Mendores lead the way out of the trap room, with Estellese by his side and Kadin and Zanath following right behind them with the swords. They re-entered the crossroads room they had been in before, then turned and went east into the room that was half filled with water.
They walked into the room and cautiously looked around. When nothing happened, and they saw that there was nothing but the water in the room they relaxed their guard, but didn't lower their weapons.
"It's an empty room?" Mendores mused. "I expected another trap or something."
"Why is there water in the room?" Estellese asked. "That is a bit odd, and out of place isn't it? Maybe there is a reason for it?"
"We don't know, it could just be random design. Or leftovers from a recent flood." Kadin said "but you are right, it could be there for a reason..."
"Underwater room..." Zanath murmured.
"What?" Kadin asked.
"There is a room down there. Behind the rock." Zanath said as he pointed out into the deep, back corner of the pool of water, on the right side. The water was dark everywhere except that corner, which was still dark but was ever so slightly brighter than the rest of the pool. "It's brighter in that corner, almost in the shape of an opening. Must be an opening to another room."
"How do you notice these things?" Estellese questioned him.
Zanath shrugged "I thought it was obvious..."
"No... A barely noticeable light in the back corner of deep water is not obvious... Not to normal people at least" Estellese stated. "Neither is the position of the sun while running away from a massive horde of goblins."
Zanath just shrugged again. "I don't see how people wouldn't notice it... But I'll take your word for it."
"So we're going for a swim then?" Mendores asked, looking around at the others for their opinions. He saw Estellese and Zanath nod as they stepped closer to the water.
"Bad idea" Kadin stated abruptly. Making everyone stop and turn to him. "What if the water is poisoned or otherwise toxic? Or if there is something we can't see in the water? If we all jump in it would be the end of us." He stated. "Two people should go in and investigate the potential door. The other two wait here for a minute and watch over the two in the water. If they get through the door and don't come back, then it's probably safe to follow them. If something in the water goes after them, or they start struggling in the water, then it's probably not safe or poisoned." He explained.
Mendores frowned and hesitated. "I don't like splitting up... But if the water may be poisoned then you are right, we should be cautious before we all jump in. And considering how harsh the game has been so far, I wouldn't be surprised if the water was poisoned. I don't think it is, mind you, but it wouldn't surprise me at this point."
Estellese nodded "so, me and you go in Mendores? Let the other two follow if it's safe."
Kadin nodded. "Sounds like a plan to me. You two should have the skill to take down anything that may be waiting in the next room."
"No. Me and Estell are the best fighters. Sending the best fighters away would leave you two defenseless if you get attacked." Mendores stated. "Well, not completely defenseless, but not as safe as you'd be with us."
"But we need all our attack force to be in the front to face whatever may be in that room." Kadin stated. "Forget defending the people who stay behind. Keep the front lines strong. The back lines are less important since they likely won't face combat."
Mendores shook his head. "No Kadin, we need to make sure the back lines are safe too. You and Estellese head into the water. Me and Zanath will wait here and will follow once you two safely make it through. Or I'll jump in and pull you out if there is any problems and then Zanath can use the potions on us."
"Wait what?" Estellese said "why do I have to go with HIM? The guy who doesn't listen and eats random potions and herbs he finds lying around. Hows he supposed to help if we find trouble?"
Kadin pouted but before he could speak Mendores spoke up. "Estell, you will be fine, trust me. He's not as stupid as he seems."
Kadin raised an eyebrow "I am not sure whether I should be insulted or complimented."
"I'd say both" Mendores replied, then smirked a little. "I trust ya enough to put you on the front lines, I know you can handle yourself." He added.
Kadin smirked a little "I'll take it as a compliment then." He replied. "Let's go and get this done Estell. " he added. Kadin turned and walked up to the edge of the water. He took his bag off his shoulder and dropped it on the ground, not wanting the food to get wet. Then went to sheathe his sword but realized that he didn't have a sheath. For a moment he awkwardly fumbled with the sword, trying to figure out where he could put it since he needed both hands to swim. But eventually he came to a solution, and took off his shirt.
Mendores and Estellese gave him a questioning look, while Zanath nodded in understanding. "I'm just gonna... go..." Estellese said in a rather awkward and weirded out tone, before diving into the water and starting to swim deeper down into the water, towards the corner that was concealed behind the rock.
Kadin took his shirt and tied the arms tightly around his waist as if it were a belt, then he slipped the sword between his pants and his tied-on shirt, using his shirt to hold it in place. "See you guys on the other side" he said before he too dove into the water and swam after Estellese.
Zanath and Mendores watched them go, then took a seat by the edge of the water, watching them to make sure they were okay. "I wanted a moment to talk to you. I just don't know what to think of Kadin..." Mendores mused. "I mean, he does a lot of stupid things, but they always work out one way or another. Is he smart and planning these things or just plain lucky?"
Zanath shrugged. "Could go either way really. We will have to see"
"Think it was a good idea sending him alone with Estellese?" Mendores asked
"No." Zanath replied. "I'm not concerned about a monster getting them, I'm more worried about them killing each other. They don't like each other. She hates his cockiness. He knows she hates it and is purposely being cocky to irritate her. I wouldn't be surprised if he pissed her off and she killed him" Zanath said flatly.
