Chapter 21

Chapter 21

Snake Report: Day Fifteen


I have moved my tiny-snake-base of operations to just outside the creepy giant skeleton's space. I call this base Big-foot.


It's probably my finest work. I plan on staying here awhile.

Now, I'll admit. The Immortal Giant Skeleton makes a lot of noise as it bangs on that equally giant and creepy looking door. The beauty of this, though, is the fact that if a tiny-snake with some semblance of earth magic covers up the equally tiny entrance way to Camp Big-foot, no noise gets in.


Peaceful Slumber: perfection.

But there is on slightly tricky problem.

Snakes are not good at climbing giant stone walls. Especially not when falling off of them, results in touching rather suspicious looking runic etchings.

That giant Skeleton is touching that floor, but I personally think they've made a rather compelling case against it.

So no, I'm not going to touch that floor.

I'm actually rather concerned by the fact that it glows red and seems to whisper dark and mysterious words sometimes.

But at the same measure: I'm not going to try and climb along the sloped walls of the ceiling and stupidly fall right into the middle of it either.

Instead, human-side of things has a plan.

A long, boring, cheating-the-game-mechanics sort of plan.

Operation [Escape the Dungeon] phase two: [Earth Manipulation that can pierce the heavens]

It's a long name, I know.


But that's because it's probably going to take a long time.

Chapter 22

Chapter 22

Snake Report: Day Sixteen


I think it's safe to call this "grinding."

Both in the metaphoric sense, and the literal: I am grinding.

The Earth.

The Stone.

My mental and magic reserves.

My patience.

Onward and upward, Progress continues until it doesn't.

It took me over four hours to run low enough on magic for instinct to start shouting at me to stop.

During those four hours, I managed to get about three whole full-length slithers worth of distance out of the stone.

Already, I'm having some slight doubts with my plan, but progress doesn't always start quickly. In this case, it's going to have to build up some momentum.

[Earth Manipulation: Rank III] Is going to have to be a reward in itself. If I can make the skill more efficient, this should get easier with time.


I end my day early after taking a quick slither out of Camp Big-foot for a few glowing mushrooms.


The Giant Skeleton is still hitting the creepy door. Same as before.


Consistency can be comforting in odd ways.

Chapter 23

Chapter 23

Snake Report: Day Seventeen


Another four slithers upward in the manner of progress. Then I had to stop.

[Earth Manipulation: Rank IV]


I'm not going to complain. This is much easier than yesterday. The ability is tough to use for long periods, but I've been working a steady pace of a slow and winding spiral.

The base camp at the bottom, followed by a spiral upwards into another flat resting space, followed by another spiral into another resting place.

It's a very simple design. I don't have arms or legs, so I feel like this is really the only way to do things even if straight up and down might be less distance to carve out. The stone down here is very tough, but if the surface is only a few hundred feet away, I think I can make this work out within a few months.

As I popped back out of the lowest level of my expanding camp, I collected another few mushrooms and watching the giant skeleton bang on the door.

It's a wonder he can just keep going like that. He must have recovery magic up the wazoo, otherwise I think his arms would have crumbled to dust ages ago.



Chapter 24

Chapter 24

Snake Report: Day Eighteen


[Earth Manipulation: Rank V] was reached.


I'm getting better at this, maybe six whole slithers worth of height added to the total. I feel like, although it is going to get more difficult to level up this skill with time- it also become much easier to use.


In a weird way I think this is evening out. Hopefully I can keep the pace of ranking it up with greater and greater distances per day. There's trouble with planning that far ahead.

I was so confident after the successful ascension, I almost slid out of Camp Big-foot right in front of a Giant Frog. At the last possible second, Instinct saved me: I maintained a Frozen Posture at the edge of the entrance-way.


This one had three heads. One spikey, one warty, one plain. All in all, the frog gave off a very sage-like and understanding sort of appearance.



Holding true understanding and power.

It sat just along the edge of the cavern passage, inches from the polished floor of mysterious seals and runes.

Staring at this frog, frozen in a mix of instinct and fear, I came to find myself considering the background which lead it to this place, details rolling out within my mind's eye.

From the depths of the Dungeon, far, far to the West- it witnessed the horror of fire sweep through the caverns. Perhaps its froggy brethren did flee, falling dead at his warty-green feet to pass a single message: "Avenge us, Sage-Frog."

So it was that the Three-Headed Frog carried on through the dark depths of the Western Dungeon, travelling towards the source, past the ash and burnt husks of those who once lived in this place, past Camp Summit and finally arrived here.


That's almost certainly how it must have gone.


Now, he stares at the Giant Skeleton. Behind those three Froggy-faces, deep and misplaced hatred, a desire for revenge on the Monster which wrought such terror upon his-



He jumped in.

Chapter 25

Chapter 25

Snake Report: Day Nineteen


I won't talk in detail what happened to the Three-headed Frog.

It's not right.

No... It's too soon.

Much too soon.

I will simply say that he was a Hero among Frogs. Never will I forget his noble sacrifice in the efforts of misguided justice.

Though I know little of the Frog-Gods, I believe he has performed in noble enough fashion to be seated at their great Froggy-table in the sky: To munch on insects and other gross amphibian-food for all eternity.

The memory of his efforts will not be lost so long as I live.

I truly believe that.


Don't touch the floor with all the symbols on it. This thought I had, once based on nothing more than fear... I now understand it was a very important decision, and will be a rule from this point on: "Do not touch the floor."

Good. It has been established.

Touching the floor is a very dangerous thing to do.

Something only to be done by mad-men... or Frogs.

To give it a level of danger... If a "One" can be the least, like a paper-cut, and "Ten" could be the fire I started... Well, touching the floor is probably a "Twelve."

I've had a large time to think about this, reflecting on the subject while I take the day off.

Life is short. I realize this now. So, instead of operation [Earth Manipulation that can pierce the heavens] I am carving a shrine.


A shrine to the Tiny Snake god and his trusted prophets: Two-headed Frog, and Three-headed Frog.

Though their shape is rough, I've made them look like quality. Two Froggy Buddhas sitting beneath a small serpent upon a throne. I've raised the ceiling to match a cathedral-style arch. Perhaps it is now three slithers high, four slithers wide.

My magic is all but completely expended on this effort. I can barely move.


This is alright. I might be losing my mind, but this is fine.

