~ Chapter 29: The final countdown (Part 1) ~

[Kleo’s point of view]

“Hm, it appears there are some strange individuals coming our way. One is a Paladin and the other an unawakened dragon, but he is quite strong.” said the man as he looked at the floating crystal.

From where I was sitting, I couldn’t see the crystal, but I had my guesses who those two could be. The only two people who were next to me when I got sent here were Alkelios and Iolaus. If it was my sister’s lover, then he would certainly come over to save me, but the Paladin was probably aiming at severing his ties with me… for good.

In the past few hours since I woke up in this place, I came to realize a couple of things.

First of all, these shackles were powerful enough to keep my magic at bay and sturdy enough to resist when I pulled on them with all of my strength. Although I could easily bend a human’s steel sword, I was unable to rip these shackles apart.

Second of all, this necromancer wasn’t controlling the Dungeon. In fact, it was actively trying to destroy him, but he welcomed the attacks. Using a strange spell, he sent all the groups of monsters aiming for his life somewhere else.

The first time I saw it was not long after I woke up. Two skeletons rushed into this room, but he simply held out his hands towards them and spoke in a strange language. In that moment, I felt the flow of Magic Energy shifting, and the monsters vanished. This event was repeated time and time again, but I never found out where exactly they were being sent.

The last thing I found out was the reason as to why he wasn’t killing me immediately. If he didn’t want to destroy his own Magic Energy channels, he had to give himself time to adjust to the latest energy he absorbed before trying it again. In other words, my time was limited if I didn’t free myself from these shackles or someone came to save me.

On the bright side of things, he was planning on absorbing my Magic Energy only two days from now. It was more than enough time for my friends to come over and rescue me. Even so, I wasn’t planning on sitting quietly until they did, I kept struggling with the shackles in an attempt to loosen them up a bit. My wrists hurt from my struggles, but even if I were to break them, I didn’t plan on giving up.

“Maybe I should send a boss their way?” the man pondered.

“Why are you doing this?” I asked him.

“Why should I tell you?” he snorted and then looked back at me. “Nothing is 100% certain, dragon. They may still have a trump card up their sleeves, that’s why I won’t reveal any information regarding what I did and what I plan on doing. If you can guess, so be it. But I won’t either confirm or deny it.” he smirked back at me.

This man wasn’t planning on letting me know anything. He was careful and saw our lives as nothing more than a way to boost his own power. As such, I didn’t have any sort of doubt that he was the type to mercilessly kill all of us to obtain what he desired. My only worry was whether or not we were strong enough to defeat him.

[Alkelios’ point of view]

It’s been a couple of hours since we were transported here. My [Dragon Tamer] tracking function would have been a good thing to use if we were on an open field, however, there were two problems with using it. On one hand, it was set to track Seryanna, and on the other hand, it was useless in a maze. At the moment, it was pointing behind me… at the ceiling.

“Aren’t you tired yet?” asked Iolaus as he leaned on a wall while I was picking up the loot from our recent kill.

“Not really…” I shrugged.

“You are a monster, and you aren’t even awakened yet.” he shook his head.

After our last bout, which resulted in me pummeling him into the ground, he kept quiet most of the time and when he spoke, he said things like that.

“I’m done. Let’s go.” I said as I continued to move on.

The dragon groaned and whipped his tail in the air to show his annoyance. I ignored him and continued to march through those never-ending tunnels.

The monsters varied from time to time, but the basic groups constituted of zombies, skeletons, and maybe a Lich or Dullahan. The other type of monsters we encountered were the giant undead scorpions, the undead snakes, and a drunk skeleton piano player. That last one was no joke. We actually encountered a drunk skeleton who played on the piano, and he was quite good too. We didn’t kill him, just quietly walked up around him.

As for bosses, there were none. We did arrive in what could be called a boss room, but it was empty. The chests were all empty along the way too, almost as if someone already went through this place and emptied it out right before we got there. Besides the nuggets and black dust, I didn’t bother with collecting anything else because there was nothing else to collect, not even a rusty sword or damaged shield.

Another thing I noticed was how often we encountered these undead groups. Instead of finding them in each room, we were lucky if we found a group once every 4 or 5 rooms. As for the tunnels, they were mostly empty. This led me to believe that maybe if not surely, we were quite lucky to spot those two groups when we got teleported here.

“Hey, Paladin Iolaus, did you ever visit another dungeon besides this one?” I asked him.

“While this may be the first time I entered this particular dungeon, I am experienced with other dungeons.” he declared proudly.

“Really? How often did you encounter monsters in those dungeons?” I asked him without turning my head around.

“Quite often actually. I am a bit surprised by the scarcity of the groups here. Normally, you don’t find only one or two groups now and then.” he said as he looked down at the remains of the last group we killed.

“How many then?” I asked.

“You know… I don’t get it. You are incredibly powerful, yet I can tell you never stepped into a dungeon before.” he said and then shook his head.

“Aaand that matters why?” I asked raising an eyebrow back at him.

“Well… It’s just that from what I know, an unawakened dragon can’t get that powerful without training in a dungeon.” he explained and squinted his eyes at me.

“I lived in the Seculiar Forest until now.” I told him immediately.

