~ Chapter 32: Fire. Blood. Trust (Part 2) ~
After Dankyun cast his Supreme Skill, the sky was filled with fireballs ready to pound the ground into oblivion. They were all aimed at the Magic Academy where the dungeon core was at. In just one strike, he was planning to obliterate any form of resistance against him.
Excited to see this skill in action, I climbed up a tall tree and watch the scene from the top. When the first fireballs struck the ground, a series of loud explosions was heard. The wind blew hard from that direction, bringing with it a wave of heat. The ground shook, and the entire forest trembled in front of the draconian’s might. I smirked and watch the area being lit up by the attack.
In just a little over a minute, everything was reduced to ash in that area. The forest was ablaze and because of the flames, I couldn’t really see the entirety of the damage he had caused, but surely nothing could have survived such an attack. Both the dungeon core and the whiny princess were sure to have perished burned alive by those flames.
I jumped back down and took out a Dungeon Level Detection Stone. There was no doubt the dungeon was gone, and I was expecting to see no reaction from it, but instead what I saw was the number 86 appearing in a golden light.
“Impossible…” I said.
“What’s wrong, sister?” asked Shenner.
“The dungeon… it survived the attack.” I said and with a gulp, I looked over at Dankyun.
He was smiling, no, he was grinning like a maniac and looking straight at my stone. It was quite possible he didn’t expect his attack to annihilate the dungeon core, but he just wanted to obliterate the entire area. I gulped again.
“Your orders, master?” I asked him.
“Search for the dungeon core. NOW!” he shouted at us.
I nodded and together with my sister, we ran off. To find the core, we had to use a Dungeon Core Locator Stone or spell. Once used, the dungeon would also become aware of it. If we wanted to attack it, we couldn’t use stealth with it.
But where did it hid it’s last dungeon? I’m certain we checked everywhere around this place… No wait, we couldn’t find that many monsters in that area, and there were signs of attacks all over the place, but we never did find the one who engaged those monsters. Whoever it was, was strong. I thought as I dashed through the forest right behind Shenner, who led the way.
“Over there!” she shouted, and I looked in the direction she pointed at.
We stopped in front of what looked like the entrance of a dungeon.
“It doesn’t appear to have more than four, maybe five levels…” she said.
“I’ll let Dankyun know of this place.” I lifted my hand up and released a [Seeker Fireball] spell, letting it explode above us to act as a signal for him.
“Should we wait for him or go in?” Shenner asked.
“Let’s go in.” I said and went inside, carefully climbing down the flight of stairs.
It was a long way down, but it was carefully lit, at least at the entrance. Using a skill or potion that granted us night vision would allow us to move without the need of a torch. Those things were rather bothersome because they limited your field of view to the surrounding area.
Once at the first level, we were met with two paths. One was to the left, and the other was to the right. We were just about to head in both directions when suddenly the wall slid to the left, revealing a third corridor.
“What just happened?” asked Shenner.
“The dungeon is inviting us in…” I said.
This was unexpected, but it worked for us. There were many adversaries who were stupid enough to underestimate us. Once we passed through, however, the wall blocked us off. It mattered not though.
“Lava? On the first floor?”
What? That’s impossible! I said in my mind as I walked up to Shenner, but she didn’t lie.
In front of us laid a path of lava, and the only way to cross was to jump on some platforms. I could see the opened door on the other side. It was an easy feat to either jump over it or use the platforms.
“Sister, look!” Shenner pointed to my left.
Looking at what she was pointing at, I noticed with a great surprise the following message:
‘Weaklings first. Go straight. Someone is waiting for you in the maze. Take the right path if you want to die or the left one if you want to meet them.’
“What’s this? Is the dungeon mocking us? We’re not weaklings!” shouted Shenner as she punched the message. The wall cracked from the strength of her fist, but it was immediately repaired.
“Let’s do as he says. That someone must be Shanteya. She knows we’re coming after her.” I told her and jumped on the first platform.
It looks solid enough. Was this a trap of some sort before? I asked myself as I made my way to the end of the corridor.
Once we passed through the exit, another wall slid behind us. Now, it was clear. The dungeon deactivated its traps to lead us to the area of confrontation with Shanteya. He was forcing us to fight.
Does he actually think that Advanced Ranked assassin can do anything against us? She’s barely a low Master at best! I thought as I followed the path through a weird shaped room. There didn’t appear to be anything in there, making me wonder if this dungeon was sane in the first place.
“I think there are spikes down there.” said Shenner.
“What idiot falls on paths like this one?” I said with a huff.
“Maybe there are inactive traps?” she asked me.
When we reached the end, we found out that to reach the next floor, we had to jump down in a pit filled with water. Of course, we didn’t just jump in like that. There was a high chance the dungeon core placed some spikes at the bottom to break our feet or downright kill us.
