Operation Dungeon Conquest Begins! — Part 3
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
The skeleton of a bipedal but serpentine creature screeched at me in a lizard-like fashion. Though the undead monster had no flesh, let alone vocal chords, it was somehow still capable of projecting the annoying, high pitched noise in my direction.
“Shut the fuck up and get your ass back in your goddamn grave, you stupid corpse!”
Despite its best efforts, the undead lizard failed to intimidate me. In fact, the smug look that decorated its face as it tried only drove me to hit it harder. And as such, it found its skull turned to dust after a single mana-infused strike from EoD. The rest of its body soon followed in its dysfunctional head’s footsteps and crumbled into a useless pile of bones.
“You see that, mate?” said Reyus. “The guy in the mask just dove headfirst at a skeleton salamander and one shot it. Aren’t those destroyer class monsters? That ain’t something you just do…”
“What terrifying strength…” said Lurolle.
Nell laughed awkwardly, then responded to their comments with an explanation.
“He’s being much more reckless than usual today. He’s normally a lot more careful and meticulous, but I guess that’s probably because he doesn’t really find destroyer class monsters threatening,” she said. “Though I think he might just be venting on them as a way of helping himself forget about everything that happened earlier…”
“He’s using a destroyer class monster as a stress toy!?” said Reyus. “Man, bro, I’m starting to feel kinda bad for it. It was probably proud and shit, since it’s one of the enemy’s elites. Hell, I’m pretty sure that thing was a floor master…”
“Wait, seriously?” I cocked a brow as I slung EoD over my shoulder and turned my head towards him. “That thing was supposed to be a floor master…? Isn’t it, you know, kinda weak?”
Floor masters, or mini-bosses as they were sometimes referred, were supposed to be by far the most powerful members of a demon lord’s army. My dungeon had exactly one of them, and his name was Rir. Unlike the trusty wolf, the skeleton whose skull I’d smashed was about as strong as the mobs that spawned in the Wicked Forest’s southernmost region. If that thing was supposed to be this dungeon’s Rir, then I’m probably going to start feeling let down as fuck.
“I know what you’re thinking. A skeleton salamander’s a bit weak for a floor master, but that’s just the way this dungeon is. Y’see, brother, guys like him are placed just ‘bout everywhere important to slow us down and make us work for progress, not that it matters for you, seeing as how you can one shot them.”
I see… so I guess this demon lord is going for one of them quantity over quality strats. Huh… My gut instinct was to feel as if it was a bad idea, but I reconsidered upon realizing that the dungeon I was in was much more convoluted than my own. It seemed, at least, like there were many different ways to get to the demon lord, and that quantity was necessary in order to cover all of them at the same time.
The stealth-enabled evil eye I’d sent on ahead examined our surroundings and kept my map up to date with whatever information was available.
“Tsk…” I clicked my tongue as I quickly looked over the results of its trek. “Looks like there’s nothing but a bunch of dead ends. Doubt there’s any point in going this way unless there’s a trap door or some other kind of hidden room or corridor somewhere.”
“I ain’t got a clue how you know, mate, seeing as how we haven’t even made it all the way through, but if you say so, I’m sure you’re probably right,” said Reyus.
I replied to him with a shrug. There wasn’t any need to explain how my abilities worked.
The reason we had begun exploring was because the dungeon’s interior had changed drastically since the adventurers’ last visit; the demon lord had likely revamped it as a countermeasure because he’d felt like his life was in danger. We’d made the decision to split into two groups. The first group consisted of Carlotta, the paladins, and Griffa, the guy in charge on the adventurers’ side. The other group had Nell and I, as well as the other two adventurers. We had fewer people, but our group actually had much more firepower, given that it came equipped with both a hero and a demon lord.
“In that case, I think the other guys are probably on the right track, but you might also be right about it being hidden somewhere,” said Reyus, with a groan. “I hope it ain’t. I hate looking for secret passages…”
“Yeah, I know, right?” I said.
Looking for a trap door or other mechanism in a dungeon this big would be nothing short of a pain in the ass. I began contemplating the different mechanisms to look for, but was torn from my thoughts by Reyus, whose aloof, laid-back persona momentarily vanished in favour of one that was much more serious.
“You sure this is a dead end, mate?”
“Totally. At the very least, I can’t see any paths that actually lead anywhere.”
“That’s suspicious. There’d be no reason to put a floor master here if it’s full of nothing but dead ends. There has to be something nearby…” he said. “And it’s probably something that the demon lord would’ve liked to keep a secret, but couldn’t ‘cause it was too important.”
“Huh… Now that’s an interesting thought.”
“Conquering a dungeon comes down to a battle of wits between the defenders and the attackers. Whoever has the better heads on their shoulders comes up on top.” The adventurer continued with a grin. “But y’see, mate, we adventurers have got something that no demon lord does. Experience. Years, and years of experience, passed down through the ages.”
So basically what that means is adventurers know how to conquer dungeons, and demon lords don’t really know how to deal with them. That’s definitely something I should probably dig a bit deeper into when I’ve got the chance.
“Sit back and watch, bro, I’ll take care of this,” said Reyus. “It’s time for you to see that we adventurers aren’t just for show.”
Reyus gave me a thumbs up and began investigating in earnest as I stood impressed by the confident display.
“Soooo… it doesn’t look like there’s anything here,” said Reyus, after about half an hour’s worth of searching.
“What the hell!? What happened to all that shit you were talking about adventurers and whatnot!?” I couldn’t help but shout as I felt a wave of exasperation wash over me.
“Reyus… I know you were trying to make us look good, but you’ve done nothing but the opposite…” said the other adventurer.
“O-Oh shaddap! It ain’t my fault, mate. Not everything goes to plan every time. You of all people should know that!”
“Don’t worry, that’s something we know pretty well too,” said Nell, with a troubled smile.
“You see that? Your excuses are so pathetic that even she felt the need to back you up,” said Lurolle.
The rogue seemed to realize that there was no winning the argument no matter how hard he argued, so he shrugged it off by clearing his throat and changing the topic.
“Either way, we’ve at least confirmed that this passage leads to nothing but dead ends. How abouts we head back to the crossroads and regroup with the boss and the knight lady?” The way he looked around the room as he spoke made it apparent he was addressing everyone present.
“Sure,” I said. “I’m new to this whole clearing dungeons thing, so I’ll go with whatever you think is best.”
“Mhm. I’m not too familiar with dungeons either, so I go with whatever decision you two come to,” said Nell.
Reyus and Lurolle took a moment to look at each other, after which the mage began to speak.
“I think we should keep looking for clues, even if just a bit longer. We haven’t had any difficult combat encounters yet, so I think we’ve got the energy to spare.”
“That’s just because we haven’t even really done anything, mate. Those two handled all the fighting for us,” said Reyus. “But you have a point. We might as well keep at it for a bit longer since we’ve still got all the stamina in the world.” He turned to Nell and I. “You two bros fine with that? You’ll probably still be handling the brunt of the combat.”
“Sure, why not?” I said. “I’m fine with sitting around and throwing wrenches in the demon lords pla—” I cut myself off midscentence, hoisted EoD off my shoulders, and took up a stance. “Nell, get ready. There’s a wave inbound.”
She seemed to have detected the incoming enemies as well, as she drew and raised her weapon without so much as questioning me.
“Are there enemies coming?” asked Reyus.
“I suppose so…” said Lurolle. “Oh you silly little monsters.. why do you have to be such a thorn in my side?”
Both adventurers followed our example and readied themselves for combat, and just in time too. Because when I’d said a wave, I meant it. A massive horde of monsters, a literal tsunami of bodies, was about to come crashing down on location full force.