In the few days I spent away from Seryanna, I did wonder what I was going to tell those dragons who didn’t know my secret, yet kept asking how I got so strong. One option was to say that I was trained in some far away dungeon, while the other was to say I lived in the Seculiar Forest. That place was known by all species to be one of the most dangerous places in the explored world. If it was the MOST dangerous in the whole world, it was debatable. Judging from what Seryanna told me about that Neutral aligned species who created dungeons, it was highly likely that on their continent, they had something far scarier than the Seculiar Forest.

Iolaus didn’t say anything else after I told him that. We continued to walk through the dungeon and killed off any monsters that popped in our way. For most of the time, I worried for Kleo’s safety. With Kataryna up on the surface, I was certain my redhead dragoness wasn’t going to get into too much trouble on her own.

The village was probably safe as well for the time being, but something felt terribly off about this entire dungeon. The amount of monsters outside was outrageous, and they kept popping up one after another. They were like an endless wave, but why were they attacking in the first place?

Why now? I thought after I destroyed another group.

“Where could Thraherkleyoseya be?” asked Iolaus, and did I actually sense a hint of worry in the tone of his voice?

“Not here by the looks of it. She’s probably deeper inside the dungeon…” I said as I picked up the nuggets and ignored the dust.

“Why would a Dungeon abduct someone from the surface?” he asked.

“Doesn’t stuff like this happen often?” I asked.

“No. Never! I have never heard of anything like this!” he shook his head.

“Is that so? Then maybe it wasn’t the Dungeon who did this…” I thought and scratched the back of my head.

While looking at the path ahead of me, I began to wonder if maybe this Dungeon also felt that it was in danger and was trying to attack the other threat. If that was so, then it was wasting a lot of energy against us here.

Letting out a sigh, I looked up at the ceiling.

“Can a Dungeon understand our words?” I asked.

“I don’t know… What are you thinking?” Iolaus asked as he moved away from the wall he was leaning against.

“Something… strange.” I replied.

If this works, then I’m a genius, if not… at least I tried. I wish for this Dungeon to help us find Kleo. I closed my eyes as I expressed that wish, letting the 100 Luck do its job, when I opened my eyes, I looked at the path ahead of me.

“Shall we go?” asked Iolaus.

“Not yet.” I then took a deep breath and shouted at the top of my lungs “Dungeon! I know you can hear and understand me!” I stopped and squinted my eyes.

“What are you doing?” Iolaus asked.

“Sh! Don’t interrupt me.” I shooed him away.

The Paladin crossed his arms and leaned on the wall next to me.

“Fine! Be crazy on your own.” he scorned.

I ignored him, and shouted at the Dungeon again “We are not your enemies! We wish to retrieve our friend, the black-scaled dragoness and leave this place! If you clear a path for us, even if it’s next to your core, you have my promise that I won’t try to destroy or harm you!”

“You maybe.” Iolaus commented with a smirk.

“You too, if you don’t want me to rearrange the bones in your body.” I threatened him.

“Ugh… fine… me too.” he looked away and muttered something inaudible.

I continued “If there’s someone down there who keeps her against her will and at the same time is using your monsters to attack the surface, I will try to defeat him! So, will you let us pass and show us the way, Dungeon?”

This was my plan, but also a very long shot in the dark.

Of course, who would believe that someone like me could talk some sense into an artificial creation with the only purpose of trying to eradicate all the adventurers daring to challenge her? Well, I was sort of betting on the idea that maybe… just maybe, this Dungeon had an intelligence of sorts that could balance out the threats. If our status was changed from Enemy to Ally, then it would focus all of its energy on aiding us, not killing us. Of course, it could also just ignore us, but that was fine as well.

A few minutes later, Iolaus let out a sigh.

“See! It didn’t work!” he scoffed.

“Let’s wait a little longer… maybe it’s thinking.” I told him.

“How to kill us maybe?” he smirked.

“It’s better than nothing…” I groaned.

“Well, I’m telling you, you are crazy! Something like talking to a Dungeon is prepooaAAA!” Iolaus wasn’t able to finish his sentence as the wall behind him suddenly vanished and he fell on his back.

“You were saying?” I said as I walked over to him and showed him a smirk.

“This… This can’t be! I never heard of anything like this!” he said a bit bewildered as he got back up on his feet.

“It’s a bit logical if you think about it. We aren’t technically the Dungeon’s enemies. We only want Kleo back not to conquer this place.” I shrugged and walked ahead.

There was a straight path leading down. The walls were straight, barely illuminated by fluorescent crystals, but there were no traps or monsters on it. We still kept our guard up, but it was clear that this path was made for us in order to reach the one who was currently identified as an Enemy. My only question was if we were confronting a single individual or a group.

“Be on your guard, Iolaus… We don’t know what’s up ahead.” I told him.

“That’s Paladin Iolaus, and I know what’s up ahead, a trap… I’m certain you led us straight into a trap!” he scoffed, but I ignored him.

To be safe, I did use my 100 Luck.

I wish we’ll get out of this place safely. Although I hate it, I also wish for things to be resolved between Kleo and Iolaus. This hate between them is nonsensical… just like my lack of desire to further Advance and Improve my [Dragon Tamer] skill. I thought.

Note from the author: Thank you for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and be sure to check out my other stories too!

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