Chapter 21

We didn’t sit around waiting for the enemy forces to approach and instead fell back to the second floor. We had cleared out the enemies in the immediate vicinity so falling back was simple as there was no one to impede us. It was slightly embarrassing for us to have retreated despite rushing on ahead of the other advance groups and now we would need to seek their help, but it was better not to push our luck.

“Bah, those weak monsters are beneath us. We should have stayed and fought.”

“Come on Nes, there is no need for us to rush things. The whole point of organizing a large expedition was for adventurers to work together and take out the monsters.”

“Tris is right, we don’t need to be greedy here. Also, if all the magic crystals disappear from the monsters it would look a little too suspicious on us, don’t you think?”

My main concern was the disappearing magic crystals. We might be blamed for that, but if we didn’t open up the monster’s bodies then at least we couldn’t be blamed for stealing the crystals.

The second floor was mostly safe by this point. We had rushed through the floor to get to the third floor. Other adventuring parties worked their way through the first and second floors by clearing out monsters. It wasn’t that we were ordered to do this, even though we were part of the vanguard forces, it was just that we wanted to clear as many monsters as we could so I could grow stronger. We also had to be careful of clearing out too many monsters so that there was a decent amount of magic crystals left to go around.

What happened on the third floor was a bit of a surprise, but we had no way of knowing the floor would be much more compact than the first and second.

“Tch, whatever.”

“Brother, why don’t you just keep your mouth shut like you usually do?”

Allein was definitely the more reasonable sibling of the two. I couldn’t really complain too much though. Nes hated humans with a passion and it was understandable given the state of the world. Although, the intensity of his hate was much stronger than what I had experienced so far, but there was much I still didn’t know about the two siblings. Their past must have been harsh.

Nes kept his silence and just looked at his sister with a pained expression.

“Good, stay like that.”

Now that we were back on the second floor, we moved a bit away from the passageway leading down. I wasn’t sure whether or not the monsters could move between floors, but thinking back to the fact that they had sent out an invasion force, they most likely could. I would have liked to move even further away, but we were tired and needed a short rest. Even if the monsters came up the passageway, the Demihumans in our party would easily be able to detect them quickly and then we could retreat further if necessary.

“Tris, after a short break I need you to find the other advance parties on the floor and bring them back here. Tell them there is a large force of monsters close to the passageway of the third floor and we need to work together.”

I felt somewhat bad working her so hard after the battles we just went through, but there would be enough time to rest after we gathered everyone.

“It’s fine, I can go now.” Tris said and then ran off before I could say anything.

“Take this time to rest.” I motioned to the others and we all sat down on the grass.

The second floor of the dungeon was similar to the terrain outside of the dungeon. Mostly open grassland with some hills and trees scattered about. It even had a day and night cycle similar to the outside world. It never ceased to amaze me how the dungeon was capable of creating all of this. This was some immensely powerful magic at work.

“Reia, what do you think is responsible for creating these dungeons? It’s really amazing how all of this comes from a dungeon.”

“No one really knows. There is some speculation and some scholars have come up with theories, but no one knows for certain.”

While Reia and I discussed the mysteries of the dungeons, Allein watched our conversation with interest.

“What do you think Allein?” I posed the question to her on a whim.

“I don’t know anything about the dungeons unfortunately.”

We talked for a while longer until Tris finally returned with one of the advance parties.

“Looks like you found some, good job Tris.” I gave her a thumbs up and walked over to the approaching adventurers.

This was a fairly large group of adventurers with seven party members. I wasn’t too familiar with them but I knew they were called ‘Iron Will’. A couple of them wore heavy armor but the majority were wearing leather. They had a good mix of defenders and attackers in their group. They even had a magic caster which meant they were most likely a strong party.

“Thanks for coming!” Our group quickly greeted them and introduced ourselves.

Their leader was named Yorrick and he was one of the tanks of the party. He wore full Iron plate and even carried what they called a ‘Mirror Shield’. Even though it had a fancy name, it was really just a shiny iron shield. The reason they called them that was because of how they could reflect direct magic attacks.

“Ah, the ‘Void Walkers’. I’ve heard a lot about you guys. You must be Fayde, the hero of the battle of Enrain!” Yorrick greeted me enthusiastically and I was slightly embarrassed at the title he gave me.

“I don’t really deserve that title, all I did was warn the town.”

“Hah! No need to be modest, you also came up with the strategy that won the battle.”

“Sorry to interrupt, but this was the only group I was able to find, the others might be further away or back at the caravan on the first floor.”

“Uh, yeah. Thanks Tris. Why don’t you guys come sit down so we can discuss the situation on the third floor.”

It was good that Tris had been able to come into contact with ‘Iron Will’ since they looked like a strong group. The tanks would especially be helpful since their heavy armor would be difficult for the lizardmen’s spears to pierce. Their weapons were too weak to break through the Iron plate.

Yorrick and his party came over to where our group had been resting and most of us sat down. The two in heavy armor remained standing so I decided to stand up as well. I felt bad for them since they probably couldn’t sit down well in all that armor, must be quite uncomfortable!

