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Nia half expected that they would just give up on the dungeon.
As far as Nia could judge them, based on some parts of their behavior and legends of earlier summoned heroes, the two probably weren’t used to dangers. Not that all people of the Realms were used to them either, there were artisans and other classes not directly involved in fighting, but for everyone here dangers also meant opportunities. Especially those in system-managed dungeons, where an unusual group of high leveled enemies didn’t mean that something even stronger hunted or pushed them out of their usual territory.
With the unexpected help from their mostly silent team member, the situation was however brought under control.
“Okay then. Unless one of you has a job to process the cadaver and wishes to level it, i would just leave the bodies behind. The beasts here don’t have anything really valuable, so we would just waste our time and space in our bags.”
As they continued on to slowly explore the dungeon floor, it didn’t take long before another group of enemies appeared. While the three [Grotto Spider Lv 14] couldn’t normally be found this close to the exit in the dungeon, they proved to be far easier targets, thanks to their size of over one meter. While Sera slowly dismembered two of them Nia had no issues ambushing and eliminating the last one.
She also thought about helping the sword fighter afterwards, but as the girl looked quite happy with her opponents and didn’t need the help aside from speeding up the process, Nia stayed out of the fight, watched from the sidelines and used the time to think about her unexpected team members.
Sera probably trained with the sword as a hobby. She seemed like someone who had experience in fights against other people, but non out in the wild. Otherwise she wouldn’t just abandon the mage of the team when walking through a hostile forest. Leaving the squishy mage and a stealth based ranger alone as the person with the most health, that seemed like a bad idea. Hopefully, once the sword girl had some more experience, she would become more careful, but if it didn’t happen before they reached more dangerous realms… Nia filed it away for the moment, however she would keep an eye out and, if necessary, instruct the rather reckless acting girl.
Much more of an enigma was Sarah. Not only due to the fact that she nearly never talked, but that she could use magic better than most mages around this area and somehow even had spells unrelated to her affinity, according to Sera. Maybe a level 100 mage could be her match, maybe level 50. Nia wasn’t sure, as people who focused purely on the physical or mental aspect of their status were rare and she hadn’t done much research on what could be possible if one devoted all their time to training a single class.
It was even more surprising that Sarah was from a world which shouldn’t have much magic in the first place, as all summonings happened from worlds mostly devoid of mana.
Another issue however was that neither of the two seemed to think much about other people. Sera didn’t seem disturbed about killing them. Sarah didn’t bat an eye as she used them as resources for her item creation. Nia could have understood the former, if they were used to slaughter and self-defense, however for that Sera was behaving too carefree in this environment. More mysteries…
At least it wasn’t as bad as using souls as resources. Admittedly Nia didn’t mind her using the souls of people who abused others, however the casualness with which she created the items suggested that she had done it many times before and most likely not only with criminals.
The assassin didn’t want to judge the values of other worlds, but she should maybe think about how to talk them out of it, if they started to kill innocent people despite her earlier warnings. A nagging thought also told her that stopping them directly wouldn’t work with the contract in place. That it was most likely the trap she had expected and overlooked.
Shaking her head Nia pushed those thoughts aside. She was probably overthinking the situation after she had made a few bad experiences in the past. And even if she wasn’t, she still could neither judge them for what they could have done in another world with other values nor what she thought they could be doing in the future.
Sera had finally finished off her last spider. It took a bit too long in Nia’s opinion, but that should change once the girl had more levels and experience fighting the new kinds of enemies. Not that there was really any other option. Thanks to the attribute values one got stronger over time, as long as one tried to improve.
“Urg… Why does everything have to look so similar? There isn’t even much variation with the beasts…” The sword fighter complained, slowly getting annoyed by the monotony of their environment. She had just slain another pair of level 15 bats, this time even without help. “Isn’t there any easy way to find the exit?”
“I already told you that maps don’t exist as the floors rearrange them-self in system dungeons. You could search for a pitfall trap leading down a floor, if the next one is under the current one, but this dungeon doesn’t have traps in the first place.” The behavior of Sera was getting worse. While Nia could understand why the sword fighter felt that way, with everything being covered in fog and the visible parts of the cave not being very interesting, they were still in a dungeon. A place where the risk was more controlled than the world outside, but risks and dangers were still present. In many realms even more so than outside. “If you really want a shortcut why don’t you make one yourself?”
A moment of silence passed, before Sera asked her sister. “Sarah? Do you think we could create a hole to the next floor?” Surprisingly, or maybe not once Nia thought about where the twins came from and how they acted, Sera seemed to want to try out her joke idea.