"Good point... Maybe I should have gone instead of sending her." Mendores thought out loud. "But, admittedly she's a better fighter than I am, if anything is on the other side she has the best chances of beating it out of everyone here."
"You are pretty good yourself." Zanath pointed out.
"Good, yes, but not as good as her." Mendores replied. "You and Kadin are learning and picking up on all this incredibly fast too. Which is good."
"I don't know why, I seem to just be learning and picking things up much easier than normal." Zanath replied. "Been like that ever since we entered the game."
"Huh, I hadn't noticed, but now that you mention it, me too." Mendores mused.
Kadin swam deeper and deeper into the water, swimming towards the rock in the corner of the pool. When he finally reached the rock he peeked around to see what was making the light that was coming from behind it. He saw an opening in the wall behind the rock, into a brighter room. Not having a lot of air left he swam towards the opening in hopes that there was a place to get some air in the room it lead to.
Kadin swam through the opening and found something that struck him as odd. He was at a crossroads, the paths through the water went left and right. He wasn't sure which way Estellese went, but that wasn't what struck him as odd. The stone wall in front of him was perfectly flat, there was no way that it was natural. A natural stone couldn't be that flat and couldn't come to a perfect corner like this one did. He found it odd it looked man-made, better than man-made actually, but he was running out of air and couldn't stay under the water to ponder why this may be here. He looked down the left path, then down the right path, trying to figure out which one would lead him to air. Then he looked up and realized that the wall in front of him stopped just a few inches above the water. He could climb on top of this wall to get out of the water. "That works" he thought before he swam up and grabbed onto the top of the wall, then pulled himself up onto it. Curiously, he looked around as he caught his breath to see what was in this room.
"Holy crap!"' he shouted as he dove and rolled to the side. Barely getting out of the way before a massive axe slammed into the ground where he had been, the loud clang of metal and stone clashing echoed through the room and the ground shook. Kadin looked up to see an eleven foot tall hulking mass of pure muscle, with the head, legs, and tail of a bull but the furry torso and arms of a human, and two hooves for feet. A Minotaur, carrying a massive axe that had a blade bigger than Kadin's torso.
Kadin quickly glanced around the room, trying to see what he had to work with, what scenery he could use, what else he had to fight in here, what hazards he could use against the beast. A quick glance around the room revealed that he was standing on a perfectly flat platform that was surrounded on all sides by the water he had come out of. There was nothing on the platform aside from himself, the minotaur, and a treasure chest on the opposite side. Kadin knew he couldn't touch the chest with the Minotaur bearing down on him, and there was nothing here to help fight the beast. It was an arena, clearly built to force the players to face the Minotaur head-on. But how?
The Minotaur stepped towards Kadin to close the distance, slashing its axe horizontally for Kadin's torso. Kadin jumped backwards, landing on the edge of the platform and narrowly getting out of the reach of the beast's axe to dodge the swing.
He looked over the beast, trying to analyze the creature. Starting at the head, he noted the horns and knew that bulls had incredibly hard skulls. He crossed that off the list of targets, it was too tall to reach its head anyways. He then glanced at the torso, huge and muscular, so much muscle that he probably wouldn't hit anything vital if he attacked there, crossed that off the list of targets. He glanced down to the minotaur's legs, they were hooves and were not quite as muscular as the rest of the creature. He narrowed his eyes at the bottom of the minotaur's hooves, unlike a foot the hooves were smaller and round, like walking on stilts. Kadin smirked widely ".... Peggy..." Kadin murmured.
"What?" Estellese's voice called out from behind the Minotaur. As the Minotaur charged at him again Kadin glanced behind the beast to see Estellese pulling herself out of the water and onto the platform to help. She must have swam around the platform instead of climbing right ontop of it.
"I have named him Peggy! Because he has peg legs!" Kadin shouted out as the Minotaur ran up to him and pulled its axe back to swing it at him again.
"Those are hooves you idiot!" Estellese shouted back as she ran at the Minotaur from behind. Unsure of how she was going to attack the beast.
As the Minotaur swung its axe horizontally at Kadin again he quickly ducked underneath the axe. It swung over his head with so much power that the gust of wind it left behind messed up Kadin's hair and almost knocked him off balance. Then, Kadin rolled backwards into the water and dove deep down, out of sight.
The Minotaur glanced down into the water, and not seeing Kadin anymore it turned to Estellese and swung its axe backhanded at her, the blade was only on one side of the axe so swinging it backhanded would hit her with the blunt side.
Estellese turned and grabbed the handle of the axe as quickly as she could, trying to hold it back. But the Minotaur was too strong, she was knocked onto her back and was sent skidding across the stone floor. Since it was a backhand swing and not a full power swing she almost stopped it, and got away with just a few scrapes and bruises. She quickly climbed back onto her feet, hurt but okay. "Kadin! Where the hell did you go?" She shouted out.
The Minotaur marched towards Estellese, axe in hand, the hulking eleven foot tall beast would be intimidating to most people, but Estellese was not bothered by it. She marched right back towards the beast, determined to take it down even if Kadin wasn't going to help.
