Editors: Templar, Jack Vanatis,
Author’s notes: Just when you thought it was over, a longer chapter of CotE and even MOAR coming.
Updates in header of chapter 5. Also, updated how the skills are displayed in the player status. Chapter 1 has also been updated, but it is only a visual update. As this is litRPG, consider it a graphics patch!
Chapter 8 – Theore Substructure
Regal’s days at school pass by with a repetition of study and duels. Gradually, the students who were afraid of the pain of being shot or struck by alchemy during duals become more desensitised to it. Their hearts harden and they stop flinching when struck, but a few tears still fall when someone is hit with a critical or a surprising blow that goes beyond what each has already experienced.
The classes have fallen into a consistent pattern after the initial excitement of beginning school. Everyone has finished forming their circles of friends, with a few stragglers not associating with others. The entire student body, however, seems to be split into two factions. Those who think Piora is stronger, and those who favor Hazel. Perhaps the teachers organized it deliberately, but the two queens of the school have not dueled each other once.
Outside of school and interacting with his three Soulless friends, Regal doesn’t waste any time either. With the influx of money from helping Veronica practice her skills, his finances are no longer decreasing but slowly increasing instead. Regal still continues to sell cases of ‘Ice Bullets’ to Aqua at Atelier Gun & Bullet, sometimes even staying at the shop after the transaction because Aqua asks him to stay so she can talk to him.
Visiting the Training Hall every day, Regal practices twice as hard as even the most talented students. After two months of diligently training, his skills are becoming even harder to train with each level, but his understanding has gotten them all up to at least level 6.
Name: Regal Havier Age: 14 Level: 1 Nxt Level: 0% Health: 100/100 Mana: 100/100 Stamina: 50/50 Class: None Str: 10 Dex: 10 Agi: 10 End: 10 Int: 10 Lck: 10 Martial Skills: Combat Knife Proficiency – Lv. 6 () Revolver Proficiency – Lv. 6 (Curve) Alchemy Skills: Flame Forge Alchemy – Lv. 6 (Radiant Flame) Ice Heart Alchemy – Lv. 7 (Ice Bullet) Vigorous Earth Alchemy – Lv. 6 (Stone Skin) Crafting Skills: None Misc Skills: Future Sight - Lv.100 (Foresight) Passive Buffs: ~ +5% Attack Speed
The skills in Regal’s status reveal his Divine Arts as a part of their respective skills. The only exception to this are the Passive Divine Arts. With the exception of any rare Passive Divine Arts relating to the skill itself, they are either automatically added to his stats or displayed as Passive Buffs.
His knowledge of his skills has expanded along with the growth in level. Returning back to his own method of comprehending the alchemical formulae and techniques of the martial skills rather than Veronica’s guidance, the spark of understanding in his mind has grown more vibrant.
Regal also comes to understand the significance of Passive Divine Arts. The five percent attack speed granted by ‘Combat Knife Proficiency’ doesn’t just apply to combat knives, but all weapons. It only has no effect on automatic weapons and alchemy casting speed. If another skill was to have a five percent increase to attack speed, this would be added on top to make the total attack speed increase by ten percent.
The other students in class 4 are still doing better than Regal with the gap widening. Despite his hard work and practice being many times others, he is at the bottom of the class along with the few students who found it boring and have been lacking effort. Most of the students are level 8 or 9 in all four skills granted by the school, some even breaking through the bottleneck and ascending to the second tier at level 10.
At the beginning of the third month of the year, all the students are once more riled up with juvenile excitement. This is because today is the day they will have their first dungeon experience. This event was not originally planned to take place for another three months, but the teachers felt the students were ready to have their first taste of the real world.
All the students of Theore School 116 trail behind the teachers as they leave the School early in the morning. The residents of the city see this procession and turn their heads to look on with interest. It doesn’t take long for them to realize what is happening.
The teachers lead the students to the center of the of Theore’s first floor, where a large clocktower of cold steel, copper, and tungsten alloy stands. This building can be seen from most of the city, so its location is extremely easy to find.
Two bored looking city guards are stationed outside a large double doors leading to the interior of the tower. They aren’t there to prevent any monsters escaping the dungeon, as anybody apart from young children could easily kill them, but to prevent people from entering. This is the lowest level dungeon and is reserved for students’ private use.
“Listen up students,” Mr. Razor stands in front of the gate, ignoring the guards while addressing the small crowd in front of him, “This is the entrance to the dungeon: Theore Substructure. The world outside our city is cruel, the strong standing over the weak. Killing is only forbidden in the city, but not outside of it, or within our dungeons.”
“The schools from the first floor are privileged to use this dungeon, but only one at a time can enter. This is a rule that was created to avoid students excessively fighting with and killing students from other schools. We have reserved the next 24 hours here, so you must make sure you leave before tomorrow morning.”
“Mr. Razor,” a seemingly meek student from Class 1 has a chilling glint in his eyes as he raises his hand to ask, “That wouldn’t stop us from killing each other though, would it?”
