Operation Dungeon Conquest Begins! — Part 4
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
The encounter mainly featured skeletons. There were a few wraiths, zombies, and other undead creatures thrown into the mix, but the vast majority of the enemies that the demon lord had pitted us against were nothing but bags of bones equipped with swords and shields. A few stronger individuals had been thrown into the crowd as well, namely several skeleton salamanders, alongside a number of massive zombie-looking things. Looks like the demon lord is getting a bit serious when it comes to trying to get rid of us now, huh? Like, goddamn dude, all these monsters must’ve cost a lot of DP. Too bad all of it’s going right down the drain.
“How many of them are there!?” asked Nell, as she cut down the skeleton approaching her. She knew that I’d popped my map open, and that I was looking at it, as she was like all the dungeon’s other residents in that she could see it.
“About three hundred,” I said. “Most of them are weak ass skeletons, but there are still a few stronger ones, like the thing I smashed earlier, hanging around as well. Don’t get caught off guard!”
“W-what, three hundred!?” shouted Reyus. “Where the hell did they all come from!?”
“Has this ever happened any of the other times you raided this place?” I shouted back, albeit in a much more laid back manner than him, while cleaving through a group of mobs with my mace.
“Never! Shit, this is insane!” Despite cursing, the guide was demonstrating that he was fully capable of his role. He raised the bow he had slung over his back and shot every nearby skeleton square in the neck, thereby detaching their heads. “You’re like an event magnet, mate! Nothing ever gets stale with you around!”
Any of the monsters that actually managed to close in on him were met with a skillful display of CQC. He would draw an arrow from his quiver and use it like a dagger by skillfully jabbing its tip right into his enemies’ vitals while dancing around their attacks. His headshot-based fighting style was pretty effective for the most part, but as we were up against a horde of the undead, decapitation was not always strictly enough to result in a kill. Still, it was capable of depriving his targets of their senses and thereby effectively invalidating them, even without taking them back to the grave. Given that he didn’t have the time nor leisure to go about finishing everything off at the moment, it seemed to be a pretty effective strategy.
“Incinerate the wicked! Fire Javelin!”
In our backline was Lurolle, who seemed to be using fire-based spells in order to support us. And by us, I meant all of us. She was able to provide excellent supporting fire to Nell and I despite never having worked with us before, while also handling everything on Reyus’ end as well. She did this by ignoring all enemies other than those in her vicinity and our blind spots; she was going for efficiency rather than trying to hog all the kills.
At first glance, I’d thought that her spells were a bit weak, but soon realized that they too were a part of her strategy. She chose to use the weakest possible spell that would be sure to eliminate each enemy in a single blow as to conserve as much of her mana as possible. This both preserved her longevity as a member of the backline and also served to minimize if not straight up prevent friendly fire.
With the two adventurers taking up the mid and backlines, it naturally came to Nell and I to fill the void left by their missing party member and step up in order to be the team’s front line. Their party is actually pretty well structured, isn’t it?
“Wow, you guys are pretty good,” I said.
“Thanks man, appreciate the compliment!” shouted Reyus. “But y’see mate, I’d appreciate it even more if you focused on the fight!”
Oh yeah, right. That’s a thing, huh? I guess I should probably put my fair share of the work in, shouldn’t I?
I channeled my mana as I took another swing, then released it in the form of a spell almost immediately after the impact.
“Go.” With a single word as my sole command, I pulled the usual rabbit, or rather, dragon, out of the hat.
My proficiency as a hydrosophist had risen significantly since my last major encounter. I was now able to conjure ten of the false serpentine creatures simultaneously. And that was exactly what I did. Once let loose, all ten drakes giddily soared through the air as they swallowed the surrounding monsters en masse, flooding the surrounding corridors before coiling up to create prisons made of liquid. The raging high speed currents within them shredded both weaker and slightly less weak monsters to bits without distinction or mercy.
Once the spell expired, it left behind piles upon piles of shredded material, each filled in part with bone and in part with rancid, rotting flesh. The ground up remains were almost entirely white in colour because bone made up about seventy percent of the raw material, but whatever the case, the piles were so disgusting to behold that I wanted to vomit. Fuck me, I should’ve used a different spell…
“What just…happened?” Reyus’ jaw practically dropped to the floor. “I… I guess we weren’t necessary after all…”
“I’m starting to think that he’s more than powerful enough to handle the whole dungeon by himself,” said Lurolle, equally appalled. “And how in the world did he get so much power into that spell? I swear he didn’t even chant…”
Both adventurers used the opening created by the sudden lack of enemies to engage in a brief discussion. I still felt a bit too disgusted to really want to participate in any small talk, so the only reply I offered when they stopped looking at each other to look at me was an unamused shrug. The weak monsters the demon lord was throwing our way didn’t even come close to comparing to the overtuned creatures I fought in the Wicked Forest. Frankly, dealing with them felt more like a waste of time than anything. Come on dude, bring it on already. You’re gonna need something on Rir’s level to slow me down. Actually, on second thought, I take that back. I’d rather not have to deal with it. I’d rather have everything stay nice and easy.
“Don’t worry, there are still loads more where they came from. You two have got all the time in the world to earn your keep,” I said. “Speaking of… Hey Nell, you mind doing me a favour and taking care of the wraiths?”
The phantom-like apparitions, whose rage-contorted faces were poking out of the walls, began lobbing spells at me. As creatures that were immune to most damage types, they’d survived my draconic assault. It was impossible to deal with them except in the case that one happened to have access to a specific subset of spells, many of which were based in the holy element.
“Leave it to me!” she shouted, energetically. “The light of The Lord shall consign all darkness to oblivion! Blessed Enchantment!”
Her holy sword began to glow as she finished constructing her spell. The sacrilegious creatures she’d cast it to slay immediately recognized her as a threat and switched focus; every single one began slinging their spells in her direction instead.