As the two neared each other the Minotaur swung its axe down at Estellese, who quickly sidestepped the swing. The axe slammed into the ground and cracked the stone floor, sending tremors and the echoing sound of metal hitting stone through the room. As the minotaur's axe hit the ground Estellese looked up at the beast that was twice her size, then jumped up and slammed her fist into the minotaur's stomach. The beast was so tall that that was the highest point she could effectively reach with a jump.
The Minotaur grunted in pain and stumbled back, but was otherwise unharmed and promptly swatted Estellese out of the air with the hand that was not holding the axe. The blow knocked the wind out of Estellese and broke two of her ribs but she grabbed onto the beast's large arm to prevent herself from being launched across the room from the sheer force of the attack.
The beast was not of high intelligence, feeling something stuck to its arm it raised its arm up closer to its face to see what it was, and in that moment Estellese let go of its arm, and jumped at its face, grabbing onto the beast's horns as she slammed both of her heels into the minotaur's eyes. The minotaur roared out in pain and stumbled backwards, but Estellese didn't stop. She kicked it hard in the side of the head, then slammed her other knee into its snout, then kicked it in the chin with her first leg again as her second leg pulled back to slam another heel into its throat, then raising both of her legs to drive her heels into the minotaur's eyes once more before she just started wildly and fiercely kicking, kneeing and slamming her heels into it's face as fast and hard as she could.
The minotaur roared out in pain again and again, trying to shake her off. Her hard blows to the face were making it stumble backwards and its arms flew out to the sides as it struggled to keep balanced on its hooves. Until finally with a roar of rage it regained its bearings, grabbed Estellese with its free hand, then yanked her off its own face and threw her across the room. She hit the wall on the opposite side of the room with a shout of pain and fell into the water, but right away she pulled herself out of the water and back onto the platform, badly injured but refusing to stay down. Her forehead was bleeding and bruised from where she hit the wall. She glanced up at the minotaur, its face was covered in blood that was pouring out of its eyes and nose, its eyes were shut and not opening, it was thrashing about and blindly swinging its axe in the general direction it had thrown Estellese but wasn't even coming close to hitting her. But, other than being blinded and a bit bruised, it seemed unharmed. She took a deep breath to steady her heavy panting and wiped the blood off her forehead, preparing to go after it again, glaring straight into the minotaur's closed eyes..
It was then that the minotaur roared out in pain and suddenly collapsed to the ground. Estellese was a little confused, what had happened? Her gaze shifted from the minotaur's head back down at the ground and saw Kadin standing behind the fallen minotaur with a bloody sword, and noticed that the back of the minotaur's legs had been cut and were now bleeding quite badly. Then, she realized that Kadin was carrying a few small miscellaneous items in his free hand, all of them were stacked up on top of each other and balanced carefully on the palm of his hand. She turned to see that the treasure chest the minotaur had been guarding was open and empty now. With an irritated sigh she turned to Kadin. "Did you loot the chest while I was fighting that thing?"
Kadin's eyes shifted to look around the room and he hesitated for a second. ".... Possibly...." He replied unsurely.
"What the hell! I could have died you idiot!" Estellese shouted at him as she walked over to him, ignoring the minotaur that was now flailing on the ground. Kadin had sliced the tendons in the back of the beast's legs, paralyzing both of it's legs and rendering it unable to get up.
"I thought you would run... I don't know why you stayed to fight the thing. It has peg legs, we can out maneuver it." Kadin replied.
Estellese grabbed the miscellaneous items that Kadin took from the chest out of his hands and looked them over. A book, five scrolls, and four vials with red liquid which looked like the healing potions they found in the store.
"Hey! I found them, and I killed the beast. Well, with your help, but I got the treasure, knocked the creature down and incapacitated it myself." Kadin protested. But as soon as he finished speaking Estellese answered him simply by taking the book and thumping him over the head with it, knocking him onto the floor. With that and the irritated look on her face, he promptly stopped asking for the loot and instead went to examine the minotaur.
As Estellese sat down and opened the book to start skimming over it, the sound of something moving in the water could be heard on the other side of the room, and a moment later Mendores climbed out of the water. He looked around the room with an amused expression on his face, noting the bloodstains on the floor and wall, the small craters in the floor from the minotaur's axe, the incapacitated beast flailing on the ground, and that Estellese was battered and bleeding. "Nice. You okay?" He commented with an impressed look on his face. "anything in the chest?"
"A spell book, what appears to be more healing potions, and some scrolls I haven't looked at." Estellese answered. "And yeah, I'm fine." She said despite her broken ribs and badly bruised body.
"A spell book?" Mendores asked. "So we can use magic... Can I see?" He asked as he sat down beside Estellese and tried to read the book over her shoulder. But he frowned, the pages were blank. "Erm... The pages are blank Estellese."
"No they are not." Estellese replied. "It is a detailed instruction manual on how to use a fireball."
"It's blank" Kadin stated as he stood behind her and leaned over her shoulder to look at the book.