Mr. Razor momentarily stares at the student in silence before replying, “No, it does not. But history has proven there is greater enmity among different schools compared to within. Killing still happens within the dungeon, but you will still have to spend time with the rest of the students so I recommend you don’t make too many enemies. We are immortal and grudges can last a long time.”
“Now, before answering any more questions, I will go into the details of this expedition. “This dungeon, Theore Substructure, has three descending levels. Mutated monsters between levels 1 and 3 reside on the first floor, levels 4 and 6 on the second, and levels 7 and 9 on the third. Stay within the first floor today, unless you are looking for death.”
“You can consider this your first trial by fire. It will harden your hearts and you will walk out stronger than you entered. When fighting with your life on the line, comprehension of your skills will increase and you may even have sudden insights if your luck is good.”
“I will advise you just this once to not be reckless and put yourself in more danger than you can handle. You have all experienced what it feels like to be shot or cut with a knife, but none of you know the pain of death. One in five of you will most likely die today, and you will wish to never die again.”
“Now, form into squads of up to six members and head into the dungeon. You can only enter right now, if you die or leave early, you will not be able to re-enter. Make the most of this opportunity; we teachers will see you all tomorrow morning for classes and see the results of today. Make sure to collect the ears of every enemy you kill.”
As Mr. Razor spoke those words, the city guards open the doors with the loud creaking noise of hinges thirsting for fresh oil.
The students immediately become rowdy, hurriedly finding their friends to form their squads. Several people decide to enter alone and refuse all requests to join another squad. Regal, Veronica, Kilde and Astore group together and form a squad with Veronica as the captain. All experience will be automatically shared between the four and they will each have a sense of approximate direction each other is in if they get separated.
Piora’s fiery red hair dances as a light breeze passes by and she approaches the teachers. “Excuse me. If I can get to level 3, would it be safe for me to enter the second floor?”
The seductive Ms. Yatta laughs at this question, before replying, “You will be lucky to reach level 2 today, it isn’t so easy to increase your level. Also, it is recommended you wait until you are level 4 before descending to the next level.”
Not disheartened in the least, Piora thanks the teacher for her advice before returning to her usual spot. Unlike Hazel who has already selected 5 people from the dozens who wanted to be in her squad, Piora’s hasn’t had a single person approach her. She doesn’t ask anyone to be in her squad either. It is like there is an intangible barrier between herself and the people who admire her.
In another section of the students, Veronica is herding the other three Soulless toward the entrance of the clocktower. If they are too slow entering the dungeon, it is likely that at least one of the other squads will lie in ambush to kill them because they are the despised Soulless.
Under her guidance, Regal is mildly surprised with how spacious the interior of the building is. The majority of the structure is hollow, with a single ladder leading up toward a room with the clocks mechatronics and to the roof. Stained glass windows filter light of various colors into the building and create a multi colored spectrum before merging together back into white light.
A large staircase sixty feet wide descends into the bowels of the city and also serves as the dungeon entrance. As Regal and the other three Soulless descend the stairs with the other students, a translucent display appears in front of each and every one of them.
Entering Theore Substructure
Quickly dismissing the message, Regal follows Veronica to the base of the stairs where a large square room one hundred and fifty feet wide and long is revealed. The walls are formed from layers upon layers of copper and steel pipes, with several sections ejecting steam into the room to create a high temperature and humidity. The floor is an isometric grill that rattles noisily under the footsteps of the students.
“Quickly, this way!” Veronica ushers Regal, Kilde, and Astore to follow her and head toward one of the thirty or so passages leading away from the original room.
The four students quickly leave the room while everyone else is still gawking at the dungeon. The paths leading away from the entrance room are different from the first room. They are full of semi-condensed steam that forms a white mist, preventing the students from seeing too far. It is precisely into this mist that Veronica’s squad vanishes into in order to escape any students with malicious intentions.
Walking down the pathway that is a little less than 9 feet wide, there is nothing Regal can do to stop the sound of his footsteps so he remains on alert for any surprise attacks by an enemy, whether it be from a mutated beast or another Immortalis.
Suddenly a piercing screech echoes through the passage, causing Regal and the others to pause. All four of them can deduce that this is the cry of a mutated beast.
“It appears to be quite far off still so it probably doesn’t know we are here yet. We had best keep moving,” Veronica says astutely while quickening the pace, “Astore, Kilde, you two need to be vigilant if that mutated beast or any others approach. I am doing my best to remember the path we are taking.”
“I didn’t think you had the ‘Cartography’ Skill, Veronica?” Astore asks, confused.
“I don’t, but it is useless in here anyway. My father told me a little about the Theore Substructure dungeon and that it changes every day at midnight. Anyone staying overnight will definitely get lost, and any maps drawn become scraps.”
“I see. I didn’t know this dungeon was so peculiar.”
Following Veronica’s lead, the squad comes upon a junction in the path and immediately head down the left pathway. Every part of the passage looks exactly the same due to the steam and the pipe walls. Becoming lost in this dungeon is likely and an extremely easy thing to happen.