We had two options of reaching the bottom safely. One meant to secure a rope to the edge and then slowly climb down. The other option was a bit more tricky and highly depended on our agility. Basically, we had to jump from wall to wall. Shenner didn’t wait for me to see if there was a way to attach a rope up here, and she jumped in, using the wall in front as a foothold to jump to the opposite one.
“Come on, slowpoke!” shouted Shenner from the bottom.
“Ugh…” I groaned and tried to remind myself to punish her later for shouting like that on a recon mission.
Then again, lately she seems to enjoy my punishments… I thought and jumped forward, using the same way as her to reach the bottom.
Once there, we were faced with a rather strange and peculiar maze. The walls were made out of metal and had small bumps on them like waves out at sea. They were partially reflective too, but for what reason the dungeon made such complicated walls, I couldn’t understand. One thing was certain though, given the complicated way they looked, the maze couldn’t be too big. It probably took the dungeon a few months just to make these walls.
“Tch!” I clicked my tongue and took out my dagger.
“Shall we go in, dear sister?” Shenner asked.
“Just be careful of traps.” I told her.
Thus, we entered this weird maze with only one goal in mind: find and kill Shanteya Dowesyl, the traitor who fled from our Master.
[Roderique’s point of view]
I believe I was among the first to see the signal from the two scouts sent by our lord Dankyun. The explosion from their spell followed soon after, and we pulled our horses in that direction. It went off trail, but Milord Dankyun didn’t care, he didn’t even sheath his sword after Princess Ayuseya vanished before our very eyes. He was mad and furious. We all saw him cast his Supreme Skill to destroy the academy ahead of us.
Honestly, I didn’t see the need to destroy the academy in such a way, but if this was the will of our superior, we, his soldiers, had to stay quiet and follow him wherever he led us. Least to be said that none of the students could have possibly survived such a terrifying attack. Even those Emperor Rank teachers most likely suffered some heavy damage, however, it was strange how the core of the dungeon wasn’t there anymore. It appeared to have changed positions if the scouts really did find it.
The worst that can happen now would be for us to go through a dungeon. Depending on how many floors it has, we may need to make a supply route with the surface. The scouts can probably handle that. Still, there’s a chance we might not need one, seeing as how furious Milord Dankyun is… I thought as I looked over at the draconian wearing a set of full plated armor and wielding a black sword with red runes engraved on it.
We reached the entrance of the dungeon almost one hour after we saw the signal up in the sky. After that, we didn’t see anything else, but the problem was the difficulty of the terrain. We even found a random trap placed here. Of course, Milord Dankyun crushed it with a single strike, but the horses couldn’t move any more. We had to leave them behind, but this way, we could move faster through the forest.
Most of our soldiers were between Master and Emperor Rank. I was in the high Emperor, close to Godlike, but the difference in strength and speed was considerable. That being said, we could all move just as fast or even faster than a horse normally did.
My brother once told me that many high ranked adventurers preferred the slow pace of a horse because it helped them conserve their Magic Energy, however, if they desired to, they could run faster than the horse.
Once we reached the entrance of the dungeon, we had four of my soldiers go first. Milord Dankyun was at the end, conserving his energy for the final battle, while we were meant to take care of the dungeon’s defenses and monsters.
The first trap we encountered was on the very first steps that led us deep inside the dungeon. They were all covered in slippery oil, causing the first one to step on it to roll down like a barrel down a hill until they reached the bottom. In order to avoid this from happening to the rest of us, we began to gather dirt and pour it over the steps. With the help of the storage crystal, this was done fast before Milord Dankyun took his anger out on us.
When we reached the bottom, we were encountered with the next type of trap, a chamber filled with poisoned air. Normally, we wouldn’t have bothered with something like this because of our Magic Armors, but the moment we stepped closer to the exit, the ceiling rained arrows at us. They all went straight through most Master Ranked Magic Armors, injuring two of us and even killing one. The arrows hit him right in the eyes, and none of us could do anything to save him.
We had no choice but to destroy the traps on the ceiling and the poison ones in the walls. Still, the men were getting worried. All of us had experience in dungeon exploring, but none of us heard or saw a dungeon capable of killing a Master Ranked adventurer in the very first room. Unfortunately, we couldn’t back away. Milord Dankyun would have killed us without showing even a drop of mercy.
Carefully, and with our shields up, we proceeded deeper into the dungeon. The corridor felt safe at first, but those of us who could detect the traps found the hidden spike traps. We destroyed them and reached the end of the corridor.
Two paths awaited us, both covered in oil set ablaze and burning anything that dared to go through. Still, as long as we had water magic, we could put it out, and so we did. As a result, we ended up using a wind spell as well in order to push the smoke and hot steam out of the dungeon.