"No seriously. It is not blank" Estellese stated. "Look" she said before she took a deep breath and held out her hand, then she started to focus. A few seconds passed and nothing happened, until suddenly there was a spark of flames in her palm. Just a brief spark before the flames died. "Damn, it's harder than it looks" she muttered.
Mendores shrugged. "Well, you got a spark. Maybe only you can see the book for some reason. What's on the scrolls?" He asked as he picked one up and opened it to read it.
As he did that, the sound of water moving could be heard again and Zanath pulled himself out of the water and onto the platform.
"Oh there you are Zanath." Mendores said. "You were right behind me when I swam into here. Where did you go?"
"Followed the left and right paths to see if there was anything else under the water. It is a circle, well, a square technically. Nothing else down there." He answered, looking over the struggling Minotaur with a puzzled expression. He grabbed his sword and walked over to the beast, being careful to avoid its flailing arms, then he slit its throat in one swift swipe of his sword. "Shouldn't leave it alive. Don't want it surprising us when we are not paying attention. Plus we don't know if they heal when not hit for a while like normal NPCs in games do." He stated.
"We also don't know if they respawn, and it respawning on top of us would be bad" Kadin added.
"Good point" Zanath nodded.
"Alright, guys." Mendores spoke up. "These scrolls seem to be spell scrolls." He said. "The instructions say to touch the scroll and then focus on it, and it will cast the spell for you."
Estellese raised an eyebrow and looked up from the book. "If magic can be cast that easily, what is the use of this dumb book? It goes through this complicated process to cast a spell." She questioned. To which Mendores shrugged.
"What spells do the scrolls cast? Do they say?" Zanath asked.
Mendores nodded and started opening each scroll one at a time. Reading off what each spell did. "Blink: Teleports the user to a targeted location instantaneously."
"Dibs" Kadin stated.
Mendores glanced up at him for a moment with a raised eyebrow, but didn't say anything and turned his attention back to the scrolls. "The second one is a barrier spell. It projects a barrier around the caster, the barrier will protect the caster from harm but will break if it takes too much damage. The third one is called death's grasp, when used the first living target you touch will have the life drained out of them. Any life drained from the target will heal the caster. Takes nine seconds of holding onto the target to drain all of their life and kill them, losing contact with the target ends the spell. The fourth spell is bolt, it takes three seconds to charge but after the charge it fires a powerful lightning bolt at the target location. And the last scroll is gale, it says it creates a massive windstorm in the target area with very powerful winds." Mendores listed off. Then he took a deep breath, "Does anyone want to pick their own spells? Or is it okay if I give them out to the people I see best fit?"
"I have dibs on blink" Kadin stated.
"None of them really interest me" Zanath replied.
"I like all of them except the bolt one and gale ones" Estellese replied.
"Alright." Mendores said, then handed out the scrolls. He gave blink to Kadin since Kadin wanted it and giving the swordsman a teleport attack would be useful, Kadin looked over it, then folded it up and put it in his pocket. He gave death's grasp to Estellese since she was the best at grappling and he knew that she was wounded and hurt despite her tough act, he figured this would heal her injuries. He gave bolt to Zanath, since Zanath had the best accuracy and a lightning bolt would presumably be hard to aim. Then held onto barrier and gale himself. "Barrier is the spell I want, I can turn a strong defense into a killer offense. And gale is a tactical spell so I feel it is best left in my hands since I am the tactician here, Zanath and Kadin are both strategists not tacticians. Any objections?" He asked.
Everyone looked around but nobody objected. So after a moment Mendores spoke up again "alright. With that all set lets get moving." He said. "Estellese are you sure that you are okay? You look a little battered from that fight." He asked.
"I will be fine." Estellese replied.
"If you say so." Mendores replied "So our next goal is to scout out the hallway on the left of that four way intersection we found previously. Let's go."
"How are we going to keep the book and scrolls dry?" Zanath pointed out. Making everyone stop for a moment.
Kadin, who like everyone else was still soaked from swimming pulled his scroll out of his pocket and looked at it, inspecting it closely, it was dry. Then, he pulled it back and threw it into the water. Ignoring the gasps and odd looks from the others, he walked over to the edge of the platform and watched his scroll sink lower and lower until it reached the bottom.
"Kadin... Why did you do that?" Mendores asked unsurely.
To which Kadin shrugged. "I dunno."
"Did you hit your head?" Estellese asked.
"No, if I remember correctly I believe it was you who was hit in the head." Kadin said. Then, without warning he jumped into the water and swam to the bottom, grabbing his scroll and bringing it back up to the surface. He climbed back onto the platform and inspected the scroll again, noting for the second time that it was still dry. "The scrolls are waterproof. Book probably is too." He stated.
"You are insane. And lucky." Estellese replied. She hesitantly looked down at her book before she pulled back both sides of the cover and flipped it face-down, so just one page that had nothing but a picture on it was hanging down from it. Then she cautiously dipped that page halfway into the water and pulled it back up, looking closely to see that the page was still dry and unfazed by the water.
Mendores nodded a little. "Well, I guess it isn't too far-fetched to say that they are magically waterproof since they are magic items. Would kinda stink if a mage lost all their spells just because it started to rain in the middle of a battle. At least the game isn't completely cruel."