Camp Big-foot is now a sacred place. Holy ground.


[Earth Manipulation: Rank VI]


Ah. A sign I have pleased them.


I've most been under some level of stress since being born here. It's now more obvious than ever before. Laying here in the cathedral of the Tiny-Snake-God, I am feeling much like a person aware of approaching mental instability.

This is such a terrifying place.

Just out of paranoia, I chose not to touch the floor of the Giant Skeleton's lair.

Fear has kept me alive.


It's not the floor, exactly, that is dangerous. It's what the floor does.

For the unfortunate individual who steps on the rune-covered surface, fate is sealed.

Literally, I think.

A barrier of glowing magics lift along the edges of the floor. The kind which will not let even the bravest of Frogs back out. A hidden trap: No escape from the space.

The Giant-Skeleton stops hitting the door immediately, and turns exactly like I imagined it might: With dark and haunting flames in its eye sockets.

Then it attacks.


Rest in peace Frog.

Chapter 26

Chapter 26

Snake Report: Day Twenty


I have officially managed to reach the level of the Giant-Skeleton's height. If I were still a human, I think it would be fair to guesstimate this is about thirty feet up from the ground level I started.

Today I made a tiny balcony to confirm this, it's quite a sight. The Giant Skeleton and the terrifying ancient door make for an interesting view, while I overlook the floor that shall not be touched.

Still, hard to believe it took me this long to get here.

Operation [Earth Manipulation that can pierce the heavens] is ridiculously difficult. I may have bitten off a little more than I can chew with this one. I mean, it's a good plan for someone who wants to avoid another early death, but time-consuming is an understatement.



On the bright side, I've gotten very good at recognizing my limits. When I'm running out of steam, I now recognize it without instinct screaming at me, and I stop early. This has been nice, if only for the sake of having energy left-over to explore a bit.


Yes, I know. Not fitting to the mold for someone so fear driven, but having far too much free time is abrasive after days and days of magically molding rock and stone.

It also helps that I have some actual motivation to look around.

Back in the original Tiny-snake-lair, back when I did little more than hide in the ground and wait for the Mushrooms to kill me, there was a glowing rock.

I never did anything with it. It just sort of glowed, looked pretty, acted as a light-source.


There are more of them. A lot more.

If a careless burrowing snake happens to break one, while digging upwards towards the heavens, this will result in a flash of light, and a sickly-sweet scent that might make someone panic and think they're about to die.

But they won't die. Not even after hissing in terror and wriggling like they're going through death throes.

Nope. Not dead.

As a bonus, this not dead individual will also recover a large amount of magical stamina: Enough for another full day's work.

Basically, I'm looking for crystallized magic- A monster dungeon's equivalent of mana-potions. I think this is a pretty groundbreaking discovery, pun very much intended.

It's a big deal.

I've managed to find a bunch of them now that I'm actually on the lookout. They seem grow along the cave walls, of the large Giant Skeleton's lair. I didn't realize because of all the glowing mushrooms that were acting as camouflage, but there are a lot of them.

Getting them is tricky though.

It's not a matter of motivation. I can see clearly that these stones are worth the trouble. One broken crystal is a full day of magical energy. I can double my progress, carry on with operation [Earth Manipulation that can pierce the heavens]


But this is a more difficult respawn, a New Life Minus. More specifically: Minus the hands, the Fingers. The Thumbs. When slithering through a freshly made tunnel, there is only one method for a tiny-snake to carry a crystal.


My mouth.

In this manner, I made another mistake.

Upon discovery and collection of a rather large looking magic crystal, snake instinct betrayed me.

I swallowed it.

Chapter 27

Chapter 27

Snake Report: Day Twenty-one


I have made a terrible error.

Despite my best efforts to remedy this, I am growing concerned.

"[Voice of Gaia]: Show me my abilities."

[Level 31]


[BRANCH: Magic essence]


[Toxic] - Toxic Flesh. Dangerous is consumed.
[Omnivore] - Capable of eating non-monster food-stuffs.
[Affinity of Flame] - Bonded to the Element.
[Legendary] - A rare being. Not often seen, known only to Legend.



[MANA-BURN] - Magic exceeding capacity. Damage inflicted.



[Poison resistance: Rank X]
[Fire resistance: Rank II] - Affinity*
[Mana resistance: Rank V]



[Passive Healing V] - Automatically being to recover from injuries. Mana drained as a result.
[Heal I] - Third rank of healing.
[Flame element] - Affinity*
[Leviathan breath I] - Rare ability. Advanced variation of [Flame Breath]
[Fireball II] - A launched ball of flame.
[Earth element]
[Earth Molding I] - Second rank of [Earth Manipulation]
[Water element]
[Water Manipulation I] - Ability to actively mold and shape water.
[Knowledge element]
[Voice of Gaia II] - Knowledge embodiment
[Divine element]
[None] - None

Maybe that will explain a little.

Well, in more ways than one, it should explain. More details at the very least.

I messed up. This is worse than the Mushrooms. It's a different kind of pain.

Imagine you ate something very spicy. It's a lot like that, only in every inch of my body. From the tip of my tail, to my snout, I am filled with a burning sensation.

"[Voice of Gaia]: What is that Giant Skeleton?"


"[Veel'Osa, Lord of the Damned]"


"[Voice of Gaia]: Who is Veel'Osa?"


"[Veel'Osa, Lord of the Damned] is the cursed and Ancient Prince of the [First Men]"


"[Voice of Gaia]: What are the First Men?"


"[First Men] are ancient beings of Magic and intelligence. They are thought to be extinct."


Questions- lots of questions. You might have noticed and begun wondering: What happened to the previous suggested caution for these things? Wasn't this dangerous?

Past tense? Yes.

Present tense? No.

The [Voice of Gaia] uses a lot of mana, and all I have to do is ask a question.

Ask a question, the magic will answer. Simple and easy.

But by a lot of mana, I mean using it three or four times normally would just empty my reserves and I'd probably pass out from some sort of mana deficit.

A quick and brutal K.O like some professional boxer snuck up on me.


Obviously that's not working right now. The magic is still taking a ton of mana, but I'm not running out. In fact, my reserve tank of magic is brimmed to overflow. By the time I've asked one question, I need to ask another or the pain is back.

"[Voice of Gaia]: Where are we?"