I was standing in the back and directing the soldiers, but it was clear for both me and Dankyun that we weren’t facing a normal dungeon. This wasn’t built with the intent of pulling the adventurers in and sapping their Magic Energy. No, this was something made to kill and torture those who dared to step in. It was a warning, an impudent declaration that it could destroy us, however, we were a group of over 30 Master Ranked Soldiers, three Emperor Ranked Commanders and one Supreme Ranked Leader. There was no way this young dungeon core could survive our onslaught.
“The fires are put ou… GACK!” one of my men said, but before he finished his words, a spike went through his chest from the left side.
The man fell on the ground dead. The spike was two meters long, it had a metal tip and was about 10 cm thick.
Everyone moved away from the corridor as we realized that we just encountered another trap, one placed at the other end of the corridor. Fear started to spread through my men, but Milord’s glare kept them at bay.
“Get that weakling out of my sight and hurry up!” growled Milord Dankyun.
“Yes, Milord!” we replied obediently.
The body was moved out of the way, and two groups of four moved to the left and to the right. We waited patiently for them to return.
“GAAH!” a scream was heard.
“AARGH!” a groan was heard on the other side.
I closed my eyes and waited. Another scream was heard and finally, we heard a click. The wall in front of us opened up, and another spike came flying out straight at Milord. He caught it with his bare hands and crushed it.
After tossing it aside, I ordered two soldiers to move forward. The first one that did slipped on something and didn’t stop until he reached the other side. The floor was covered by slippery oil and inclined a bit towards the other end, it was a small ramp.
“AAA! It burns! AAA!” the man screamed in pain before everything went quiet.
The other soldier gulped and stepped forward, using his sword to steady his foothold. For each step he took, he stabbed the sword in the floor and then took another. This way, he reached the end and gave his report.
“Sir! There be lava here!” he shouted.
“You must be mistaken. Lava is past the 100th floor!” said Dankyun a bit angered.
It was understandable. To encounter such traps at the first floor was absurd. It only made us worry of what we were going to meet farther down our path. This dungeon was abnormal, unnatural, strange, and incredibly deadly.
“Find a way across!” I ordered.
“Sir Roderique, we can’t find any clues about where the two scouts might be.” said one of my soldiers.
I nodded and looked over at Milord Dankyun. He said nothing, and I did not press him about this matter. Seeing such a strange dungeon it wasn’t unlikely to believe that they might have died already or maybe fled before we arrived.
Even I was getting worried and felt the tingles of fear testing me. It was absurd after all to even believe that a Dungeon Lord that manages a pathetic human Magic Academy could build something as absurd as this dungeon.
I shook my head No! This has to be a trick of some sort! I thought and gripped the hilt of my sword.
“Do something about that oil and the ramp!” I ordered.
“Yes, sir!” came the reply from my soldiers.
Using more dirt, they covered it up and made it safe to walk upon. Without the oil, the ramp wasn’t that much of a big deal. We entered the corridor, but my soldiers didn’t move any farther than the edge of the ramp. The reason was simple: they had nowhere to move to.
Although there were some platforms ahead of us, they moved very fast, retreating and exiting the walls in the blink of an eye. There wasn’t even a visible door at the end, leading me to believe that it could only be some sort of puzzle here or a hidden lever.
“Milord, what do you think of this?” I asked him.
“Destroy the wall.” he ordered us.
I made a bow and then approached the edge of the ramp. Holding my hand up, I aimed for the wall on the other side and then chanted the short incantation for the [Fireball] spell. I added only a bit of my Magic Energy in it, but the effect should have been the desired one. Once the chant was over, the orb of fire formed in front of my palm. It flew towards the wall and exploded upon impact. It was a success! The wall was destroyed, blasted to pieces.
With a smirk, I ordered two of my men to use the platforms and reach the other side.
This turned out to be a rather easy obstacle to get past over. I thought in my mind as I watched he two skillfully jump from one platform to another, but just when they reached the last jump, something happened. The wall was covered in a shining light and the first soldier to jump was met with the fully repaired wall.
“NO! No no no!” he shouted trying to grab hold of something, but he plunged into the hot, molten lava below. “YEARGH!” he screamed as his Magic Armor was shattered by the heat, and his body quickly caught fire.
The other was met with a similar fate when the platform was pulled from under his feet.
“NOOO!” he screamed as well and fell.
I watched as two more of my soldiers were eaten by this dungeon.
“What’s going on with this dungeon?” I said through my clenched jaws and glared at the wall on the other side.
“What are you doing? Open the path already!” ordered Milord.
It was clearly not my fault that this accursed dungeon had so many traps, but the failure of my soldiers still fell upon my shoulders. In Milord’s eyes, I was the one to blame for this. Their death was only a testament as my failure as their commander.
I won’t let a dungeon make a fool out of me! I thought.
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