Akira and Varbu stood at the gates near the palace inspecting their armor and weapons one last time as they waited for Mileena and Maya to get ready for the days hunt.
According to the mermaid palace workers it was early morning, but Akira wouldn’t be able to tell if it was or not due to being so deep underwater so far away from the sun.
While they waited Akira continued to practice the new movement technique trying to get the last bit of practice in before going to the dungeons.
Ten minutes past before Mileena and Maya exited the gates and joined them.
“All ready? Then let’s go to the main gates,” said Akira making sure everyone had their armor and weapons in peak condition.
They were able to travel through the sparsely populated early morning streets quickly and reach the city’s main gates without a problem.
Chatterbox was waiting near the gates where two groups of mermaids were making one last check on their equipment.
“Good morning, I hope you guys have good luck with your clearing of the dungeons,” said Chatterbox.
“What are you not coming with us?” asked Akira.
“No, I’m in charge of the search group today. Have to keep a watch on the sirens as well to make sure they don’t try anything.”
Their short conversation was interrupted as a gray beard mermaid warrior swam over to the four.
“Are you the four that will be helping us?” asked the veteran warrior inspecting them.
“Yes, my name is Akira. This is Varbu, Mileena, and Maya,” said Akira introducing everyone.
“I am Orman. I will be the leader of this operation. If you need anything come ask me. I have heard great things about you from the Queen mainly that you saved the princess. We of the mermaid race thank you for that. I have a few questions I need to be answered before we can go in order to understand where to put you so that we can all work as efficiently as possible. How experienced are you with clearing dungeons?” asked Orman.
“We have cleared several dungeons mostly small to lower medium,” answered Akira.
Orman nodded his head, “Have you fought in any of the underwater dungeons? Do you have any specialty that would help the team out?”
“This will be our first time in such a dungeon. In our group, we have a good range of fighting skills, tank, ranged, burst, and brute force.”
“Very well, we only have three free seahorse mounts so two of you will have to ride together.”
“Mileena and I will share a mount,” said Maya.
“Although the mounts may look far different than what you are used to, you don’t have to worry they are far easier to ride than a horse. Now that you’re here we can leave and start,” said Orman.
“I heard from the Queen that we are to help clear dungeons that are close to overflowing but did not hear how many there was, do you know the number?” asked Akira.
“I lost count a while ago, but don’t worry, most of them are minor dungeons. You don’t need to worry, It’s just a bit of spring cleaning and with your help we can clear several of them in a day, speeding up the process.”
Akira and the others were speechless they knew how tough even small dungeons could be. Were all mermaids so carefree that they would call clearing dungeons spring cleaning?
Quest spring cleaning started!
The Queen has asked you to join Orman’s team in clearing dungeons that are close to overflowing. Don’t get careless.
Reward: a special gift from the Queen.
“Alright everyone mount up!” ordered Orman.
Thirty mermaid warriors as one mounted their seahorse mounts waiting for further orders.
Akira and the others found the three empty mounts left for them. One of them was larger than the others it was clearly brought out for carrying Varbu.
They hopped up into the empty saddles and familiarized themselves with the unique experience.
“Move out!” shouted Orman after seeing the four land folk were ready.
Akira urged his seahorse to follow the others and was amazed at how much of a different experience it was from riding a horse. Instead of the uncomfortable canter of a horse that one was forced to get used to, the seahorse just glided through the water making for a smooth and enjoyable ride.
While riding to the first dungeon Akira was able to get to know some of the mermaid warriors nearest him. Most of the group were professionals at clearing dungeons and had many scars and battle wounds that showed off their many battles they had been in and won.
“What type of dungeons are underwater dungeons?” asked Akira.
“Mostly small dark caves with a few odd mutated sea creatures. The medium to large dungeons are quite rare. The problem we have is there are far too many smaller dungeons which makes it harder to keep up with clearing them. The scouts try to make sure nothing is wrong in our territory while also reporting any dungeons they find to us. We have such a large backlog,” said Kaerio the second in command to Orman.
Kaerio was someone who Akira had gotten on friendly terms with when he learned Akira was the one that saved the princess.
A few hours passed before they reached their first dungeon.
“Halt! We will use the normal 10, 5, 15 formation,” ordered Orman as he hopped off his seahorse.
Akira had a confused expression and looked to Kaerio for an explanation.
“Ten people guard the seahorses and the entrance to the dungeon. Five people stay inside the dungeon but near the entrance so they can help either the warriors outside or the fifteen that go inside.”
“Why split up like that?” asked Varbu.
“In recent months there have been numerous attacks on our seahorses whenever we would enter the dungeons to clear them. Someone or something has been either stealing or killing our mounts making it harder for us to take care of the dungeons so we have been forced to take preventive measures,” explained Kaerio.
“Everyone will be on a rotation shift between fighting in the dungeon, support, and guard duty so we can all be at our best when fighting. You land folk will join the 15 of us that will be entering the dungeon so that you can get some experience,” said Orman interrupting the conversation they were having.
“Although we need to hurry and clear as many as we can today do not get careless or you will lose your life because you never know what might be inside. Let’s go,” said Orman.
The warning was more of a reminder to the new members of the dungeon clearing team than for the veteran members who had experienced many battles already.