“So you guys already made it down to the third floor huh? Not bad. We were making our way there ourselves. We actually passed by the other advance party on our way here. They took some injuries and were heading back up to the first floor to rest. The other adventuring parties will most likely be heading down soon to help clean up.” Yorrick said as soon as I stood.

I nodded thoughtfully and said, “Then it’s just us, but I think that should be fine. There is a relatively large group of monsters down on the third floor. We killed a few groups but we were forced to retreat when a larger group showed up. I think it should be easy enough with the twelve of us.”

“Do you know how large of a group?” asked Yorrick.

“I can only guess, I doubt more than forty or fifty. We only encountered lizardmen spear users and archers on the third floor so far, but this group might have a shaman or two. Tris only got a quick look. She didn’t see any heavy infantry. She would have noticed if there were any.”

Yorrick grunted, “Alright, then let’s come up with a plan. Grant and I are both in heavy armor. We should be able to hold off a good portion of them if we are at the front of the formation. The rest of my group are lightly armored, but agile. We have a magic caster too, he is adept with elemental attacks and knows some defensive spells.”

“Our group has a lot of firepower. Allein and Reia can hit them with a ‘Fireball’ attack to whittle their numbers down before they even reach us.”

When the other adventurers heard me mention that we had two magic casters who could cast ‘Fireball’ a few of them let out surprised sounds.

“You have two magic casters that can use ‘Fireball’? That’s impressive! Is that the power of a Demihuman? We’re lucky enough to have Hersall who can use Intermediate ranked magic. Not to mention, I saw your black flames at the battle of Enrain. No wonder you guys are so strong.” Yorrick and his group were unabashedly praising us.

It was embarrassing being praised by fellow adventurers and they all looked relatively younger than me by a couple of years too.

After they calmed down, I continued where I left off, “After our initial attack, Allein and Reia can then fire barrages of elemental attacks into the enemy along with your magic caster. We have a decent number of ranged attackers so if our short range fighters can hold the enemy back, we should be able to cut their numbers down substantially pretty quickly. The terrain on the third floor somewhat limits mobility. It’s mostly ruins with some pathways that function like roads. They can only move about ten abreast at most. With Yorrick and Grant holding the center, the rest of us will hold the flanks.”

Everyone listened to the rest of my explanation attentively without interruption. We were all experienced adventurers so it wasn’t as if anyone would make any rookie mistakes. After our plan was agreed on, we rested for a short while and then headed back down to the third floor.

Tris went ahead of us to scout and let us know where the monsters were located. She returned after a half hour and gave her report.

“The monsters are close to where we fought earlier. I’m not really sure of what they’re doing. It looks like they’re picking through the monsters we killed. They’ve set up a crude perimeter but aren’t doing much else. I couldn’t get in close enough to get exact numbers so I took a look around the area to find a good spot to fight them.”

“That’s good enough, it won’t change our plan regardless. Alright, we should all get in position then.”

The two tanks were position at the center of the formation and the rest of the close range adventurers were positioned on each side of them but lagged slightly back. The idea was to let the monsters initial charge come up against the two tanks. Any that tried to get around them would be taken out by the other adventurers.

I could have also acted as a Tank if I used my ‘Void Flames’ to cover my body, but I didn’t want to display my full powers for all to see. If it was absolutely necessary, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it, but I thought we would be fine as is.

Our two groups moved in formation quietly as we walked towards where the monsters were encamped. We had to move slowly because of Yorrick and Grant. It was difficult for them to move quietly in full Iron plate armor. There was no need to hurry so it wasn’t an issue. It was more important to not alert the enemy, at least initially. Allein and Reia would need a bit of time to prepare their ‘Fireball’ spells.

Tris had picked out a good location to make our stand and It took us almost thirty minutes to reach the position. It was a narrow passageway that led to the encampment and there were mostly solid walls from ruined buildings on each side. It would be difficult for the lizardmen to go around us unless they split apart their forces and sent them down a different passageway. That would be foolish, though, as it would take too much time to go around.

“Now that we’re in position, Allein and Reia, get your spells ready. We want to get the monsters to come to us so once their spells are ready, we need to draw their attention. Tris, that will be your job, can you handle it?”

“That’s fine by me.” She gave me a quick reply.

“Alright, why don’t you head out now. Wait about five minutes and then lead them here.”

Tris ran down the passageway and eventually disappeared into some ruins.

The rest of us waited patiently for the battle to begin. I could feel some excitement as I readied my sword and enhanced the blade with my ‘Void Flames’. I had already used this technique at the battle of Enrain so it wasn’t anything new. It also resembled other enhancement type spells so it wasn’t all that strange. The black flames themselves were strange, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. Thankfully, people seemed to chalk it up to a strange and unique elemental type magic.

Five minutes came quickly and soon Tris could be seen running down the passageway heading towards our formation.

“Get ready, they’re coming!”

Tris ran next to me and unsheathed her shortsword. Her bow would be useless in this battle without my magic added to her arrows. That was another ability I didn’t want to show so I had already told her to use her sword.

