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 "Out of the tier 4 fighters in the valley here, the lizard is the only one you have a chance of escaping from if you first evolve to tier 2." Melisandra stated.

"It's your average dumb lizard. Low [Body] because if their insanely fast healing factor and a strength affinity or something simple. It'll be as fast as you, but you should be able to escape. The other three, on the other hand, pray you never meet."

"Mother," the young Proto-Gob asked, what are the other ones like?"

"Hmm, well there's a necromancer. If his presence was known, people would wipe the valley off the map. I plan to kill him and collect the bounty that the 'peaceful,' groups set up amongst themselves. Then there is also a tier 4 rock golem humanoid freak with a nasty metal affinity and their orc leader."

Melisandra hummed for a bit, "Humans really like names and symbols, so most Enlightened started a trend that lasted near 2000 years since we've existed here. We spit in the name of their idiotic symbols they hold dear. We use names from their legends and make equally stupid names for our tribes and territories as well. The entire pissing contest sometimes gets out of hand, and orcs are especially known for it."

"New Yorc," the Abyssal Elf smirked. "That one never vets old though. Anyway, the orc that leads this place was banished for his love of sodomy and **** or something that was even too much for those greenskins, but not enough to outright kill him. When he last a hand, he set up this operation to collect enough Power Stones to heal it. And so, Cripclaw Valley was born."

Odd just smiled as he listened.

"But get this straight, Odd. He's not a weakling because he's crippled. This is a strong, tier 4, Enlightened force of nature. Without any of his limbs, he would only need to blink and you would be dead. If..."

She paused in thought. "If you ever run into Cripclaw or the other 2 strong lieutenants of his, I want you to to detonate as much yin lighting you possibly can, directly burning your body, drawing on your own life-force to signal your magic like a beacon as strong as you can."

Did she mean what Odd thought she meant?

"Yes, little one," she whispered. "I will come for you, I promise. Now go to sleep, you have training and your little tree to mark some more tomorrow."

The dark elf said nothing else as a member of a race thought incapable of tears dampened her clothes.

-a mother educating her child as he falls asleep, Melisandra Meirvere, Dark Lady of The Myriad Storms, 2109 FE

****************************************************

Odd blinked his eyes and watched the shadows dance across the ceiling. 'That's new,' he thought. Odd was sure he dropped the torch when the fight started and he tried to save the Flame Slime by the light the ritual was emitting.

Better than waking up alone in a pitch blackspace, forced to hug the walls until he could escape. It's the results that mattered the most in the end though, so Odd was perfectly okay with the new-found development.

"Uuugh," he groaned loudly, but was in a lot less pain than he expected to be in. Bringing his hand to his mouth, he felt something wet, checked his hand, and and found red... slime? It was still slightly hot to the touch for however long it was on his face while he was out.

Did that girl feed herself to the Living Ghoul? Is that an intimate thing or just like eating an arm?

Odd decided to focus on the important things for now. He'd ask his mother or someone else the ways of how fusions of organic, inorganic, and magical life function in day to day life, later.

His foot! He blew it off!

Odd wiggled his toes.

Thank god he wasn't a twig elf or something. They need rituals to regrow their limbs that exponentially grow in cost based on how powerful they are. Odd was a badass that only required nutritious flesh to sprout limbs like a flower. Or a a starfish.

Both those are horrible metaphors, but Odd had just been through a near death experience here, he shouldn't be expected to think straight!

Clay Zul rested on the ground in front of him. Rested, being a term used loosely. Most of him just didn't exist anymore. His entire torso and head was gone, with burns marking the edges and limbs that were still intact.

A trail of burnt ground lead to a small crack in the wall. The slime girl must have escaped and left him.

Finally, his observations come full circle, Odd found a well crafted torch standing straight up, shoved in a crack in the floor next to him.

"Thanks, Myyx! I owe you one!" Odd grinned.

The Gob paused... "Oh... I forgot I was supposed to hide that ability to know names... Whatever. Thanks beautiful miss slime, I'll see you in my dreams later!"

Odd grinned, 'That was a good one, smooth, but not laying it on too thick,' he thought to himself.

After he took a moment to loot Clay Zul's coin pouch, he scoured the room, but came up mostly empty. He was no longer broke, but calling Odd dirt poor would be an apt description. The pitiful amount of stones in his new pouch was taunting him, but he was done with this tunnel.

Hopefully, the girl would find him later. Odd found the look she had in her eyes really endearing and they kept popping in his mind over and over again as he backtracked out of the tunnel.

"Not to mention those comically huge tits drooping off her," he whispered to himself salatiously. Odd was still a monster, at the end of the day.

Light! Freedom!

Wait, light? Odd noticed he had been out all night long and it was early morning. He only had two days left to complete his mission!

Odd ignored the groups along the way to his destination and after a couple hours, the stronghold finally came into sight!

An observer may deduce that the young Living Ghoul had learned absolutely nothing from his brush with death.

They would be absolutely correct. Odd was fully aware of how stupid and reckless the entire debacle was, but he didn't care, because he came out alive. He was still fighting and that is what truly mattered.

And now, Odd finally saw the first sign of real civilization in his entire life! The stronghold was made out of logs, tightly bound together and was built into the side of a large hill that encompassed the back of it.

The front side of the stronghold had sharpened logs and barbed metal pointing outwards along the walls with one way in, through a set of giant, wood doors.

The whole are had only two Hobgoblin guards at the front entrance.

It looked suspiciously easy to get it.

[Eyes of Providence] activated

Name: Alarm Wards for Cripclaw Keep

Materials: Power Stones

Intent: Ritual was made to tie alerting sounds to the leaders and defensive wards of the stronghold. The front door alarm is set to allow access for only listed, approved personnel. The back tunnels to the Pitts will go on alert if a non-Gob that was born outside Cripclaw Valley enters.

Such an entrance was practically set up for Odd to break in! He was just glad ritual wards were usually too expensive to scan for anything more than physical characteristics. An alarm that sounded off, 'If you intended harm or wanted to steal,' would have forced Odd to crawl back to his mother in defeat.



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