Akira and Varbu were placed near the front to help defend and destroy any monsters inside the dungeon. The mermaids in the front line all used large seashell shields that glowed brightly in the water lighting up the surrounding area.
They did not need any sort of lanterns due to most of the warriors having weapons and armor that glowed lighting up the surrounding dark caves inside.
Mileena was given the task of supporting the team of fighters, while Maya was positioned in the rear the safest position so that she could support the team along with the few other archers who were in charge of sniping troublesome monsters with their arrows.
As soon as they entered the dungeon they were attacked by several creatures that looked similar to the crab men that they had fought over a week ago.
[Primitive Crabman Lvl 30] Akira nodded his head he was unsure what the difference between the two types was but his guess was right that they did have a connection.
Like Kaerio had said the dungeon was rather small there were only two rooms in this dungeon and had almost 50 [Primitive Crabman] crammed inside.
Akira was amazed at the skill and power of the mermaid’s attacks as he fought alongside them. He was able to hone his own skills to a higher level while fighting underwater and received a good chunk of experience and coins from killing the [Primitive Crabman]. If he continued like this then he could level up soon.
They spent the rest of the morning and into the early afternoon clearing one small dungeon after another discovering many odd-looking sea creatures.
There were no boss creatures in any of the dungeons that they cleared so far, and the experience gain was just like Akira had expected maybe even more than he could have hoped for he had already leveled up once and was now level 36 and was close to leveling up again!
Now that it was the afternoon Orman had decided to switch Akira and the others to guard duty to let them have some rest and let some of the other mermaid warriors get some exercise.
Besides Akira and co there were 6 other mermaids outside with them guarding the seahorses and the entrance to the dungeon.
They were currently eating a late afternoon lunch, a meat and seaweed sandwich while they took turns patrolling the area surrounding the dungeon.
To Akira, it was still an odd thing to eat underwater but he had grown used to it. The only thing he did not like was that everything had a salty taste to it due to the ocean and there was little to no other spices for flavoring.
“Danger!” shouted Kaerio who had also been put on guard duty with Akira and co.
Akira dropped his sandwich and grabbed his sword and shield leaving his half-eaten food to slowly sink to the ocean floor where a few fish interested in it started to nibble away at it until it was gone.
Akira made his way over to Kaerio and saw what he was looking at.
A large group of what looked to be Hammerhead sharks were swimming towards them. Akira inspected them to see what they were [Bonehead shark Lvl 35].
“Muen, go ask the support team to come and help!” ordered Kaerio.
Muen swam off quickly as soon as he received the order and was back within a minute with the five other warriors just in time to help intercept the [Bonehead sharks] and stop them from getting close to the seahorses.
Akira was unfamiliar with such creatures so he played it safe and stood still letting the [Bonehead sharks] come to him.
The [Bonehead shark] who had its eyes on Akira saw this as a challenge to its power and surged forward.
Although Mileena and the two other mermaid archers shot arrows at the charging [Bonehead sharks] they were all blocked when the [Bonehead sharks] used their large bony heads as a shield for the rest of their unarmored body.
Bam! The [Bonehead shark] slammed into Akira driving him back down to the seabed creating a small crater. The [Bonehead shark] turned around to swim away and start another charge.
But as soon as it did a blue light slammed into and cut open its unprotected stomach.
It was a fatal blow that did not kill it immediately, but it was now leaking blood and guts because of the skill [sword slash] and would die soon even if Akira did not finish it off.
Just to be on the safe side Akira exited the crater his sword darting forward and impaled the sharks exposed heart killing it.
The sound of battle was coming from everywhere.
Mileena was helping Maya fight a [Bonehead shark] by luring it into a position that let Maya shoot its vital organs without the [Bonehead shark] being able to block the arrows with its head.
Varbu jumped from the ground and launched himself towards one of the [Bonehead sharks] using his full strength and slamming his quarterstaff into the head of [Bonehead shark].
Crack! The sound Varbu’s attack added to the multiple other sounds of the life and death battle. The [Bonehead shark] he had chosen to fight was forced to a stop form the powerful attack and swam in a dizzy circle for a few seconds trying to get its head straight.
A large crack on the [Bonehead shark’s] bony head could be seen where he had attacked it.
Again Varbu launched himself from the ground and let the [Bonehead shark] get a good taste of getting clobbered to death.
With the support warriors and Akira’s group, they were able to defeat the last of the [Bonehead sharks].
“Look someones swimming away,” shouted Mileena pointing towards a distant blurry figure that looked similar to a mermaid.
“Damn I knew it was the Sirens behind these attacks! Support you stay here and protect the rest of the mounts the rest of you we must chase after them we can not let them get away!” shouted Kaerio.
The rest of the group including Akira and co. hopped onto their seahorses and chased after the distant figure that was trying to escape from them.
They were unable to get close enough to capture them due to the siren getting onto their own mount and started to lead them on a wild chase that lasted for over an hour. They managed to always stay out of range of any attacks.
The group was forced to stop as they watched the siren escape into a large cave structure some distance ahead of them.
“Darn it! We can’t chase them in there since we have no clue what could be waiting for us inside,” cursed a mermaid warrior.
“Don’t worry, we know where they are so we can come back later with the rest of the group,” said Kaerio.
“Let’s hurry and head back, the faster we report this the faster we can come back and capture whoever it is hiding in there.”