Although Mia successfully learned a new basic skill in approximately ten minutes, she was unsure how this compared to others. Was reading from a skill book always this fast? Did it differ from person to person? Or was it based on the skill's complexity level, or a mixture of both?
Mia decided to set these questions aside for the time being. The most important thing right now was to focus on the task at hand.
She glanced over at the Wind Slime hopping around next to her. Not only did she have to worry about herself, she also had to worry about how to help the Wind Slime next to her gain experience. While Colson's Status Stone previously indicated that the Wind Slime also gained experience points by acting as her armor, Mia was still hoping for more.
Slimes, like all other magical beasts, had the ability to unlock additional skills and/or magic spells upon leveling up. Not to mention, Wind Slimes were Magic Slimes – they had the ability to use magic spells from their element. Mia was looking forward to see if her Wind Slime would be capable of being a stronger magician than she was in the future, as sad as it sounded. Would her pet Slime end up becoming a stronger wind mage than she?
Mia was someone who believed in practical experience over strength on paper. Although she was technically level 4, that didn't mean that she was stronger than all the level 1 novices. Her base stats were increasing very slowly; she surmised that this had to do with her young age. Besides, there were plenty of ways to defeat others that didn't involve direct showdowns of pure strength.
She simply wanted to have more options available than just the Slime Armor. Flexible options would never be a bad thing. The main issue was, how was she supposed to communicate with her Wind Slime?
There were still so many things she didn't know. For instance, Mia didn't know if this Wind Slime was male or female or perhaps even asexual. How did Slimes reproduce, anyways? Was there some sort of magical beast daycare that she could leave her Wind Slime at together with another Slime? Would there be a Slime egg waiting for her after she took a specific number of steps?
Monsters had a different path of evolution from humans. In the game, they would grow more intelligent as they leveled up and grew stronger, and given better AIs to reflect this. Most magical beasts were even capable of learning human speech upon hitting certain target levels, and some were even capable of human transformation.
This was all still far beyond her beginner-level Wind Slime's capabilities at the moment, of course. Still, Mia couldn't help but dream. What would it be like to stand at the pinnacle together with her Wind Slime?
…Mia was unable to imagine such a scenario, so she gave up the thought and began to focus on the present. Right now, what she needed to ensure was that the Wind Slime understood her intentions and could cooperate smoothly with her in battle when not in Slime Armor form.
"Wind Slime, attack that wall!"
The Wind Slime merely stared blankly back at her. It then extended a slimy appendage and patted her on the face.
Mia tried using her control over the wind element mana to send a light breeze blowing directly against the wall. The Wind Slime moved over and plastered itself against the wall; it appeared that it was feeding off of her mana somehow. Mia supposed that she would have to settle for this as it was better than nothing. She could simply try sending a breeze blowing at some enemy in scenarios where she didn't need it to act as her armor.
"Windy, dodge and roll left!"
Mia tried to lightly toss the [Ransack] skill book at it. However, the Wind Slime didn't react at all and the book merely bounced off harmlessly. After this, the Wind Slime then jumped up on top of Mia's head!
"…You're supposed to be the tank here. Are you intending to use me as your shield now?"
Well, Mia knew that the Wind Slime didn't actually mind acting as the Slime Armor so much. It had gained experience together with her and leveled up to level 3. Nor had it ever seemed to complain when shielding her from the boar and bee monsters' attacks in the Clearlight Forest. Still, it remained to be seen what it would do if they were ever pushed to the brink.
Mia then recalled that she had neglected to give her pet a name yet. If she recalled correctly, the Wind Slime's status previously said [Unnamed, Mia's pet]. It was possible to name bonded pet magical beasts in the game as well, but Mia was actually the type who always went with whatever default names were available. She didn't consider herself good at coming up with names.
"Constantly calling you Windy or Wind Slime doesn't seem very appropriate or sound much like a real name… Whimsy! I'll call you Whimsy from now on. How about it? Do you like it?"
Mia settled on naming the Wind Slime "Whimsy" after a few seconds of consideration. Although it was a whimsical name, just like the meaning of the name itself, she also had her reasons. Whimsy sounded phonetically similar to wind, the Slime's element, and it was also gender neutral.
Whimsy's response to its new name was to reach down and smush itself against her. Mia supposed that this was an act of friendliness? She didn't know just what exactly her pet Slime viewed her as. Mia could only let it be for the time being.
Mia began proceeding down the cave's passageway. A minute or two later, she sensed the first presence appear in her mind.
However, as she approached closer, she noticed that there were actually numerous creatures sticking close together in the passageway! Mia trudged forward cautiously, paying attention to whatever might be in front.
She suddenly noticed that she had stepped in something that evidently wasn't the rocky cave ground. Mia had been paying more attention to her mental minimap indicating the creatures' locations rather than the ground at her feet. When she looked downwards, she saw some little gray pellets that were now smashed under her feet.
"These are… animal feces of some sort?"
Mia managed to identify what she had stepped in. It seemed that her first adventure by herself would literally begin with a first step in animal poop. This was something that a game would never replicate for a player's experience!
Mia shook off the pellets still attached to her shoe. She didn't consider herself the clean freak type; in fact, she even disliked girls who acted like delicate little flowers that would wilt at the hint of any dirt. Yet, that didn't mean that she enjoyed having such objects sticking to her.
Moving on, Mia took a turn in the corridor and arrived in a relatively large underground cavern. She saw several bats hanging from the ceiling – these bats had been the presences she sensed in her mind.
When she entered, the bats also sensed her presence, and swooped down towards her while screeching loudly!