"Yes, that would suck." Kadin replied. "Imagine being a mage who uses the water element, but if you get your books and scrolls wet you can't use magic anymore. That would just be silly."
"Anyways, lets get moving. We don't know what else lies ahead." Mendores stated before he jumped back into the water and began swimming back to the previous room. The others followed shortly after him, with Estellese going last. Her broken ribs were slowing her down and making the swim back very painful.. But in time the four of them made it back to the room with the water and picked up the stuff they had left in the room.
Estellese checked her book to see that it was undamaged by the water. And with that she placed the book in Zanath's duffel bag so she would not need to carry it.
"Alright. Remember, stay in formation and follow me." Mendores said as he took the lead with Estellese by his side. Zanath and Kadin readied their swords and followed along right behind them. The four of them walked out of the room, across the crossroads room they had been in previously, and into the hallway to the west. It was the only direction they had not explored yet.
The hallway-like section of the cave stretched a long ways to the west, although the group could see a side path to the north. It was not a narrow hall, it was pretty wide, so they had space to maneuver. They stayed on guard as they walked, making it about halfway down the hallway before they could hear something growling.
Out from behind a small pile of rocks walked another monster. It had the body of a lion, the head of a ram with 4' long horns on its head. There was a 6' long snake where its tail should be, and the snake seemed capable of moving on its own by the way it hissed and stood up almost straight upon seeing the humans.
The four Alphas gasped and took a step back upon seeing the creature, Kadin and Zanath raised their swords but were unsure of how to get close enough to strike. Mendores started making a plan in his head, but before he could speak the creature inhaled a deep breath, then suddenly spat a stream of searing hot flames at the group, making Mendores and Kadin dive left, while Estellese and Zanath dove right to evade the flames.
"No time to sit around!" Mendores called out quickly and panickedly. "Zanath, Kadin, flank from the right and left sides. Estellese, we attack from the front. Go!"
Mendores and Estellese rushed in head-on towards the creature, and as expected it spat another stream of flames at the two of them, forcing them to jump to the sides to get out of the way again. But this bought Kadin and Zanath enough time to get around on the sides of the beast. Kadin moved in first and slashed his sword at the neck of the creature, but the snake-tail moved with lightning fast speeds and threw itself infront of the blade. Kadin's sword was not sharp enough to cut through the scales of the snake's body, it did nothing to the snake aside from leaving a few scrapes on its scales.
Zanath moved in from the other side, slashing his sword down at the monster's back and aiming for its spine. However the creature tilted its head back, moving it's horn infront of the sword to block that attack too.
The snake-tail lunged for Kadin after blocking his attack, aiming to bite his shoulder with it's lightning-fast speeds. But Kadin quickly used his sword to push it away from himself before it could bite him. The beast went to jerk its head back to try and jab its horns at Zanath, but before it could do so Estellese had gotten back onto her feet and grabbed the beast's horns. She was struggling with it, fighting to hold it down as the creature bucked and fought back. Trying to pull away, trying to push forwards and bite her, trying anything it could to get out of her grip. Her broken ribs were searing with pain, the more it struggled the more she hurt, she couldn't hold it back for long.
The snake-tail moved away from Kadin and in the blink of an eye lunged to bite Estellese's neck. But Mendores was right on the mark, he slammed his bone-club up into the bottom of the snake, knocking the snake-tail backwards and away from Estellese.
The beast took in a deep breath again, and Estellese knew that it was about to blast more flames directly at her. She was standing right infront of its face after all. She let go and quickly dove to the side to get out of the way, but while she did that both Kadin and Zanath stabbed their swords into the sides of the creature. Causing it to roar out in pain as flames burst from its mouth again. Estellese and Mendores had bought them just enough time to get their attacks in. As the beast struggled and stumbled backwards in pain, stunned momentarily from being stabbed twice, Mendores rushed in and slammed his bone-club down on the creature's head, knocking the creature to the ground.
The snake-tail lunged for Mendores this time, aiming to bite his shoulder. But Mendores leaned his head forwards, putting his head infront of the snake's bite. With a loud pang the snake hit the metal helmet he was wearing, the one he had stolen from the goblins back in the city, the night they found the grocery store. Then Estellese immediately grabbed the snake and used her strength to hold it back so the others could safely attack the beast. Zanath and Kadin were quick to both stab at the creature once more, finishing it off.
When the creature and the snake-tail went limp, Estellese threw the snake to the ground, panting lightly. "Good plan." She said. "That could have gone very, very wrong if we hadn't been following an attack plan."
Mendores nodded. "Yeah. Good work everyone." He said. "Lets get moving though, we don't know how big this place is. And it is likely filled with a lot more monsters." He warned.
The four of them grouped up again and went back into formation, Mendores lead the way taking the turn to the northern pathway. It was another one of those odd doorway-like openings in the cave wall that lead to a room-like area in the cave. In this room stood three skeletons, all armed with bone-clubs.
"Alright, Kadin and Zanath, you two take the one on the left. Me and Estellese will each take our own and-" Mendores started to say, before Kadin interrupted.