"[Deep Dungeon]: A level in the Dungeon network which rests below the Bed-rock of the surface world."



So, I ask a question. I get an answer. Not always the most useful answer, not always the most useful question. I've gotten past the point of really thinking too heavily on my queries. I haven't been able to sleep because the moment I stop using magic, I start to burn.

Like, dying at an accelerated pace kind of "Burn."

I tried to combat this with Earth Magic, with healing, but I've come back down to this. Currently in my mentally exhausted state, after carving out another dozen feet of stone, turning the entire camp Big-foot into a human-sized bunker, and casting heal more times than I can count: It's the only thing keeping me alive.

I'm too tired to do anything else.

The sensation is similar to drinking an entire pot of coffee after an all-nighter.

I'm miserable. Everything hurts. I'm exhausted.

"[Voice of Gaia]: What is a Divine Element?"


"[Divine Element]: An element of divinity."


That's the most non-answer I think I've gotten yet. Even after it ranked up once, it still doesn't provide all that much in the way of details.

"[Voice of Gaia]: What is a an element of divinity?"


"A [Divine Element]"


Well. that's useless.

Oh, I hate everything.

I really do. Everything but the Tiny-Snake-God and his two faithful Frog Prophets. The rest of this world can go to hell. This is too difficult. It hurts so bad, I feel like I'm about to experience spontaneously-combustion.

[Mana resistance: Rank VI]
[Passive Healing VI]
[Voice of Gaia III]

Hissssssssss... Hysterical.

I am being mocked, I think.



Yes. I am being mocked. This is hell.

Chapter 29

Chapter 29

Snake Report: Day Twenty-three


[Mana resistance: Rank XX]

[Passive Healing: Rank XIX]

[Voice of Gaia: Rank V]

I slept.

I really did, I slept and woke up, used magic and then went back to sleep.

Somehow... Somehow I'm alive.

Like someone with alcohol poisoning, too stubborn to go to the hospital. I basically puked up magical spells and rolled back over into slumber.

I also shed my skin, several times from the looks of it.

Insert joke about onions [here-] No. Stop that.


Outside of asking the [Voice of Gaia] nonsensical and open ended questions like "WHY?" over and over, I think I mostly used [Earth Molding]

Camp Big-foot is now a large human-sized bunker, complete with replica stone sofa, table, chairs, and book-shelf. At it's center, the shrine to the little-snake-god still sits.

The absurdity is noted. Half-awake molding magic is just that. I made whatever would make the pain subside while I spammed questions.

Somehow though, I think I've now reached some sort of middle ground.

I feel sick. I still feel pain.

But I think its less.

I'm going to attribute this to [Mana resistance: Rank XX]


Slowly but surely, I am becoming immune. Like some ancient ninja that injects themselves with poison from a young age, the effects are lessening. First the Mushrooms, now the Magic Crystal... It seems I've taken the long and winding masochistic-route to survival.

The seemingly endless magic is also a benefit.

In a strange way, I think my magical reserve has increased.

It's not just the overflow from the crystal that has long since dissolved and poisoned the ever-hissing shit out of me. Though it's still overflowing a bit, my magical reserve is easily twice what it was before, maybe even more. The more I used magic, the more of it I seem to get.

I guess it's like a muscle, only I've been working it out while using dangerous steroids.

It's not the only thing that has been adjusting though. I faintly remember other things popping up along the edge of my awareness.

"[Voice of Gaia]: Show me my abilities."

[Level 34]


[BRANCH: Magic essence]



[Toxic] - Toxic Flesh. Dangerous is consumed.
[Crystalline scales] - Increased Defense
[Omnivore] - Capable of eating non-monster food-stuffs.
[Affinity of Flame] - Bonded to the Element.
[Legendary] - A rare being. Not often seen, known only to Legend.


[STATUS: Lessening]

[MANA-BURN] - Magic exceeding capacity. Damage inflicted. Status is the result of consumption - Large [Mana Crystal]



[Poison resistance: Rank X]
[Fire resistance: Rank II] - Affinity*
[Mana resistance: Rank XX]



[Passive Healing XIX] - Automatically being to recover from injuries. Mana drained as a result.
[Heal I] - Third rank of healing.
[Flame element] - Affinity*
[Leviathan breath I] - Rare ability. Advanced variation of [Flame Breath]
[Fireball II] - A ball of flame, capable of long-range.
[Earth element]
[Earth Molding III] - Second spell rank of [Earth Manipulation]
[Water element]
[Water Manipulation I] - Ability to actively mold and shape water.
[Knowledge element]
[Voice of Gaia V] - Knowledge embodiment. Spirit of the world.
[Divine element]
[None] - None

Hissssss... I can't believe I'm still alive.

Even the pretty looking rocks of the world want me dead.


Chapter 30

Chapter 30

Snake Report: Day Twenty-three, Continued


I went about continuing my upward digging with a new resolve.

The magic crystal I made the mistake of swallowing dissolved a long time ago, but its effects are just starting to lesson. Before they do, I want to make the best of it.

[Earth Molding III] makes this easier.

Over one hundred feet upwards. On the balcony I've made to confirm, the Giant-Skeleton and the creepy door are actually starting to look a bit small.

Or, normal sized, more likely. They don't look nearly as scary from up here.

What's much more encouraging though, is the drafting taste of wind. A faint and pleasant sweeping flow of fresh air is reaching down from above, and if I look up- I can see along the massive crack between the two sides of the ceiling, there is the faintest hint of light.

Just like when you look at it from the ground below, but slightly brighter.

I am confident that my plan is working.

With this much mana, even if the overflowing effects of the crystal are lessening, operation [Earth Manipulation Molding that can pierce the heavens] is in full swing. If the surface is as far as another thousand slithers away, I can still be there in a month at the worst case. Fifty slithers a day, multiplied by twenty days- factoring in a steady improvement of efficiency.


I estimate twenty days or less until I reach the surface. Less than a month before I can escape this terrible dungeon, and hopefully eat something other than blue-mushrooms.

Honestly, I would settle for just about any kind of human food. Eggs, chicken, rice, beans, bread, pasta: Anything. I'm not trying to complain, but Blue-Mushrooms and shiny rocks haven't been the most appetizing menu items.

Both also almost killed me.

If I can eat those things, I'm sure I could eat a sandwich or something. Even if it tried to kill me, I think I could handle a sandwich.