And Sarah was apparently lost in thought, thinking about the questions. Though Nia couldn’t be that sure about the later, as the mage was usually pondering over whatever questions she had in mind. Another behavior the assassin would deem rather risky, with them being in a place where beasts appeared every couple of minutes, but could also understand as Sarah didn’t have the ability to participate in the fights. She was able to fire her water at enemies, but it wouldn’t have much of an effect against the ones in this dungeon and without experience it could easily hit or delay her team members. Staying back was probably the right choice for her, unless some kind of intervention was necessary or she had gained some team fighting experience in a safer environment.
Nia could understand all that, but it was still hard to not get angry at their recklessness.
“Hm… It looks like rock. So if you can give me some time-” After a few moments Sarah actually replied.
“Stop. That was meant as a joke. And you wouldn’t be able to drill a hole to any other part of the dungeon anyway. The space is distorted inside of dungeons and especially so in the instances created by the system. Even if you tried to connect two parallel paths on the same floor separated by a one centimeter thick wall, you could dig a tunnel over one kilometer long in any direction and still not reach the other side. The trap i mentioned earlier only works since it’s part of the dungeon. Besides, changing the structure would agitate the dungeon… Well, agitate it even more than it already is.”
The two were giving Nia a headache, but she had to admit that their abilities in the fields they specialized in were at least quite good.
With the sword girl a bit depressed that the shortcut didn’t work, they continued their exploration.
The time passed as they were walking and much more fighting their way through the dungeon.
Minutes turned into hours, yet with the aggression of the dungeon and most likely some bad luck on their site only late into the third hour they finally reached the end of the first floor. The outline of the stairway could already be seen through the fog, however the shapes of a group of spiders coming up from the deeper floors too.
While the spiders didn’t act like they had sensed them yet, a swarm of bats had. What made it worse was that the bats had come from the only other entrance to the room. All escape routes were blocked by enemies.
It would definitely be a fight far above the usual difficulty of the first floor or this dungeon in general, though their levels were at least normal. Normal for deeper floors that is, with the three spiders being level 15 and the four bats level 14.
With all the encounters until now, the assassin started to question whether one of the two maybe had some title, causing them to have bad luck.
However while the difficulty was definitely higher than usual, it still didn’t mean they were helpless. Thanks to the increased encounter rate, they all had gained levels and experience, aside from the mage in the background.
After a quick look at her sword wielding team member, who was already drawing her weapon with a grin, probably in anticipation of the new challenge, Nia was pretty sure that they weren’t planning on retreating once the opportunity arises. Following the example, the assassin quickly covered herself in darkness.
“I’ll take the spiders.” With the short whispered message the girl vanished into the fog and let her faith affinity guide her.
To her own amusement it let her also know that Sera wasn’t pleased with Nia claiming the eight legged beasts.
The bats were probably the more important targets, however, since she knew that Sera would be able to hold back one of the groups regardless, she had chosen the one with more advantages for her build. As a positive side effect she could prevent their tank from having to distract seven opponents.
Carefully and silently she was closing in on the spiders, but still kept a fast pace, before her window closed once her team members started their fight. Nia was well aware that her magic wasn’t optimal for the lighting conditions of a dungeon, but it still helped in making her form harder to perceive and let her train her mage-class. Without any use for her mana aside from the veil of darkness and a few skills similar to body enhancement, which only used up minute amounts of it, she didn’t have to hold back too much with its application.
In the moment the Sera and the bats clashed, while the spiders were confused by the sudden combat noise, Nia attacked her target. Her shortsword quickly sunk deep into one of the eight eyes, ending the life of the first enemy of the encounter. Contrary to the more mobile bats, the spiders were similarly limited to the dungeon delvers when they were on the move and hadn’t yet laid out their webs as a way to increase their detection range.
Having lost one of their own, the two remaining beasts on Nia’s side quickly tried to attack the formless shadow with watery arrows, however she was already back in the fog. Without knowing where their target was, they could only wait for her next appearance. Firing the projectile without aim into the fog might have been an option, if they had stronger magical abilities or a greater mana pool. Fortunately for their attacker, that wasn’t the case.
The second spider then died to a shadow clad blade stuck in between two carapace plates around the neck area. In rage over their loss, not caring anymore about managing their mana or simply in a desperate struggle to avoid death, the final spider lastly started to fire her water magic in the general direction of the assassin. Though unknown to the beast she had already moved further away. As they were beings relying on their eyes and nets, once one took those away from them, they became quite weak enemies.
It was a perfect situation for Nia. A point even Eas admitted with its message, as her blade took the life of the last spider, after distracting it with two daggers thrown against its legs.
[Your Assassin class has reached Lv 23.]
[You have reached Lv 17.]
Having taken care of her own opponents, she quickly returned to her team members. As she had expected, there wasn’t much left to do. The pieces of two of the bats were already lying on the floor and the other two joined shortly afterwards thanks to the improving techniques of Sera against airborne enemies.
They could finally go to the second floor.
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.