"Its just skeletons, we handled them before. Blitz. No need to be tactical. Rush in and wipe them out." Kadin stated before sprinting at the center skeleton.
"Kadin!" Estellese yelled after him, her tone reflecting her annoyance and irritation with the man.
"He does have a point." Mendores said. "Doesn't make him right, of course, but he does have a point. These don't look lethal, let him do his own thing. Estellese, you take the left, I'll tag-team the right with Zanath. This should be easy."
Kadin ran at his skeleton and swung his sword for its head. However, the skeleton didn't particularly care about the sword and swung its bone-club at Kadin's ribs. Kadin's sword struck the skeleton in the head, and the skeleton struck him in the ribs. Both of them were knocked to the ground and Kadin let out a grunt of pain. He was bruised and hurt, but the skeleton was unharmed. They both started standing up, but as soon as Kadin got on his hands and knees he sprung off the ground and tackled the skeleton.
Meanwhile, Zanath and Mendores rushed at the other skeleton. As they approached it it moved in to take a swing for Mendores's torso. Mendores dropped into a slide to dodge the attack, like a baseball player sliding into home plate, and he slid right into the skeleton's legs to knock the creature off its feet. Zanath followed up with a quick stomp to the skeleton's upper spine to pin it to the ground while the two of them quickly got to work breaking it into pieces.
Estellese walked towards her skeleton, as the creature stepped forwards and took a swing at her head with its own bone-club she raised her arm and blocked the club with the side of her fore-arm, wincing in pain as the bone left a nasty bruise. She immediately twisted her blocking arm around to grab the skeleton's arm, then she yanked the skeleton towards herself, while leaning back and throwing a powerful kick at the creature's chest. With her yanking it towards herself, and kicking it back at the same time she tore its arm right out of the socket and knocked the skeleton back onto the floor. The skeleton quickly tried to stand, but Estellese was quick to jump ontop of it, almost the second it hit the floor, and start slamming its own bone-club into its joints. Snapping and shattering each of its joints in its shoulders and legs. She was not in a good mood right now, Kadin was irritating the hell out of her, and she did not feel like dealing with skeletons. When she was finished she looked up to see that Mendores and Zanath were also done, and that Kadin had his pinned and was breaking away at the joints just now. Once he was finished, Kadin stood up and looked around at the others.
"All clear?" Mendores asked, not expecting an answer since it was obvious. "Lets move." He said as he took the lead again, letting everyone get into formation while he followed the path to the north. He went through another doorway-like opening on the north side of the cave to find himself in an empty room, the stalagmites and stalactites in this room were all over the place, and there was a ton of them. Even some sticking horizontally out of the walls like spikes which shouldn't have been possible. But with nothing of interest in this room Mendores moved on and lead the group deeper into the cave. There was only one way to go again, which was west through another door.
As they walked into the west room they spotted a treasure chest up on an incline ahead of them. Although next to it was another one of those beasts from the hallway. The snake-tail of the part lion, part ram, part snake creature hissed loudly and the creature right away jumped down at the four of them. Lunging from the top of the incline straight for Mendores.
Then, there was suddenly the loud sound of a crack, followed by a loud booming sound and a bright flash of light. When the flash of light faded away the group looked up to see a bolt of lightning striking the hybrid creature out of the air. Mendores, Kadin, and Estellese looked back, tracing the bolt of lightning to where it came from. Following its path to Zanath, who was pointing at the creature with two of his fingers.
The hybrid creature slammed into the ground, and before it could recover from the landing or being electrocuted Kadin stabbed his sword down at it's head, killing it.
Everyone looked at Zanath for a moment. "Sorry. Didn't feel like dealing with another one. It jumped, and it can't dodge in mid-air so I figured I'd just zap it." Zanath replied simply. However as he spoke, the "bolt" scroll that he held in his free hand suddenly turned to ash, and he watched the ashes slowly flutter to the ground like black snow. "Oh... I guess the scrolls are just one-time use." He thought out loud.
"No, that was good Zanath. Those things give us enough trouble, we don't want more of them if they can be avoided." Mendores said. "And now we know not to waste these scrolls. That must be the difference between the scrolls and your book Estell. Scrolls are one time use, but your book teaches you how to use the spell on your own so you can use it whenever." He said. "Not sure if that's true, but it seems like that is the case." He added. Although when he finished speaking he realized that Kadin was missing. "Kadin?"
Kadin was already at the top of the incline, had opened the treasure chest, and was poking around at the items inside of it, looking them over as he pulled them out one by one. Hearing his name called he looked down at everyone, tilting his head to the side a little "Hmm?"
"Again Kadin?" Estellese questioned. "You guys go get the treasure, I'm gonna stay down here. It hurts to move, and I don't want to climb up the incline just to have to walk all the way back down. The room looks like a dead end." She said, resting a hand on her broken ribs. "If there is another room up there call down to me and I'll come." She added.
Mendores raised an eyebrow at her comment about Kadin doing something again, he assumed something must have happened between them before him and Zanath arrived at the minotaur. But he nodded a little. "Alright, no problem. Be safe and yell if anything shows up. Even if you can take it down yourself." He said as him and Zanath climbed up the incline to the chest.