Human food...



"[Voice of Gaia]: Do Humans exist?"


Nothing... The magic was used... decent sized query there, but no answer.



This has happened a few times before. When I asked "Why" a whole bunch of times because I felt like I was dying in a fire from the inside out. That sort of occurrence, mostly.

Because of that, I think this Magic seems to work better with direct context. In some way, I feel like that makes at least a little sense. It identifies things, it doesn't act as an all-seeing oracle. The Questions need to have some basic reference to go off of.


"[Voice of Gaia]: What is that Giant Skeleton below?"

"[Veel'Osa, Lord of the Damned]"


"[Voice of Gaia]: Who is Veel'Osa?"

"[Veel'Osa, Lord of the Damned] is the cursed and Ancient Prince of the [First Men]"


"[Voice of Gaia]: What are Men?"

"[Men]: Term and title for [Human] beings."


AH Ha- Wooooah! WOAH.



Hold on a second.

That last question drained a lot.

Like, I'm getting a little woozy and lightheaded, so much more than normal...

Crystal burning is still in effect though, I feel that still. Ah, it's coming back, but that definitely just wiped out 80% of my magic in a flash.

Quite a bit of magic for one question.

Really strange... maybe it has something to do with context again? I feel like I bent some rules getting that answer. It's not like I've ever seen a human as a snake, just a Giant Skeleton banging on an equally giant door.

Neither of those things are humans really.


I'll wait for a few minutes. Take this time to collect myself to the musical tones of bone and iron smacking on a massive creepy door.

Soothing. From this height, I feel that these sounds have some nice acoustic qualities to them. Really impressive, probably the arching stone- presents some decent amphitheater-style effects.

Ah... Wow, this recharge time is really slowing down. I must be on the trailing ends of the magic crystal here. I'm not sure if that's a good thing, or a bad thing. Not dying to the horrible feeling of magical fire is well and good, but unlimited magic is also pretty over-powered.

Having at least something going for me was kinda nice.


Maybe I'll hold off on questions for now. Focus on heading to the surface instead.

If I have to decide between eating another crystal and going without a few answers, I think I'll be going without answers.


Chapter 31

Chapter 31

Snake Report: Day Twenty-four


Today is not normal.

It started normal, it made it most of the way normal, but now it is not normal.

I've used most of my magic for the sake of operation [Earth Molding that can pierce the heavens], and I'm now watching from a previously made balcony overlooking the Giant Skeleton and the runic floor.

Only, there is not music to my lack of ears.

There is silence.

For the first time since Hero-Frog, the Giant Skeleton has stopped hitting the creepy door.

Instinct doesn't like this much more than I do. We're both waiting for the traditional horror twist: The evil turn and skull-grin with the smolder of an ancient hatred. Maybe even some dark-gothic theme song in the background.

But that hasn't happened.

I almost wish it would. Just get it all over with so I can stop being so on edge over here. I've already slithered my way up and down the passage I carved out to check the Mushroom tunnel that leads to the Skeleton room, and though there are now a few signs of recent Monster activity, nothing has approached the trap-floor.

No Monster has been brave enough since the Frog.

Yet, the Skeleton is just standing there... Doing nothing. It's perfectly still in the middle of the circular floor of runs.

Still... Watching... Waiting.

For what?

I have no answers to the question, and it's bothering me to no end.

The door?

That's the direction it's staring. Something about the door seems likely, but after trying to break the thing down for who-even-knows how long, I wouldn't expect the Skeleton to just give up on a whim.

Maybe sometimes even Giant Skeleton's need a break. That could be why. Every couple hundred years, he takes a breather from being evil and terrifying, to think about life and such.

Or undead and such. Whatever.

This could be a very important even, like Halley's comet, or a solar eclipse. The type of thing I'll one day tell my grand-snakes.

"Yes little snakelets, your Grandfather was there when the evil Giant Skeleton of the Dungeon took a break. He stood around all day, and did absolutely nothing at all- and by gods did he do it ominously."

Yes, I can see it clearly even now.


No, this is still bothering me. The sudden stop like this, after being consistent for days. Something is different, and I don't like it.

It makes me nervous.

Chapter 32

Chapter 32


"Keep running! Don't stop!" Grant shouted from the distance as Talia smashed the ghoul that blocked their path, clearing way just as the flash of wind magics sparking to light. "THUNDER!"

A gnarled scream met the crack of lightning that streaked through the air. A burst of heat and flame scorched her nostrils and throat as Talia kicked through the second fallen foe. Its bones crumbled under the steel and leather, shattering to fragments.

"We can make it Grant!" She hollered as the faith magics enveloped her weapon again, seals of protection threading along the surface as she rounded the dungeon's narrow corridor. "We can make it!"

"GRAAAA-" Her mace struck down another foe, skull disintegrating under the heavy-handed swing.

"Keep running! Don't stop Talia!" The roar of fire lifted as the man behind her passed into the corridor at breakneck pace. Talia turned just in time to catch the final words of a deep chant, words rolling atop words with a message of power. "Flames and gods, defend this sacred path." The cloaked man lifted his staff, crystal atop its wooden frame blazing with heat as it slammed down towards the distant howls of pursuers: "Wall of Fire."


With a deafening wave, the floor erupted, smoke and heat spiraling down the tight passageways with a deadly hunger. The screams and screeches soon pitched and then feel silence, smoke and fumes all that remained of the creatures that once gave chase as the Wizard feel heavily to the floor.

"Grant!" Talia shouted, turning pace to drag the man back to his feet. With effort, she shouldered him on her left side, glowing mace illuminating their way as she pressed them forward. "Where in god's name are Rodrick and Joan? They should have met back up with us at the rally point!"

"Gone." Heaving the word out, Grant let out a rough hiss as he steadied his feet to free himself from her shoulder to lean upon the wooden staff. "Didn't see it clearly... The Ghouls swarmed them... Joan might have made it. Rodrick was the one holding them back."

Reproachfully, he eyed the weapon in his white-knuckled grip, stare focused on the trails of misting cinder that lofted from the crystal piece affixed to its upper end. Exhaustion was evident.

"Oh Lord of light, Grant your blessing." Talia recited the words quickly as she raised he mace, left hand reaching out to touch the man's ashen forehead. "Heal."

