Arc 12 Chapter 298: Steps to Doom

“So how’s their training?” asked Akira, who was stuck behind a desk in his office finishing up all of the paperwork that had been piling up while he was out on his adventures hunting bandits and demigods.

“Which group? The new demigod recruits or the members already in the [Full moon] guild?”

“Ah yeah… I still need to set a date to hold the ceremony for those new members, I’ll have to do that later. I was really asking about the [Full Moon] members’ hell training.”

“I have been training them every day as you have asked,” said Zundar. “After their horrendous performance, the first few days leading to several broken bones they have taken my training to heart and have learned to dodge, dip, duck, and dive away from my attacks… most of the time.”

“And the slimes?”

“The farm is almost empty. I have been keeping them fighting the slimes every minute that they are not training with me. There were a few close calls but no one died, not that it matters with them. They have all grown noticeably stronger… but that’s not saying much because they were all weaklings before.”

“Yap!” said Fluffball, agreeing with Zundar. He returned to chewing on his new stuffed Wyvern toy that Mileena had made for him. The chew toy looked a lot like Pii’per…

“The most promising of the weaklings so far is that weirdo Beater. I have been training them to be able to transform at will during the night but they still seem to take a bit longer than normal. They’ve been resting since yesterday since I didn’t want them to die from exhaustion.”

KNOCK! KNOCK!

Akira looked to Zundar questioningly to see if he had called someone else to join him.

Zundar shook his head no.

“Come in,” said Akira, unsure who it could be interrupting his private meeting.

Klyn stepped into the room and after closing the door immediately said, “The Kamen have sent a request for Kodria’s help. There is a dungeon close to where one of their towns is and it is nearing an overflow. They sent a group of warriors to clear it but have not heard from them since they left… Do you want us to send some of the soldiers and a few shamen to see if they can clear it for them and if they can find the missing Kamen clearing party?”

Akira perked up at hearing this, he wiped off the ink from his feather pen and dropped it into a small jar holding similar feather pens.

“All the most recent reports we have received have said that the dungeons nearby are nowhere near reaching an overflow. How did we miss something like this?” asked Akira. “If one happens so close to the harvest festival… Those that will be traveling here to join the festivity as well as the merchants on the roads will be swarmed by the escaped dungeon monsters. There is also the high possibility of the towns and villages near the dungeon being wiped out.”

“I know Kodria is still on high alert for any mischief so it will be hard for us to spare many soldiers, but it was a request that we can not really ignore,” said Klyn.

“That’s not a problem, I have the perfect solution for that,” said Akira standing up from his desk.

“Samuel, let Azura know that I have taken care of the majority of the paperwork. She should be able to take care of the rest while I am gone,” said Akira to his aide standing in the corner.

“I will let her know immediately,” said Samuel.

“Let’s go Fluffball! Zundar you should come as well.”

***

Akira and the main members of the [Full Moon] guild rode as fast as they could to reach the dungeon that, according to the Kamen reports, was dangerously close to an overflow.

The minor lycans of the [Full moon] guild were no longer wearing the mismatched, ragged, and rusted armor that they had been using for a long time due to a lack of money and skilled blacksmiths in the remote areas they had been traveling through.

Now they were all outfitted with similar matching dark blue metal and leather armor that was several times stronger than what they had been using.

On the upper right chest of their armor, there was a large picture of a silver full moon with the Initials FM underneath. It was made out of a colored metal to give it more of a pop to catch people’s eyes.

“Remember, normally this dungeon would be just right for you to clear. But right now it has gone into an overflow state. The monsters will be more frenzied and there will definitely be more monsters breeding faster than normal,” said Akira as he once again reminded the members of the [Full Moon] guild.

“I haven’t seen an overflow before, is it really as bad as they say?” asked Galena, one of Sister Teresa’s 4 high-level guards. She was skilled in wind attacks, and speed buffs.

“That’s surprising since you are high-level,” said Zundar.

“I have cleared many dungeons, just not any that are ready to overflow.”

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“Not all overflows are the same, some are less dangerous than others. Although Kodria has nothing to fear from this dungeon. The traveling civilians and nearby towns will stand little chance in withstanding such a wave of monsters if they escape,” said Akira.

“Duke Akira! I see a campsite up ahead!” shouted Crowbahr who was at the front of the group with the scouts and was now pointing in a direction ahead of them with her new metal crowbar. Even with her new armor she still looked like a hothead ruffian who was ready to start trouble if you didn’t hold her back.

“Let’s go check it out!”

When they reached what looked to be a temporary campsite they found no one there. The equipment and food left in the tents were definitely from the Kamen race. Zundar searched the ground around the campsite while Akira and Fluffball sniffed around the campsite they were unable to find any sign of a struggle or the smell of blood in the area which is a good sign. The fires were several days old so the Kamen warriors were probably able to make their way to the dungeon.

“I sure hope everything is alright,” said Sweety as she looked around the area.

Everyone stayed on high alert as they left the temporary camp and headed to the dungeon.

When they were nearing the rocky area on the map that the Kamen had pointed out to them a voice rang out.

“Stop!” shouted a male from inside the cave-like entrance of the dungeon.