"Nothing useful in here." Kadin muttered quietly. He looked over the items he had pulled out of the chest. Five small golden nuggets, three ingots of some sort of metal. A golden chalice that had several gems encrusted on it. The chalice gave off an odd vibe when it was touched, something about it felt strange, like it was full of energy or something. And two rubies, they were round and almost big enough to fit in your palm.
Mendores took the items and added them to Zanath's bag. "Loot is loot. We'll find a use for it." He said, giving a few extra seconds of attention to the odd chalice, before that too was stuffed in the bag. "This seems to be a dead end, so lets head back to the hallway and see where it leads to." He added. He could tell everyone was getting worn down a little, but they had to see this through until the end. Going back up to the city was not safe and neither was stopping to rest here.
Kadin and Zanath nodded a little. "Alright, lets go." Kadin replied before he headed down the incline, with Mendores and Zanath following behind him. Once they regrouped at the entrance of the room Mendores took the lead again and directed everyone to get back into the formation.
The group walked back out into the hallway, then resumed following it to the west for a while until they reached the end of it. The four of them were remaining quiet now, they were all tired from lack of sleep, sore, and exhausted. None of them felt like talking, at this point they just wanted to go home and rest, maybe take a nice warm bath.
At the end of the hall there was a room to the south, so following the only path they could they walked down to that room and found themselves at another crossroads. Again, the path split in all four directions. Mendores lead the way straight ahead, continuing south to find that the room was just an empty room. So they went back to the crossroads and took the west path. Entering another empty room that had a doorway leading south, to another empty room and door leading further south. Mendores was starting to question if there was anything left in this dungeon as he lead the group south into the next room. But as they walked through the doorway and into the room they saw something they wish they hadn't seen.
In the room was a staircase leading downstairs, but in front of it was a massive, fifteen foot tall troll. It carried a huge club that was as big as a human's entire body. The massive beast had skin that was so thick it looked like stone was embedded in its skin in various places throughout its body. Its massive size and incredible strength was matched only by its incredible stupidity. The troll, seeing the four humans grunted and immediately ran after them.
Kadin cussed loudly as he turned and started to run, with the other three following mere seconds after him.
"What do we do? How do we fight that thing!" Estellese yelled.
"It is too big to fit through the door. Just run!" Mendores called back, glancing over his shoulder as they backtracked through the dungeon.
As the troll chased them and neared the door, the beast ducked as if it was going to duck low enough to fit through the door. However, even when ducking the beast was still much bigger then the door and the troll did not stop running. Its leg fit through the door but the rest of the beast slammed face-first into the wall. But the troll was so big, and running so fast, it smashed right through the wall, roaring in pain and shaking its head, but that didn't stop it, it just kept running after them.
"You were saying??" Estellese panickedly questioned. "We need a plan."
"Nothing we have will be able to harm that thing!" Mendores countered.
"Follow me, I know where to go." Kadin spoke up, before he sped up to lead the way.
"You sure?" Mendores questioned.
"I'm sure." Kadin replied as he lead the way, running back through the dungeon paths.
"You know where you are going?" Estellese asked.
"I memorized the layout of the dungeon." Kadin answered.
The troll continued its chase, at every door it passed by it ducked again as if it thought it would fit through the door this time, and every time it slammed face-first into the wall and broke through it, with a surprised grunt of pain.
Kadin lead the way to the long hallway they had ran through, running halfway down the hallway before he turned to take that north side-path, and then he ran up through that path.
"Kadin... Isn't this the path with the chest?" Zanath asked.
"Of course." Kadin replied as he ran through the first room, past the destroyed skeletons. Then lead the way into the second room.
"Wasn't the path with the chest a dead end" Zanath questioned.
"Yes." Kadin replied simply. stopping in the middle of the empty room that was right after the skeletons. There was two ways out of this room, south the way they had come from where the troll was barreling towards them. Or west, the room with a chest that was a dead end.
"Why did you lead us into a dead end!" Estellese shouted at him, spinning around at him with a firey look in her eyes that clearly said she was ready to kill him.
Kadin shrugged. "Dunno." He replied. "Sounded like fun." He looked around at the spiky stalagmites and stalactites on the floor, ceiling, and walls. He had thought they were pretty odd the first time they walked through here. After a moment, they heard another loud crash of the troll slamming through the doorway not far from their room, it was almost here. Kadin turned to Mendores, giving him an expectant look as if waiting for him to do something.
"I am seriously going to kill you!" Estellese shouted at him.
Zanath and Mendores looked around, trying to think of something. And Kadin just kept watching Mendores, waiting. "Thiiink abooout iiiit..." Kadin said slowly.
Mendores looked around the room again, trying to figure something out. After a moment it hit him. "Everyone get into the corner, immediately!"
"What? Why?" Estellese said quickly.
"Just do it." Mendores called out. With another loud smash, the troll slammed its face through the wall above the doorway and crashed into the room, roaring out in frustration.
The four Alphas ran into the back corner of the room. "Huddle close together, grab onto eachother-"
"And kiss your ass goodbye." Kadin interrupted in a joking tone.