The magic took effect immediately, bruises and weakness fading beneath the warm glow. A sigh escaped his lips, breath escaping and replaced by a deeper breath.

"Can you walk, Grant?" Talia asked quietly. "We're not safe here." Her tone was hushed as eyes aglow with white-magics carried on in a scanning motion: alert and watchful of their surroundings. "I took us down a side-channel when we got cut off. It might take us some time to find our way."

"I can." A stern nod met her question, heavy breathes of the smoke-tainted air drawing in as the man straightened his back. Even healed, he looked as though he'd been thrown off a cliff; bags of tiredness settled heavy on his face. "Do you know the way?" The staff leaned towards the smoldering wreckage of the spell he'd cast. "We can't go back there." The smoke lifted and swirled, thick and oppressive.

There would be no way through that safely, Talia could tell from just a glance. She fumbled through the pouch at her hip with a spare hand, before reaching out to passa small vial of glowing blue to her companion.

"I think so. Here, drink." She gestured with the glass piece, mace settling to point in the opposite direction of the smoke. "Rodrick had the map, but I remember this level well enough. If we can find a major line, I think I can get us back without difficulty."

"Ah..." Tipping back the vial, Grant's eyes seemed to shimmer with the flood of magics that came with it. "So we're not going to die in romantic fashion after-all then?" His grin seemed to glow in the dim light of Talia's magics and the strange dungeon fauna that seemed to settle upon the walls. "That's a crying shame."

"Ha." Talia flashed a grin of her own. "As if- I'll have you know: I plan to die of old age."

"And I myself, being smothered to death by fair maiden's breas-" A light punch to Grant's arms silence him, as Talia pointed their way with a commanding expression.

"Lets get going. I don't think Rodrick's the type to die easy, and if Joan made it back to the rally point alone, you know she'll be a wreck." Her eyes narrowed, as a single hobbling figure emerged from the darkness before them. "Just follow my lead." She muttered, weapon readying.

"Yes Ma'am." Grant replied, humor forgotten.


Chapter 33

Chapter 33

Snake Report: Day Twenty-five


It's difficult to say when it's actually day or night in this Dungeon, but I feel like I've gotten a decent enough handle on it.


With that said, a full day has now passed without the Giant Skeleton moving an inch.

It's just standing there, terrifying as ever, staring at the door.

Much as I want to continue on with operation [Earth Molding that can pierce the heavens] I'm scared to put myself at a disadvantage. I still think it might come down to the classic horror twist. This world has tried to kill me at almost every turn, I don't see why the evil Skeleton would be much different.

There is a theme going here: Everything is deadly. Trust nothing.

So there. No trust. The Giant Skeleton is plotting something. Something terrible.

Something terrible that's going to happen any minute now, any second.


No... Now.

Still no... Soon...


Still, the Giant Skeleton is staring, watching the door.

The door... Maybe that's a hint. It's huge, its covered in runes and carvings that are all rusted over. No visible damage despite the beat-down that I had grown accustomed to, so probably magic.

Flat, no handles. Iron... or metal of some kind. Something that can visibly rust, so it's not Gold or something fancy. Thirty something feet tall, at the very least. Outside of the runic bits and whatever images might have at one point been visible, I'm not really sure I can tell anything else.

But the Giant Skeleton can.

It's waiting for something. It knows something- something that I don't. That's the only thing I can think of. It knows something about that door has changed, and it's waiting...





So that's it.



It was waiting for someone to open the door.

Chapter 34

Chapter 34



In full, it had been at least a day, but possibly more that they had been moving without true rest.

Surviving, sleeping in short shifts, breaking the little bread and dried meats left from Talia's pouch with sullen faces. While one stood watch, the other might close their eyes for the barest of moments before being awoken by a warning of enemies, and forced to continue again.

In short, they were exhausted.

Turn after turn after turn, but none of them lead back to the main passages. Talia herself was starting to run low on strength and magic, but she knew that Grant was even worse off. He'd cast more serious magics in succession than she had ever seen, or attempt for that matter.

Just standing on his own was impressive. A mage without mana was like a warrior without a sword, and possibly a few arrows in the chest; one foot in the grave.

To make matters worse, instead of upward, they'd been forced down. Further and further down. No matter what Talia did, they were harried further into the depths. This many layers down into the Dungeon, she knew even the slightest misstep could be fatal even with a full team. Just the two of them wouldn't stand a chance.

"We need to find a Sanctuary zone." Grant's voice was hoarse as he spoke. "There should be one on this floor nearby if Rodrick's map was right."

"Aye." Talia replied, eyes peering in the dark recesses of shadow ahead of her glowing mace. "Aye, there should be one soon."

It was both a lie, and a truth. Grant was right: There had been one on the map. It had been one layer deeper in the Dungeon than they had reached before getting separated from the others, but it had been there. The only problem was she'd long since lost any clues to where they were.

Even if she kept a stoic face, it didn't change the facts: They were completely and utterly lost.


Talia froze, holding at the next intersecting passage with a feeling of dread. Peeking around the stone, she could see and hear what was feared. Another monster swarm, Tar-spiders this time. Beneath their onslaught, some unfortunate creature cried out as their fangs sunk in to pass the paralyzing poisons with a pitiful "Craaaaaa..."

"We're going left." Talia whispered, nodding quickly to Grant's waiting stare. She couldn't believe how tired he looked. Face sunken, exhaustion teetering on the edge of collapse. She held a forced grin as she continued. "Right are some Tar-spiders, left looks like it widens out to a larger passage-way. It might be the Sanctuary."

Potions could only take a mage so far, eventually they would need to rest. His mana reserves were probably at their wit's end.

"Lets go." Grant replied, weak nod passing agreement and feet trailing softly behind her own as they crept forward.

Talia steeled herself for the end with each quiet step. She awaited the cry of hunger from some unseen monstrocity, the sound of motion or ambush with every twising corner.

But none came.

Instead the hall did widen. It grew larger, and larger, and larger still. It passed into a massive tunnel-byway, carved stone molded with giant bricks; as if some ancient castle had once stood where they now tread.

Perhaps it had, for all Talia knew of the world's history. Behind he, she could see Grant staring in bewildered and exhausted wonder.

"Where in all the seven hells have we wandered, Talia?" He whispered quietly, hand tracing along the stone of the cavern. "Work like this... no I've ever known Dungeon can manifest something of this nature."

