads me to her office room.
Esofy unlocks the small and rather unassuming chest and takes out one of two Waystone Keys. She, or someone else, must have found another one.
“While you are mapping out the surrounding areas, can you do something for me?” Esofy asks.
“Sure, what do you need?” I tilt my head quizzically.
“I suspect Tana is sneaking out on her own to fight monsters. It’s very dangerous, and, while I understand her desire to get stronger, she shouldn’t be taking risks like these. I talked with her about it, but she denies it, she’s just not as good at lying as she thinks she is.”
Although Esofy refers to Tana as ‘she’, he is looking increasingly boyish. He’d normally be developing breasts by now, so either he’s a late bloomer or he just won’t; at least he’s got the ‘pretty boy’ look, although he’ll always be a bit odd-looking by Runalymo standards if that’s the case.
A quick check confirms that Tana is in the bathhouse right now, but I guess I can keep an eye on him and see if he sneaks out.
“I can do that.” I agree to Esofy’s request.
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