Still close to the entrance room, the first enemy appears. With a loud scratching noise of metal on metal and a screech that pierces the ears, a pitch black mutated rat scuttles out of the wall between several pipes thirty feet in front of the squad. Even though Regal has grown three inches in the last three months, the mutant rat stands halfway to his knee and is nearly three feet long when counting the tail.
“It’s a Mutant Rat! I can’t tell what level it is but it shouldn’t be too strong. Draw your guns and attack!”
Veronica, as the squad captain, issues her orders while falling back to the rear with Regal, leaving Astore and Kilde as the front line.
A simple alchemical formulae materializes in front of Veronica’s hand as she casts ‘Chilling Wind’, taking care not to hit Astore and Kilde in the process. The sound of gunfire rings in the pathway as Regal and the two front liners rapidly shoot at the rat. Regal has a bullet case of standard .38 bullets and one for .38 ‘Ice Bullets’ attached to his waist. He is currently only using the standard bullets and saving the more damage inducing ‘Ice Bullets’ in case he come across a stronger monsters.`
The mutant rat doesn’t just let itself be shot, dodging back and forth extremely quickly while approaching the group. Out of ten bullets fired, only two hit the rat. A health bar appears next to the rat after the first one, and shows that each bullet only does about ten percent damage to it.
Astore and Kilde fire directly at where the rat is, but don’t manage to hit it. The enemy is cunning, using feints and dodging to the side while approaching the squad. The squad of Soulless are helpless against its charge as they are incapable of predicting any of the random movements of the rat and keep missing.
Just as the rat reaches nine feet from the squad, Kilde uses his alchemy and creates an ‘Ice Spear’. Firing it at the rat from point blank range, there is no method for the rat to dodge it. The attack removes a large portion of damage to the rat’s health and also sends the enemy nearly back to where it emerged from, giving the rear line time to reload their guns.
Astore and Kilde put away their weapons, drawing ‘Blunt Training Knives’ instead. The rat is quick to react to being knocked back, quickly dashing in a zig zag forward and pouncing at Kilde. Kilde’s combat knife traces an arc through the air as he attempts to ward off the mutant rat, but his attack only glances the black creature before it bites a fist sized chunk from his thigh, causing him to cry out in pain and lose his balance.
Having a section of the body bitten off is much more painful than an instantaneous bullet penetrating through. Despite what appears to be a fatal injury, Kilde only lost 22 health points.
The missing flesh and bone is only superficial and returns moments after the attack. If his whole leg was bitten off, or severed, it would be considered severed by the system and won’t reappear for thirty seconds. An expert gunner can use a high caliber bullet and this method to remove a finger or two from their enemy.
“Astore, cover Kilde. Kilde, quickly recover and engage the mutant rat again. Regal, don’t stop firing!” Veronica commands the three, adequately managing her role as captain.
Regal continues firing haphazardly, every bullet either glancing it or completely missing the monster. Veronica uses a new control skill that Regal had not seen before to momentarily capture the creature in a ball of wind. The effect only continued for two seconds, but Regal was able to take advantage of this and fire two bullets into the rat’s body, bringing it down to a third of its health remaining.
The rat finally sees Regal as a threat and charges at him the moment the wind entrapment dissipates. Regal decides not to use ‘Foresight’, as expending a large amount of mana at the start of the dungeon is unwise.
Simply aiming for the rat, he fires off a bullet at the center of its head, hoping for a critical hit, but the attack is dodged. Without enough time to react, Regal suffers two attacks as the rat’s claws are used in quick succession. He loses 26 health points, just over a quarter of his maximum health.
Kilde and Astore run over with their combat knives while the rat is turning to attack Regal again and successfully stab it in the back. The mutant rat rears up on its hind legs, and screeches of a rage that pierces the fours’ ears and causes their minds to spin, before turning back to the two attackers. Taking advantage of this momentary change in target, Regal and Veronica successfully manage to shoot the rat with the final bullet in each of their revolvers.
The rat keels over, completely dead after the last attack. The body doesn’t disappear, and won’t do so for the next hour. The bodies of all enemies in this world will remain for an hour after death, allowing it to be harvested of meat and skin, and sometimes treasures additional to the standard loot are hidden in their bodies.
Above the mutant rat’s corpse, a window forms where the standard loot of the monster is displayed.
~ Butter Knife ~ Medicinal Herb(Low)
Butter Knife A knife that is better used in the kitchen rather than against monsters. The blade is incomparably blunt and would be better used as a bludgeon. Requirements: ~ Lvl 1 ~ Dex 5 ~ Str 5 Weapon Type: Knife/Single Handed Item Grade: Ordinary Damage: 1 – 3 Durability: 20/20 Abilities: none
Medicinal Herb A herb with a mysterious medicinal property. Consuming it will recover lost health. Quality: Bad Effect: 10hp recovery over 10sec
As Regal took the most damage, he receives the ‘Medicinal Herb’ but instead stores it for a later, more urgent use. Nobody seems to want the ‘Butter Knife’, so that also ends up in Regal’s inventory.
After cutting off the ear, Veronica leads the squad past the corpse and further into the bowels of Theore.