"The ancients then?" No monsters seemed to show, but neither did Talia's guard settle. This place lacked the familiar hum of magics often associated to the precious zones of Sanctuary, and the floor had not a single rune, instead falling to bricks of heavy stone. It was as if they were in a castle. A structure of hands and design, deep beneath the earth.

"It might just be..." The haggard reply settled into huffing breaths, ending their conversation as they continued on into the unknown hall. "A sunken portion of a city... certainly from before the Empire if I'm to interpret the architecture. I know people have found similar things before."

"Turn out well for them?"

"I'd say it's an even-split between rich and dead."

They settled back to silence after that, neither willing to attract unwanted attention. After an hour of marching, without a single monster approaching or blocking their path, finally Talia forced them to stop. Turning to Grant, she grinned as she watched his head tilt back, eyes widening in awe at the strangeness before them.

A giant set of doors, arching up ten wide paces high and covered in the ancient scripts of long-forgotten runes. The familiar hum of magics settled atop the stone with a static filled buzz, almost music-like in quality.

"Do you think this is it?" Talia asked, staring at the tired man beside her. "Or is it something else?"

"Well... We can't be sure, but..." Grant let his hand fall to stroke the thin hairs of an approaching beard coming in atop his chin and jaw. Tired as he was, his eyes seemed to hold the glimmer Talia often saw in him when he was running at full-strength. The look of excitement, that turned to her with a wide smile as he pulled free one last vial from his belt.

"There's only one way to find out, isn't there?"

Chapter 35

Chapter 35

Snake Report:


The door opened.


Doors actually, as I now slither corrected.

It was two the whole time, meeting on the center line in a pair. The surface was so covered in rust and magical weirdness I couldn't even tell after starting at it for days.

But the door, or the doors, those don't matter now. They don't matter at all compared to what just wandered directly into the Giant Skeleton's floor trap.


Two tired looking, exhausted, beaten-up and dirt-covered, people: A warrior-woman of some kind, and a Mage that looks like Gandalf in his late-twenties. They marched right in like a couple of bad-asses, determined looks and grim-set faces staring down the unknown.

Then the barrier activated, and they spent a good ten seconds just staring in slacked jawed horror as the evil-theme music started to play.

Just kidding: no theme music actually started to play. That's just my human-side imagination running a bit wild.

Watching from my lower-balcony roost, overlooking this affair at Giant head-level, I find it difficult not to pity them.

Snake-side instinct doesn't care about humans at all, but I've got a whole mental and spiritual frame-work in common with them. I was a human for about 25 years before the Tiny-Snake-God granted me a second chance at life.

Watching two humans get slaughtered into fine red paste isn't something I'm looking forward to.

Not one bit. Hero-Frog was more than enough to check the pink-mist medallion off my bucket list.

Still, I can't look away.

It's like target fixation and Morbid curiosity: All rolled up into one. There are humans! Here! In this god-awful dungeon! We're easily hundreds of feet from the surface, and yet somehow there are people?

Does this mean something? Does this hold significance? Is this a blessing sent by the tiny-snake god?

If they die, will I have missed a chance for a better life?

I don't know, but as I watch from the balcony of cliff and stone:

The battle is starting.


Chapter 36

Chapter 36


"A trap." Grant cursed beneath his breath as he raised his staff. "Of course it would be a trap."

"Oh, Holy guardian of Light."


Talia began her chant even as the growing sensation of horror began to over-take confidence.


"Grant me strength to protect. If others are your sword, I am your Shield"


The white magics flowed, a layer almost like glass forming with the essences of mana as they domed over; rising from the ground like a bubble. Focusing her mind, she began to channel mana further, steady drain pulling down.


"It's not just a trap Grant." She managed to reply, eyes focused ahead at the approaching monstrosity. Each step towards them seemed to shake her bones, strumming through her chest like the beats of a drum. Still, she kept on, letting the glow of white magics intensify. "Look at the floor: this is a Sancuary."


"This is a pretty sorry excuse for a Sancuary, Talia." Grant spoke as energy collected atop the crystal piece of his weapon, eyes focused on the rising shape of a Giant monstrocity just now taking its first step. "Not exactly hospitable, compared to the ones I remember."

"We were on the run for a long time, I think must have gone down into an undiscovered layer." Talia poured her magics into the shield above their heads, imbuing it with faith. "All of the ancient sites of the dungeon originally possessed guardians."

"Guardians huh? Never through we'd be the types that went racing ahead of the expedition teams." More mana collected into the staff, torchlight and smoke burning atop the piece with the craft of a master-magician. "How much gold do you think a Sancuary is worth?"

"More than you can spend Grant. Do we have a plan?"

"Well, we have a choice to make." His hands lifted the wooden piece, muscles on his forearms stretching to their limits as the glow intensified. "I either try to break us out of the barrier by the doors, or I hit this thing really hard. Either way I'm going to be spent, this is everything."

"You're leaving this to me?" Talia almost lost her focus, mana slipping before the flow rightened itself again to continue their defense. Onward it went, with layer upon layer of faith blanketing the air above them.

"It's a Skeleton. It's roots are almost certainly in the chaos of black-magics, and not nature." Grant's voice trembled as the feeling of mana-burn seemed to radiate into the air above his head. "And even if we run back out, we both know there's slim chances we're going make it back up to the higher layers. If you're willing to fight, we'll fight."

"Grant..." Talia closed her eyes as she poured out the last readying spell of defense, opening them once more to a dome of milky white crystal. Beyond the strange translucent fog of purified mana, she could barely even see the beast approaching. All she could feel was the drumming steps.




This was her stongest skill. Of all the faith magics, the barrier was one Talia had always felt an affinity with. Truly, layered as it was now, the shield of white-mana was likely strong enough that could turn any normal undead to flame in cinder just by touching it. Perhaps in its current state, it might rival a lesser Saint-class miracle, but even so: she doubted it would be enough.




The steps approached, each more terrifying than the last. This was no ordinary undead. Whatever creature coming for them was something far more sinister.

Grant was right.

They were veteran adventurers. They were members of one of the strongest free-lance teams operating in the continent, and had more than enough experience to back such a claim- but this would be the last time they could fight at full strength. To run was to die slow, to fight was a chance.

