After discussing the great escape the conversation turns back to more idle topics. Where did you live on Earth? Wow, I sure didn't live anywhere near there! How did you die? Don't want to talk about it? I'm not surprised! It's probably not surprising that we aren't the type of people who'd want to excessively share about our human lives. Given what I learned from the lord of the Dungeon, Mr Beardy Man himself, put together with the few small hints that I got from the others, I understand that none of us had fantastic lives.
I mean, mine was fine, but Garralosh and these two seem to have suffered some nasty stuff.
Ah well, the past is in the past. We're all monsters now and we need to live the best monster life we can. Which for me means getting the heck out of here without becoming some other monster's lunch so I can reunite with my family. They must be struggling without me, desperate for my guidance and steady leadership
Don't become delusional, Anthony. They're probably doing just fine without you. In fact, if anyone should be worried, it should be them worrying about me. Our conversation plays out quite pleasantly in the end and we go our separate ways. I notice that Sarah takes a good long look at her trio of escorts before she moves off with them. Perhaps she's actually starting to wake up to the reality of her life here. If she actually does manage to make an escape with Jim, I think she'll find the Dungeon far less intimidating than she did before. Company makes all the difference. If I didn't have the Colony and Tiny, I might have ended up exactly the same as her. Going from being a human living in a society to being a monster incapable of communication is rough to say the least. No one to talk to, even just to vent and destress makes things tough mentally.
Jim had it even harder, slithering around in the soil, completely blind. He plays it off as if it were fine, but I think he suffered a great deal in those early days. Unable to fight, unable to see or talk. Living in a world of complete darkness whilst being so defenceless and clueless. It must have left some scars on him. It would be impossible for it not to. His willingness to throw himself back into the thick of it is admirable, but I feel he too would benefit from having a companion to share the danger with.
It's unlikely to have anything to do with me anyway. If we get out alive, we'll soon part ways. For now, the staying alive part is what I need to focus on. Back in my cell I'm not too shocked to find Torrina waiting once more.
[Do you have to be here? Don't you have something else to do?] I groan.
She quirks one stony eyebrow at me.
[Corun is keeping Tiny alive for the moment so I'd thought I'd stay here and do the same for you. You'd prefer the alternative?]
[No ma'am. Let's get to it!]
As much as I whine, I know she's doing me a huge favour by helping my training. I'm not too interested in dying and this is the best way I can try and keep myself alive. I'd be an absolute idiot to put less than all of my effort into it. I'll be thrown into another death match in two days, harder than the last one probably. Every level up is critical.
And I am getting them, level ups I mean. Grinding away at two different types of magic at the same time is progressing my Skills at a quick pace. Not only the elemental Skills, but my supplementary mental Skills as well. I've gained two levels in Iron Mind and one in Profound Meditation as well as bringing all of my elemental Skills, bar Air, up to rank three. The third rank is some sort of pivot for the elements, unlocking more powerful varieties of the original shape. Water unlocked Ice magic at rank three and it proves the same for the others. Earth Magic unlocked Stone Magic and Fire magic unlocked Blue Flame. All sorts of new stuff can be done with Stone Magic but Blue Flame just seems to be hotter flame. Still useful, no doubt about that, just less exciting I suppose.
From what I'm told that's it as far as new types of Elements from the base Skills, which is another reason why people don't pursue them very far. You made it to rank three? That's all she wrote folks, move along. For my part, I fully intend to keep pushing. Before the next fight starts I'll have all of them at rank three and be pushing for rank four.
[Any word on my next opponent?] I squeeze out to Torrina during training.
She whips a quick spell at me in case I become distracted but I manage to rip it apart at the last second.
[Not yet,] she informs me, [the second round hasn't finished yet. I think we still have two more days, perhaps a little less.]
Another two days ugh.
[Is there any chance you could sneak Tiny in here? I'd love to say hi to the big lug.]
[I'm keeping him as close as possible, but it might be tricky to bring him into the compound. I'll see what I can do.]
[I appreciate it.]
And I really do. Not having Tiny and Crinis with me is causing all sorts of anxiety. They're my closest companions! My best buds! It just doesn't feel right when they're not around. I know that some would say they're not 'friends' as such, more 'magically bound slaves' but I hold no truck with that. I don't even subscribe to the Sophos attitude towards pets. Despite the Sophos being so generous and loving towards their pets, they still view them as possessions. I want to go beyond that. I will set them free one day! As soon as I work out how
[Are you worried about your other pet?]
[Ye - what other pet?]
Safe! Just in time!
[Alright then, keep your secrets.]
[I shall! I mean, what secrets?]
That actually gets a laugh out of Torrina, a rare feat indeed. She's quite taciturn usually. In just this manner the training drags on until I'm forced to beg for rest. I take a little time to feed and tickle my new pet and then straight into torpor I go. When I wake up I have a snack of some Biomass, which I have a decent stockpile of, and then I anxiously await the next Golgari through the door. To my momentary delight, it's not Torrina the cold faced training torturer, but Granin who enters.
[I honestly never thought I'd be this happy to see you, Granin.]
[I think we'll fix that in a hurry. Let's have a chat about the next couple of rounds. We need to work out a strategy.]