A couple of lizardmen had chased after Tris but stopped when they saw us. One of them had a horn and blew it, signalling to the rest of their army. Another horn blew in response nearby. Before long, we could hear the sounds of a large group of lizardmen marching and growling as they came closer. They soon became visible as they turned a corner about thirty meters further down the passageway.

Yorrick yelled out, “Hersall, don’t forget to throw up a defensive barrier after our initial bombardment. They have archers so we will be relying on you to protect us from their arrows.”

The enemy numbers continued to grow as more became visible and their numbers exceeded my estimates. There were probably somewhere between sixty and seventy lizardmen approaching us in formation. There were spearmen in front and archers behind them. There appeared to be one lizardmen shaman in their ranks as well.

“Now Allein, Reia!”

Two large ‘Fireballs’ flew swiftly towards the enemy formation and exploded wiping out the entire first few ranks of the enemy formation and sending them into momentary disarray. Our speedy attack had wiped out most of the light infantry in the blink of an eye. They didn’t even have time to fire arrows before the two ‘Fireballs’ hit.

With their formation in confusion, we began to move forward at a steady pace. Allein, Reia, and I began our barrage of magic attacks as our formation moved closer to the enemy. The lizardmen were only confused for a short period of time and soon reorganized themselves. Most of the lizardmen light infantry had been wiped out, but there were still a dozen of them that survived.

The lizardmen archers began firing their arrows towards us as Hersall immediately put up a barrier. Dozens of arrows hit the barrier and fell harmlessly to the ground around us. I knew that the barrier was quickly draining Hersall of his MP and wouldn’t last long. It would be enough to get us closer to the enemy. It wasn’t long before the forward ranks of the lizardmen charged into us.

Lizardmen were larger than humans but Yorrick and Grant did a splendid job of impeding their charge. Lizardmen attempted to batter them down with their initial charge but were stopped as if they had hit a brick wall. A few elemental attacks were shot towards them from the lizardmen shaman but they were easily deflected by the ‘Mirror Shields’. Arrows continued to rain down on the Hersall’s barrier and it was beginning to weaken.

“Quickly, push them back, we need to cut through their spearmen and reach the archers as quickly as possible. Aim all magic attacks at their archers, take out the shaman if you can too.” I yelled out orders towards Allein and Reia.

I was busy trying to keep the lizardmen back and only had a few opportunities to shoot my ‘Void Flames’ towards the enemy archers. I hadn’t had a clear shot at the shaman yet. It was a good thing our initial ‘Fireball’ attack had killed so many of their spearmen otherwise we might have been overwhelmed.

We had finally finished off the lizardmen light infantry when Hersall’s barrier collapsed and he caught an arrow in the shoulder. Two more of Yorrick’s group took arrows and fell to the ground. They weren’t dead, but they were seriously injured.

“Yorrick, Grant, stay back and protect your injured from the arrows. The rest of you, follow me!”

Now that we had a clear path straight towards the archers who were no longer protected by light infantry, we charged straight into their ranks. I repeatedly shot ‘Void Flames’ as I ran and closed the distance, slicing the head off of an archer who attempted to run.

Reia released several ‘Flame Arrows’ that struck the lizardmen shaman, killing it. Nes jumped into the group of archers and twirled his spear around, killing three of them in quick succession. Tris and the two uninjured members of ‘Iron Will’ that charged with us finished off the rest. The lizardmen archers were no match for us in close quarters combat and fell without much trouble.

“Reia and Allein, quickly heal the injured! Fuck I’m tired.”

I wanted to collapse on the floor right there, but it wasn’t the time to do that. I had to make sure the injured were seen to. Thankfully, none of us had lost our lives but a few of us were seriously injured. My HP had also dropped by half and I had taken an arrow in my arm, but other than that I was fine. If I had used my ‘Void Flames’ to enhance my body, I probably wouldn’t have suffered any injuries.

We all regrouped and had those who were injured healed.

“Man, that was rough!” Yorrick walked over to me and removed his helmet and wiped sweat off his brow.

“Yeah, I’m just glad no one died.”

“It was close, if not for your companions healing magic, they would have died.” Yorrick looked over to his companions who were now resting as he spoke.

“Don’t worry about it, it wasn’t as if we could take these monsters on ourselves.”

Yorrick chuckled and turned back to me, “Even still, thanks. We won’t be able to fight anymore for a while. What are you guys planning to do?”

That was simple, we took injuries but it wasn’t anything serious. With a little rest we could continue on.

“Once we are sure it is safe, we’re heading down to the next floor.”

“Haha! You guys are crazy, you should at least come back for a bit and rest. The dungeon isn’t going anywhere. It might be best to wait for more adventurers to arrive.”

“You’re probably right, but we will be fine after a short rest and it’s not like we’re going to take excessive risks. If we need to, we will fall back.”

There was a reason why I was rushing to get to the final floor of the dungeon before anyone else. I had discovered that each dungeon had what was called a ‘Dungeon Core’ and these cores were large magic crystals. That was my objective in coming here.

“Well, I won’t say anything more then. Good luck!”

After resting for a short time and some light conversation, Yorrick and his team left towards the second floor. 

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