The floor guardian before them was at a disadvantage to their professions, not a giant spider or beast- but an undead. Her affinity might be enough to pull a victory, but backing out and trying to flee would likely only earn them a slow and miserable death. It was now, or never.

"We fight." Talia whispered.

"That'a girl." Grant replied. "Let's give it hell."

"Blood and thunder."

Chapter 37

Chapter 37

Snake Report:



Magic things are happening.

The suspense is terrible.

Thiss is real deal, crazy impressive, magical stuff.

The kind I remember seeing in movies. A battle for the history books: Two heroes versus the great ancient evil.

Compared to the Earth Molding and the Q&a talks I've been having, this is on a different level.

As the Giant Skeleton has made its approach, the two humans have readied themselves. I've never seen anything like it.

The human duo made a shield of some kind by the door, and though looking through it got a little difficult after a few seconds, I definitely manages to see something going on with young-gandalf and his staff.

I think something crazy is about to happen. Maybe an all out wombo-combo style attack.

Either good, or bad. I can't tell yet.

That remains up to the Giant Skeleton, his giant-fists and wrist shackles.



And the fist comes down-



It's on fire. Holy smokes, the Giant's arm is on fire. The other arm is coming down now, but that shield magics holding up to it.



Wow. That's some crazy barrier.

It's looking a bit less white and foggy than before though.



Ah, the Skeleton is really on fire now. It's looks a bit like Burning man, flames reaching up its arms and covering its shoulders and head.

Can they really kill it? A immortal monster like that doesn't exactly seem the type that will go down with a bit of heat.

There's a price to pay too, That shield is almost gone. If I called it a bubble before, it's about to pop. Almost invisible compared to the white orb that was in place at the start.

Ah... I see it.

That was the plan all along.

This was all to bide time.

To stall for young Gandalf.




The shout was overwhelmed as the magic erupted over Talia's head, passing force knocking her to her knees as the shield released from the inside out.

With impact that shook the white fires of faith free to the air of the giant room, the Skeleton shuddered, its chest agape as the magic forced its way inside, pulsing and burning a path of fury. Yellow, blue, red and orange mixed in a single pillar of force that surged from the crystal piece atop Grant's staff. Even as he too fell towards the ground, his hands clutched the wood, barely capable of kneeling as the magic continued.

"NOW TALIA! DO IT NOW!" His shouted command was barely a whisper over the roar of magics, but Talia moved all the same, responding with all her remaining effort.

As the last whispers and sputters of the magic fell to their ends in threads and spitfire, She rose with her Mace held high to shout the crucial words. "TURN UNDEAD!"


"GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-" The Giant Skeleton howled in agony, head thrown back and arms raised towards the distant ceiling as the magic struck it- but it was not enough. Again Talia shouted:




Her words lashed out with the glow of faith. Her power crucial ability as a paladin, a weapon against the scourge that haunts mankind. "TURN UNDEAD!" It stuck out again, and again. "TURN UNDEAD!"


Behind her, the clatter of a staff rolling upon polished stone confirmed what she already knew. Grant slumped to the floor unconscious, completely spent by his massive efforts. How he'd even had so much power left, Talia didn't know, but she knew that it was down to this last spell.

Mace raised high with all of her remaining strength, she shouted the last of her magics:




As her energy left her, she stared as the great Skeleton fell to the ground before her. As if crumpling beneath its own weight, it slouched downward, flaming fists of bone and shackles landing to either side of her weakened stance. The Skull, too, approached. In the dark caverns of its eyes she could see smoldering coals of hatred. Black and desperate things, raging against the pain that had lashed out upon its body of bleached bones.

Then, the flames atop its chest, its arms and shoulders, faded. It began to rise.

Talia held her ground, knees shaking along the effort just to stand as it towered upward before her. Higher and higher, back to its full stance, easily thirty paces of scorched and ashen bone. Egregiously wounded, but not defeated, that hated smolder looked down at her with such pressure it threatened to break her very spirit.

To her soul, and to the unconscious Grant behind her, Talia offered a silent prayer. They had done all they could. They had thrown everything they had, and come up short. Eyes wide, she waited for the end, mace ready to strike out with one final swing as a massive fist raised high for the coming downward motion.

The end came- only to cease.

Eyes open to the final blow, Talia watched in awe as a terrible great fire erupted from afar: giant skeleton shattered beneath the blow of a terrible flame. Hollow eyes raged their last as the ghostly green fires surging with relentless pressure and wicked heat that reduced the massive bones to nothing more than dust and slag.

From the distant direction which the sudden blast had come from, she could see the slightest glow of blue seemed to watch, staring intently from the dark stone of the dungeon wall. A beautiful and crystal blue, observing those beneath it.

Then, the strength she'd pressed far beyond her normal limits fell to gray, fading with the last light of her magics. Talia's legs gave out, then her knees, and then even her head slumped to the cold surface of the polish runic floor.

Without a further thought or question to how or why, she embraced by the sweet comfort of nothingness.


Chapter 38

Chapter 38

Snake Report: Day Twenty-six



[Level 40]


[BRANCH: Magic Being]



[Toxic] - Toxic Flesh. Dangerous is consumed.
[Crystalline scales] - Increased Defense
[Omnivore] - Capable of eating non-monster food-stuffs.
[Affinity of Flame] - Bonded to the Element.
[Legendary] - A rare being. Not often seen, known only to Legend.






[Poison resistance: Rank X]
[Fire resistance: Rank II] - Affinity*
[Mana resistance: Rank XX]



[Passive Healing XX] - Automatically being to recover from injuries. Mana drained as a result.
[Heal I] - Third rank of healing.
[Flame element] - Affinity*
[Leviathan breath II] - Rare ability. Advanced variation of [Flame Breath]
[Fireball II] - A ball of flame, capable of long-range.
[Earth element]
[Earth Molding V] - Second spell rank of [Earth Manipulation]
[Water element]
[Water Manipulation I] - Ability to actively mold and shape water.
[Knowledge element]
[Voice of Gaia VI] - Knowledge embodiment. Spirit of the world.
[Divine element]
[Royal Spirit of Man] - Acquired.

So... I did something.

In memory of Hero-Frog, Vengeance was swift and righteous. I was an instrument, a tool for the Tiny-Snake-god's wrath.

The Giant Skeleton is defeated.