The man who had shouted stepped out of the inner entrance and blocked their path.

Akira looked at the man to see who he was [Grub lvl 70].

“The [Cunning Shadow] guild has claimed this dungeon. You are not allowed to enter until we finish our mission. If you really need to enter, then you can pay a small price for each person that wants to enter,” said Grub.

Akira had no patience for being polite with such a person but sister Teresa spoke before he could.

“We are looking for a group of Kamen warriors. Have you seen them?”

“Nope. I’ve been standing out here the whole time. No demon race has entered this dungeon yet. Even if they did, what could they do?”

“Yap,” said Fluffball as he sniffed the ground and then Grub.

“I agree, they’re inside,” said Akira, stepping forward to bypass Grub and enter the dungeon.

“Wait! You haven’t paid!” said the demigod side-stepping in front of Akira with his hand held out.

Akira’s hand shot out and grabbed Grub’s wrist and yanked it behind his back, nearly popping his arm out of its socket.

“I’m not one of the weak civilians that your kind like to torment,” said Akira sniffing the air around the demigod.

“What are you, some type of pervert? Why are you smelling me? Owwww! Let go of my arm!”

“I can smell day-old blood on you… don’t try saying it’s just monster blood. I know the difference,” said Akira as he shoved the man to the side and entered the dungeon’s entrance.

Ding!

You have entered the ‘Steps to Doom’ dungeon.

Behind Akira, the sound of breaking bones could be heard as Zundar quickly took care of the demigod.

“There may be a chance that a few of the party members are still alive… but if they are not, we will gather their bodies and return them to the town for a proper burial,” said Akira.

As everyone entered the dungeon, the darkness was lit up by a magical gold flame that floated in the air several steps away from the group.

Startled by the sudden appearance of the gold flame, everyone huddled together and looked around searching for monsters or demigods, but found nothing.

With the gold light shining and lighting up a large portion of the space around them they were able to find a large set of spiraling stairs in front of them. The stairs were just large enough to have 4 people standing next to each other.

From what Akira could see, the stairs spiraled down deep into the dungeon. There were no walls or handrails on either side of the spiraling tower of stairs. The area around it was just a wide-open and empty pitch-black abyss, which was impossible to tell how wide or deep it went.

“Listen up everyone. This is the real deal to test out how far your training has come! Form up like you learned before!”

Four of the heavily armored Minor Lycans took up the front row while Zundar and three others guarded the rear. Akira, Fluffball, Dolph, and Vilkas were in the second row. While sister Teresa and the other weaker members stayed in the center.

With a silent command from Akira, they began to carefully descend the spiraling stairs.

As they descended, the floating gold light did not follow them and just stayed where it was. The light slowly grew dimmer the farther they went down.

The gold light far above them was extinguished leaving everyone in darkness for a few seconds before a new floating gold light lit up next to them nearly blinding everyone.

They stopped for a second to regain their vision and scan the area for any enemies but found everything was just as before.

This continued several times before the group reached a small square checkered 10×10 platform that the stairwell ended on. On the other side of the small platform was another set of wall-less spiraling stairs that continued to descend into the darkness.

After a quick scan of the platform, they found no monsters, demigods, or bodies of their allies. Only the scent of old blood lingered in the air and on the checkered stone floor.

“Yap?” asked Fluffball.

“Let’s hope that’s not what happened,” said Akira as he looked over the edge and into the deep darkness that had no end.

As they continued down the spiraling towers of stairs attached to the checkered platforms, they continued to find that each of them was empty. The gold lights that lit up their paths continued to extinguish themselves when the group was out of its range and a new one would light up a second later nearly blinding them each time.

Akira began to take notice that the farther they went down the wider the stairs were becoming, from the initial four people to five, and then six.

They could now see signs of hard-fought battles all over the stairs and platforms with discarded broken weapons and armor littering the ground. Some of the weapons and armor only had slight damage and could be fixed if one knew the basics of blacksmithing.

Since many of the discarded weapons and armor had been made out of special minerals Akira was not one to waste such a gift and grabbed everything, shoving it into his bag.

When they reached the fifth checkered platform they found that the spiraling tower of stairs no longer descended into the darkness but were once again ascending into the darkness high above them.

Again there were still no signs of monsters or the bodies of the Kamen warriors.

Akira walked to the edge of the checkered platform and looked into the endless darkness to see if there was a floor below them but could see nothing. Nor could he hear any sounds coming from the darkness no matter how long he tried to listen.

“This dungeon is creepy,” said Sweety.

“Which dungeon is not weird or creepy?” asked Rondie.

“The slime arena,” said Beater.

“Ugh, don’t mention that place!” shouted Sweety.

“Everyone, although we have not found anything so far, this is no time to be slacking off. Let’s continue pushing forward!” said Akira.

The large stairs were starting to be a pain to climb as they climbed up several hundred steps that were getting slightly taller and wider for every level that they rose.

Akira held up a hand to stop everyone.

He along with everyone stood there quietly and listened intently.

“Yap!” said Fluffball excitedly.

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“Someone is indeed fighting above us. Everyone, pick up the pace. If that is the Kamen warriors fighting, then we need to help them!”

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