Although Mu’s resolution to restrict his hunting grounds would undoubtedley lead to boredom and repetitiveness, occasionally something new would spring up to try and kill him.  For example, these little fellas, named Gnawer Shreths by some insane zoologist, certainly appear to be fearsome critters, what with their spiked carapaces and bizarre clown noses.  However, they were not much more dangerous than your average drudge skulker, especially when dealt with in the standard method for honorable adventurers:  unloading attacks on them while their backs are turned.  Chivalry ho!

One of the reasons Mu likes to hang out at the grotto is to help out new suckers… err, adventurers, who can often be found in the grotto, carefully hunting down skulkers and running away from the larger drudgekin near the end of the grotto run.  Usually, the only reward for this sort of activity is a lame feeling of self-satisfaction, but occasionally you get surprised.  Mu had discovered a decent copper short sword in a chest and given it to Gwynyth, who was seemingly a rogue in need.  As it tuned out, Gwynyth must have known a mage or something, as she traded information about the elusive 2nd circle of magic for this boon.  Excited as ever, Mu ran through to the end of the grotto, almost got killed in his haste, and barely escaped to the surface to plan a trip to a larger city with a well-stocked apothecary.
Fortunately, the men of Sho are amazingly flexible as regards sleep, and Mu’s long periods of "disconnection" from consciousness made up for times like this, where his rash nature causes him to fly off down the north road in the niddle of the night, following only the moons and a vague idea that a city might be out there somewhere.  As he was ambushed again and again by drudges, rats, reedsharks, and common farm animals, he began to wonder if he should have bothered to plan this trip more carefully.
What is it with drudges?  Mu had seen and killed so many of the damn things he would have sworn they should have become extinct by now, or at least on an endangered species list.  The only answer was that they must reproduce extremely quickly, a theory that seemed confirmed when Mu stumbled across a couple of snoozing drudge slinkers, exhausted from the effort of propagating the constantly-slaughtered brood.  A quick look at his continental map showed that not only was Mu in the heart of drudge breeding-grounds, he was only about 1/3 of the way to the next town.  Frustrated, he ran the long way back to Shoushi, cursing himself and trying to figure out a way to get to a major city without walking through a monster bordello.
Duri to the rescue.  Duri Gallant, by now a regular figure around the Shoushi blacksmith’s shop, had never been to Sawato, a slightly larger town to the northwest of Shoushi, and was always looking for a travel companion.  Mu agreed, believing that the well-traveled Duri might know a quick way utilizing surface-to-surface portals, which although still distasteful, were less hazardous by far than the accursed subterranean adventurer-eaters.  Mu was a bit dismayed by the fact that Duri had no idea where a portal there might be, but instead planned to run the whole way.  Sighing, Mu cinched up his belt around his soft town gut and prepared to do another marathon, taking small comfort in the fact that he would not be going though any of those blasted swirling purple traps.
Travelling with Duri was a good deal for Mu, as not only was the former an accomplished swordsman, but also a trained archer.  Archery, although difficult to become proficient in, was an excellent means to exploit typical monster tactics, which involved chasing a manaless and screaming Mu around in circles while the latter cursed his habit of dumping every spell he had as quickly as possible, leaving him nothing more than a decoy in Duri’s shooting gallery.

Sawato turned out to be an unremarkable town, but it did have a local archmage who gladly took most of Mu’s cash in exchange for some foul reagents, most of which were burned immediately in fruitless experimentation.  Studying mages were the backbone of the useless item economy in Dereth, and Mu had a suspicion that many of the self-titled "archmages" who ran the herb shops were nothing more than charlatans, as he had never seen one cast a single spell, yet they shamelessly took outrageous sums of money for candles, flowers, bits of metal, and powdered rocks.  After about 2000 pyraels had been washed down the drain, Mu had finally broken through, with knowledge of a new spell that was really far less efficient than anything he had already.  Sigh… back to Shoushi.

One thing that’s especially nice about Dereth is its atmospheric effects.  "Look at that sunset…" marveled Mu, causing Duri to also gaze at it.  So inspired was Mu that he began to compose a haiku while running towards the glow, but all that eventually came out of his mouth was, "AAAAAAAAAH", as he had run directly into a veritable army of creatures in his distraction.  Banderlings, gromnies, big drudges, monougas… Duri did his best to run interference for Mu as the inattentive mage scrambled through the trees for the relative safety of the road, fearing that Duri might lose his life defending him, yet too pitifully weak to realistically do anything about it.  Fortunately, Duri survived, and the two had a laugh about the situation as they dressed their various gushing arterial wounds.
And so eventually Mu and Duri made it back to Shoushi, where Mu begged off further antics in favor of some much-needed sleep.  It had been quite a day… Mu had seen the countryside, learned a new trick, engaged in myriad battles, almost gotten killed, and basically ran around like an idiot.  Relishing the experience of travelling across Dereth by foot and taking in its experiences, he resolved that from now on he would plan his journeys ahead of time, and make generous use of surface portals.

 

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