The two humans almost did it on their own, I think they actually might have come pretty close. One more hit, maybe.

But then they ran out of steam.

Young Gandalf basically used hyper-beam, then took an immediate dirt-nap. The paladin let loose one heck of an opened-can of "Turn undead" on the Skeleton, but I guess being an evil immortal Giant has some perks.

On fire, rib-cage displaces and chain-smoking magic fumes, peppered with the white glow of some sort of holy-faith laying an all-mighty beat down on it: The Skeleton just didn't die.

I'm not sure if I should call myself a kill and credit-stealing bastard, or a hero.

A bit of both, maybe?

Tiny-Snake-God forgives though.

It's alright.

Morallity is in the eye of the beholder anyways, and really that's just me because neither of the humans have woken up since the fight. They're just sort of laying there, like rag-dolls. All limp-limbed at what not.

I went about my daily upward expansion operation as normal, came back, and they're still there.

Out-cold by the creepy door.

A door, which is open- by the way. There is a long and ominously dark hallway beyond it. Probably a whole section of the Dungeon that has been shut-away for centuries.

Now, I'm not totally heartless. I was a human once. I really don't think I have a tremendous amount in common with these people, considering when I was a human Magic was a Hollywood and Television only sort of thing, but I'd help them if I could.

But I'm not sure that's going to work out.

The problem is that they're laying on the creepy floor, which now gives off a different vibe of paranoia-inducing sensations than it did before. A sort of "Your kind is not welcome here" type of feeling that bothers my monster-instincts a whole bunch.

It's weird, but not "You'll get trapped and crushed beneath a giant's fist" sort of weird. More like a "Don't walk on this, you're not supposed to sort of weird."

But in that, lies the problem. Literally.

Those two humans are still unconscious, and I'm starting to wonder if they'll die. Its been a day or so, if my concept of time is even somewhat accurate. They're in bad shape.


Chapter 39

Chapter 39


Talia awoke to the sweet burning of mana, and the smoking trails of recent flame.

In her lungs, in her nose. It was as if all her strength had suddenly been returned, and then some. It actually hurt, like the air was just slightly too hot to breathe.

"We're... Alive?"

Beside her, Grant stirred, head turning towards her as he slowly sat up. Beside them, his staff lay quietly beside patches of dust and ash.

"Talia... You killed it?" Sitting up further, he seemed incredulous, eyes locked to Talia's own with a look of true surprise. "You killed it!" He repeated the words, only this time not a question- but a fact. Standing on wobbly knees, Grant picked up his staff, shoulders heaving with laughter. "Ha! Oh if Rodrick and Joan could see us now! By the Light Talia! You've cleared a new floor- probably the first one in over a hundred years! You're a bloody hero for the History books! You're a living legend! If we get to the surface alive, we're going to have Royalty knocking on your door!"

"Now wait a second." Sitting up carefully, Talia coughed at the rich air. It was fading now, but still harsh on her tongue and throat. "Wait just a minute, ack-" She heaved out another cough. "Grant, I don't think I did."

"You don't think you did?" The Wizard turned to her, arms spread wide to gesture at the dust and metal fragments scattered across the floor. "What do you call this? It's certainly not alive and trying to murder us." He kicked at the partial fragment, iron and rust perhaps once belonging to a giant wrist-cuff. "If you didn't kill it, who did?"

Rolling over, Talia felt her hand run along shards of glass. Among the dust and bone fragments, blue tinted pieces of crystal seemed scattered about, settled among a tiny smoldering impact on the floor beside her. Curiously, she picked up one large portion, raising it to the ambient light of the fauna that glowed along the walls and ceiling.

"Hey now, is that a Mana Stone?" Grant leaned in, squinting as he plucked another one of the shards off the floor. "Wow. Talia, you know how much some of these pieces could go for?" Carefully, he picked up another shard, pecking the ground with his free hand like a hen. "Each one of these could make twenty... no- Thirty mana potions. Light and Gods, just these and we've got ourselves enough money for a year. Do you know lucky this is?"


Talia coughed out the last of the sickly-sweet air, breathing in deep as she wiped her cheek. Uncertainly, she stared out along the far wall, opposite to the door, catching the faintest flash of glowing blue before it disappeared.

"I can't say I do." Talia replied honestly.


Chapter 40

Chapter 40

Snake Report: DayTwenty-seven? I'm not really sure anymore.


The two humans have woken up and made camp in the middle of the rune-covered floor.

Coming clean here: I might have had something to do with it.

It took some ingenuity.

Camp Big-Foot ground level, I tried to see what would happen if I put the tip of my tail down on the room's floor. It was an experiment, just a curiosity to know if it was just all in my head.


Well, my tail started smoking almost immediately. Those pretty blue scales of mine were singed like I'd gone and rolled it around in hot coals.

It seems that the terrain is most certainly not-ok for me to enter. Strangely enough, it seems that the Humans are unaffected. When I asked [Voice of gaia] "what gives?" The magic replied with "[Sanctuary space]" so I'm out on a non-existent limb and write this up as intended.

The Big-bad-boss was defeated, and now the heroic adventurers have a safe space to rest. That sounds about right.

To me, anyways.

So, how did I wake up the humans? There's a question with an interesting answer.

In the abbreviated story, I threw a rock at them. When it landed, the rock broke and they huffed some of the fumes.

I'm a bit proud of this, mostly because I lack arms so throwing should have been impossible. I can pick things up with my tail, but it's still a bit tricky to lob anything with accuracy.

So I got creative.

Against my better judgement, I put another one of those glowing crystals in my mouth. Then I spit the thing so hard it practically exploded on impact.

I call it: [Fire-ball II: Rock-launching]

First try, one shot. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

But I'm a bit nervous now.


Some things only become obvious upon reflection, you know? The details I was casually overlooking for the sake of species preference.

I'm a snake.

More accurately, I'm a snake Monster in a deep and evil cave where everything is out to kill just about everything else.

Further: One of those humans shot a stright up hyper-beam when they were probably already half-beaten to death.

They're dangerous.

I'm "Dangerous"

Kin-ship aside, we're not about to hold hands/tails and sing kumbaya. Hissing polite formalities at them will probably give them decent reason to try and murder me.

I'd rather not be murdered.

Operation [Earth Molding towards the heavens] seems like a safer bet than human interactions for now.


I'll observe from afar in the meantime.