“Watch out!” shouted Reyus.
“Nell!” echoed Lurolle.
Both attempted to hurry to her aid. But it was meaningless. Nell wasn’t a damsel in distress. She was a hero, one that was capable of remaining calm and evading every one of the attacks sent in her direction. She naturally began throwing out counter attacks as she ducked and weaved, slicing the spectres in half with her blade, in spite of their immunity to physical damage. They were unable to offer any true resistance as she mowed right through the crowd. The way the wraiths’ faces contorted in shock as they realized that they were susceptible to her blade made for quite the funny scene.
“Well then… it looks like she’s just as ridiculous as he is…” said Reyus.
“Our worries were needless…” added Lurolle.
Oh, good. It looks like they’re finally starting to understand how awesome my wifey is. Now, if only she’d stop trembling every time she noticed a new wraith pop out of nowhere. Jump scares really do seem to be the bane of her existence, huh?
“You said it, mate. I don—woah!” Reyus narrowly managed to evade an attack by an enemy that suddenly popped out of a nearby corridor. According to its stat page, the massive undead creature was called an Elder Skeleton, and it just so happened to be armed with a sword scaled to the size of its body.
The arrow he fired after tumbling out of the way had no effect on his foe. It literally bounced right off its oversized neckbone. This guy must be getting a lot more calcium than all the other buddies.
Reyus clicked his tongue. He was in an unfavorable position. His hurried dodge had left him with his back on the ground.
“Keep dodging!” I shouted, to which he reacted by rolling to the side. A vertical swing came a moment after, gouging out the part of the floor where he’d just been.
I jumped right into the fray. The elder skeleton switched to attacking me, but I parried his attack—which frankly felt like it was backed by almost no force whatsoever—activated EoD’s enchantments, and spun around to deliver to the giant skeleton a heavy parting gift backed by an excess of centrifugal force. With its head gone, the rest of its body soon crumbled, completely and utterly defeated.
“Thanks, mate! You saved my ass…” said Reyus as he heaved a sigh of relief.
“No problem,” I casually replied.
Frankly put, I didn’t actually think my interference was necessary. It looked like Reyus would’ve been fine even if I didn’t step in, as he’d begun drawing what appeared to be an enchanted arrow from his quiver, a distinct-looking tool he’d likely equipped himself with for the specific purpose of dealing with tougher foes.
“Alright, looks like that was the last straggler,” I said as I brandished EoD to get the final zombie’s flesh off of it, then slung the weapon back over my shoulder. It had taken us a fair bit of time to actually eliminate our remaining foes, as reinforcements continued to pour in even after my water dragons consumed most of the initial wave.
“…I was pretty worried for a moment there, but man, mate, how do I put this? You ever considered making yourself into an adventurer? Our party would welcome both you and your girl with open arms.”
“Sorry, but nah,” I said. “I mean, it sounds like it’d be plenty of fun, but I can’t be away from home for too long.”
“Thanks for the invitation, but I can’t because of my job. And his, uhm… I mean, our home is in the middle of nowhere.”
Our home, huh? Hearing her say that makes me very happy.
“Aw… that’s too bad, mate.” Much to my surprise, Reyus seemed rather disappointed by our refusal in spite of the fact that his tone had conveyed that he had only brought it up as a joke. “Wait, you two are living together? All by yourselves?”
“Oh my… Now that is something I would love to hear more about,” said Lurolle.
Her eyes had suddenly begun sparking with interest. Goddamn it, women and their obsession in romance, I swear…
“Uhm… we are living together, but not by ourselves,” said Nell.
“Well there go my expectations,” said Lurolle.
“Wait, you have kids already? Y’seem a bit too young for that, mate,” said Reyus, in a half joking, half confused manner.
“There actually are a couple kids running around,” I said. “One is uh… kind of my daughter. I’ve also got two little sisters, a live-in maid, two other wives, and a couple of pets. Nell’s the only one that doesn’t live with us all the time ‘cause of her job.”
Some of you are probably thinking that I totally didn’t mention the wraith girls. And it’s not because I’ve forgotten about them. I’m just not really sure what they are to me. Calling them little sisters just kind of feels… wrong. And they’re not my daughters or pets either. The closest thing I can really come up with is partners in crime, I guess? Iunno.
“W-wait, bro! You have three wives!?” said Reyus, with his mouth gaping.
“Yup,” I replied with a shrug.
“I thought he was an upstanding, sincere guy, but it turned out he was just a playboy…” said Lurolle, while trembling in fear.
Wow, r00d. Look, this isn’t even my fault. I’m still not actually sure how it happened.
After spending a few moments recovering from the shock, Reyus turned to Nell. “A-are you really okay with him having a whole two other wives?”
“Of course. They both met him before I did, and they’re still really nice to me in spite of it,” said Nell, with a genuine smile. “Besides, I like spending time with both of them.”
Again, Reyus’ jaw dropped. It did eventually recover after a good few minutes, after which he promptly snapped towards me with the most serious look he was capable of mustering.
“Teach me your ways.”
“The harem route’s a tough one. You sure you’re ready for it?”
“Doesn’t matter, mate. I’ll give it everything I’ve got. I just… I just want girls to like me, man… I’ll do anything it takes.” He balled his hands into fists as he prostrated himself before me.
“Very well.” I nodded approvingly after confirming that he was every bit as serious as he sounded.
“Nell… I know this is mostly the fault of Reyus’ stupidity, and that this might be a bit rude to say, but uhm… is it just me, or is he a bit… silly?”
“That’s just how he is…”
“Boys will be boys, I suppose…” sighed Lurolle.
Nell didn’t refute the claim, and instead simply laughed along awkwardly while refusing to outright state an opinion.