Mia was prepared for what she might encounter and swung her wooden sword at one bat, successfully knocking it out of the air. She sent a light breeze at another bat, seeing if Whimsy would be able to help her in combat.
While still attached to her body, Whimsy sent out a tendril and entangled the bat surrounded by the breeze. The bat flapped furiously but was unable to break free from its predicament.
Mia was unable to block all of the bats with her sword and some got through and attempted to bite her. Luckily enough, they were unable to pierce through the Slime Armor with their fangs. Mia took this opportunity while they were busy biting to knock another bat off of her and onto the ground.
It appeared that Dega had indeed told her the truth, as these bats were quite weak and easy to take care of. The most annoying part about fighting them was actually their loud screeching, not any damage they could cause to her. Mia was somewhat tempted to try and find out if she could borrow some small part of Whimsy's body to make some Slime earplugs, but decided against it in the end. She felt that it was more important to be able to hear her surroundings, however ear-piercing the screeching may be.
Wanting to reduce the bats' overall numbers, Mia swung her sword down forcefully and smashed it into one of the bats on the ground. The bat started magically dissolving as was the norm for such magical beasts, evidence that it was quite weak indeed, as it had been taken out in a mere two hits. Yet, to Mia's surprise, all the other bats left her alone, and swarmed upon the dying bat's corpse in a feeding frenzy!
The other bats devoured the unlucky dying bat and it was soon gone from existence. Disgusted, Mia ran further into the cave while the bats were distracted. She had never seen anything quite like this same species cannibalism before, and it gave her quite a deep impression that these were indeed magical monsters, rather than being the same species from her previous world.
Mia actually had a favorable impression of real bats, that was, as long as they were doing what they were supposed to. She knew that bats typically ate either fruit or insects, and were considered a beneficial species for humans. The bats in this cave, however, were monsters that preyed on even their own kind at even the slightest hint of blood.
Although these bat monsters were quite weak and easy enough to take on, Mia decided to save time and not do anything unnecessary. She continued onwards in the cave, using the same method of slaying one bat to distract the remaining members of the bat horde so that she could continue mostly uninterrupted.
As Mia went deeper into the cave, she noticed that the layer of gray pellets on the ground became thicker and thicker. Soon, it became completely unavoidable that she had to walk on them.
'So, this must be bat guano. Who knew that I would be walking down a road of bat poop in an attempt to achieve my goal?' Mia could only smile wryly at the experience. After all, complaining wouldn't be of any help.
The next cavern room Mia went in contained only the presence of one monster. However, Mia saw no visible monsters when she entered this room. Was it a type that could conceal its presence? Mia decided to proceed slowly and carefully.
When she passed by a large boulder in the middle of the room, the rock suddenly animated itself, opening up three large eyes, and rolled straight towards her! Mia unhesitatingly started running. Even with the Slime Armor protecting her, that didn't mean that she would be impervious to damage. Strong impacts from a high-speed collision would be more than capable of breaking her bones.
Thinking back to her fights against the Wild Boars, Mia decided to use zigzagging to see if that would work against this boulder monster as well. The rolling boulder crashed into the wall… and embedded itself within, getting stuck!
Mia carefully poked at it with her sword and swung down a few times as well, but the blows didn't seem to have any effect. The rock kept trembling as it shook itself in the crevice it had created from the impact, attempting to free itself. All three eyes appeared to be viciously glaring in Mia's direction.
Mia decided to leave well enough alone and continue onward. She figured that such rock monsters would fit the common stereotype of high defense and low magic resistance. However, she was unable to deal with such a monster with her current available skills, as neither she nor Whimsy knew any attack magic spells. She would simply have to avoid all the rock monsters on her way.
At a fork in the path, Mia sensed an item at the end of the left passage, which soon reached a dead end. There was a small wooden chest, guarded by yet another boulder monster.
"Always a monster to guard a treasure chest, eh. Can't there simply be unguarded treasure chests laying around for the taking? Why would monsters have any interest in treasure chests, anyways?"
Mia commented to herself while having Whimsy distract the boulder monster. Unlike her, Whimsy had a soft body that wouldn't be easily affected by any impacts, so this was much safer. Mia took this chance and grabbed the wooden chest before running back to the fork in the road with Whimsy following after.
The boulder monster attempted to chase after them… but couldn't accelerate at all! This particular passageway was somewhat sloping downwards as it reached the dead end, so Mia was running back uphill. The boulder monster had great difficulty in ascending as it lacked any feet.
Mia was rendered somewhat speechless at the sight.
"So this was all pointless? I don't even need to fight it? Who would stash treasure chests only in out-of-the-way areas and dead ends, anyways? I don't think any normal person would do such of things. The God of Adventurers must be a sadist!"
Mia opened up the wooden chest, which was unlocked, to find a small vial inside. Perhaps it was some sort of potion, but Mia didn't have any relevant knowledge or anyone with her who could tell her what it was. She decided to pocket it and move on. Meanwhile, the wooden chest magically disappeared and vanished into thin air.
"Well, at least the God of Adventurers doesn't leave litter behind. That's good. I suppose he likes to recycle?"
Mia continued onwards, following a rule of thumb that games almost always followed: the best treasure and goal would always be at the very end. She finally reached another large cavern that appeared to be the final one. She sensed an item's presence in her mind that evidently had more power than the vial she discovered earlier. She looked to see a silver chest sitting a distance away from her in a corner of the cavern.
There was only one problem – the tremendous bat hanging from the ceiling, about the size of a human adult, and much larger than any of the smaller bats she had faced on her way here.
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