That next morning, we set off towards the shortcut path that led to the cave’s exit, with Mec leading our party, waddling with her teddy bear legs.
A number of monsters came out of the woodworks along the way. Apparently, the ghosts would attack the normal beasts, too, and so the monsters would instinctively hide away from the ghosts at night.
What monsters did we come across, you ask? Goblins. All three of them fell by our hands and were absorbed via my ability.
HP +15, MP +3, Attack +3, Defense +3, Speed +3, Skill points gained: +3.
That’s all my stats would rise after taking on three of them.
“I see, so that’s Corpse Absorption.”
“You sucked ‘em right up!”
Mec and Lenya both marveled at me after seeing my technique used for the first time.
“How much do your stats improve after absorbing them?” Mec asked.
I explained what had improved and by how much.
“I see,” she said. “One point gained per goblin. Outside of the cave, there are hundreds of them. If you defeated them all, none could compare to you at that point.”
“Hm, you think so?”
“Well, typically, defeating low-level monsters wouldn’t raise your level whatsoever. With your ability, though, it’s hard to say. There could come a day when your stats don’t change even after absorbing low-leveled beasts.”
That was true, and was definitely a possibility. The idea of getting stronger just by beating down goblins didn’t sit right with me, though. It wasn’t like I was Goblin Slayer, or anything. Eh, but, if that was the best chance I had of getting stronger though, I might just become one, if I had to.
“How much further do we have to go?” I asked aloud.
“Not too much more,” answered Mec. “We’ll soon be running into stronger monsters closer in, so stay focused.”
I mentally prepared myself for what was to come.
Lenya came close to me. “Hey, hey, Tetsuya. Meow, when we get out of here, what’s the first thing you want to do?”
She seemed pretty laid-back, as if she didn’t have a care in the world, instead of focusing on what was coming next.
What did I want to do when I got out…? I hadn’t really sat down and thought about it. For now, my sole goal was to just survive. Maybe I could make my way as an adventurer or something?
“I wanna eat a bunch of yummy food!” she declared, sincerely looking like she was enjoying the moment.. “I lost my memories, so I can’t really say for sure, but Teacher says there’s a lot of good food out there to eat!”
I grinned. “Something tasty, huh? I’d like some good food, too. That huge mushroom back there tasted like crap.”
“What, you ate that thing? Teacher told me to stay away from them – are you okay?!”
“Tetsuya has a poison resistance,” Mec chimed in, her tone a bit angry, “so he’s fine. But didn’t I tell you to focus on the situation at hand, Lenya? We’re almost there.”
“What do you want to do when we get out of here, Teacher?” Lenya asked, ignoring what Mec had just said.
“I obviously want to dispel this curse. How many years has it been that I’ve had to bear with this form…? It’s been far too long – I need to find a way to break the curse.”
She’s been a teddy bear for years? Seriously? What a scary thought.
“Here we are,” Mec announced as we reached the entrance of the shortcut.
“So, if we use this shortcut, we’ll be able to get out of here entirely?” I asked.
“Precisely, but it will take us about two days or so.”
“Come on, let’s go, Tetsuya!” cheered Lenya.
We came across monsters fairly soon after entering the cave. There weren’t any glowing mushrooms like the last cave I’d been in, so we used “Small Light” to brighten the area for us.
One of the monsters that showed up looked like some kind of weasel with fire coming from its body. All along its back were flames, and only one came out at a time. I used “Identify” to research its details:
“Flame Weasel, 10yo, Lv. 29/36. A weasel-like monster enveloped in flames.”
Its level was rather high, and it was just like it said: a weasel with flames on it.
“Ugh,” complained Lenya. “I hate hot things…”
“A Flame Weasel? Quite the dangerous monster has shown itself,” said Mec. “I have a strong offense, but if that thing’s fire touches me, it’s lights out..”
Yeah, being a teddy bear, I doubt fire would be in your best interests…
As for me, I used “Absorb Thread” straight off and caught the beast in my grip. Unfortunately, it burned through the thread almost immediately. Guess this thread didn’t have any fire resistance.
The monster launched an attack with its fire. It blasted three balls of fire at the three of us, and I barely managed to get out of the way hurriedly, saving my own skin in just enough time. Lenya, being afraid of fire, screamed as she scrambled out of the way. And, even though Mec said she’d be in a pickle if fire touched her, she was the calmest in evading the fireball.
The fucker was fast, too. The stats didn’t make it out to be much, but it moved quickly and fairly well.
As soon as I’d calmed down, I went back on the offensive. The cave’s ceiling seemed high enough, so I thought I’d try using “Meteorite” this time. I dropped the meteor down towards the weasel thing with a deafening boom.
It had definitely taken a good amount of damage, but it was still running about here and there. I ran straight towards it, throwing a kick right at its head and clenching the victory. It still tried to skitter away a bit more, but eventually could no longer move its body. So, more than likely, it was probably dead.
I checked its condition for sure as I reached out my hand to touch it. It didn’t move a muscle as I absorbed it whole.
HP +30, MP +3, Attack +5, Defense +2, Speed +2, Skill points gained: +2. Gained skill: Level 2 Flame Ball. Gained Level 1 Fire Resistance.
“Damn, my attack raised up a good bit,” I said.
“Hmph, that’s because it was an offense-oriented monster,” explained Mec. “The points you gain will fluctuate based on the condition of the monster.”
Much agreed on that point.
“Awww, I didn’t do anything,” whined Lenya, looking upset. “I’ll get ‘em next time!”
With that, the three of us headed deeper into the cave.