Mendores shot him a glare. "And grab onto some part of the cave wall. Hold on tight, keep a hold on anyone you can. Whatever you do make sure you are holding onto something." He finished what he had been about to say before Kadin interrupted.
"If we are huddled this close together one swing will take us all out." Estellese countered. But she did as she was told, grabbing onto part of the jagged wall with one hand and grabbing Mendores with the other. Mendores grabbed onto a stone sticking out of the wall and Kadin. Kadin grabbed onto an indent in the wall and Zanath. Zanath grabbed onto another indent in the wall and Estellese.
The ground shook with every step as the troll ran at them, getting closer and closer. Once it got within reach it raised its club into the air and got ready to slam it down on the four humans. But then mendores let go of Kadin, and grabbed one of his scrolls.
Mendores activated the scroll, and threw it out into the middle of the room. Suddenly the entire room was engulfed with powerful gales, blowing everything in the room all over. It was like a tornado had been unleashed, any rocks, stones, and small boulders that had not been stuck to the floor or walls were picked up and sent flying around the room in a circular motion. The troll, like the rest of the stones, was pushed by the strong winds and stumbled right before it could swing. The winds were so strong that the troll was struggling to stand, it wasn't being lifted off the ground and blown around, but it was being pushed around by the wind, sent stumbling in circles around the room, and couldn't keep its footing.
Mendores quickly grabbed Kadin again as the four humans struggled to hold onto the wall. If any of them let go they would without a doubt be swept up in the windstorm.
"What is the plan?" Estellese shouted out over the sounds of rushing wind. The winds were so strong, and were pulling the four alphas away from the wall. They were all struggling to hold on and not be pulled off into the windstorm, but with her broken ribs holding on was excruciatingly painful. Her eyes were starting to get watery.
"Hold on and hope it works." Mendores replied. "Whatever you do just don't let go."
The troll continued to struggle and stumble, until eventually the winds pushed it to step on a sharp stalagmite on the ground. With a roar of pain the sharp stone stabbed through the troll's foot. The wound on its foot made the troll stumble even more, barely able to stay on its feet as the wind pushed it all over the place. Until eventually, it fell and was swept up in the whirlwind. Flailing about, the troll tried to grab onto something, anything to ground itself again but it was fruitless. It was pushed and thrown around, and around, it eventually veered just a little off course from all of its flailing and slammed into the spiked wall. It was impaled by several stone spikes, and in an instant its body went limp and the ground below it was covered in blood.
The whirlwind continued a little longer, with the four humans barely holding on. When it finally came to a stop the four of them all let go and collapsed to the ground. They were all panting lightly for a moment. "We killed it..." Mendores panted out. "Take a moment to relax, we are safe."
Estellese quickly wiped a few tears from her eyes, and took a deep breath, cringing in pain. Even breathing was starting to hurt very badly now. She considered asking for a potion, but shook her head. No, they needed those potions. She recollected herself and went back to acting as if she was unharmed. "No thanks to Kadin." Estellese argued. "Can we kill him now? I'll gladly-"
"Hey." Kadin interrupted. "I said I know where to go. I said nothing about getting us away from big and ugly. Plus, we lived, so clearly I did the right thing."
Estellese sat up and clenched a fist, giving him a death glare. But Mendores spoke up. "Let it go Estell. We need him." Mendores stood up and brushed himself off, then held out a hand to help the others up. "Now that we caught our breath, lets get moving. I saw stairs leading down behind the troll, that probably goes deeper into the dungeon. But there is one path we didn't check on this floor so lets check that first and then go down the stairs." He said.
"Sounds like a plan." Zanath said, taking Mendores's hand and pulling himself onto his feet.
Estellese also grabbed Mendores's hand and pulled herself up. "Alright.... Side path it is." She said in a rather irritated tone while Kadin got up on his own.
"Formation everyone." Mendores said, before leading the way back to the second crossroads, the one right before the troll. He lead the way to the east this time, the one way they hadn't gone. They walked into the first room, which only had one door leading east, so they walked into the second room which also only had one door, going south this time. The four of them were on edge, expecting an attack at any second, but none came. Walking south into the third room they found another treasure chest, in an empty dead-end room.
"Careful, could be a trap." Zanath said. However by the time he said it Kadin was already standing in front of the chest with his hands on it ready to open it. "Or not, go ahead."
Everyone stood back as Kadin opened the chest, and when nothing happened the rest of the group walked over to the chest to see its contents. He pulled out three more ingots of the same metal as the previous ones. An axe that seemed kinda heavy, and a small cloth bag that like the chalice they found earlier gave off this weird vibe, as if it was radiating energy. Muttering quietly to himself about the chest having more junk he put the ingots into the cloth bag, and was surprised to realize that the bag only got a little bit heavier, and that the ingots took up almost no space. Puzzled, he looked inside to see that the ingots had shrunken to be about one fourth of the size they had been. He reached in and took the ingots out only to see that they were still normal-sized once out of the bag. "Huh..." He mused.
"Well, that'll be useful." Mendores said as he took the bag and ingots from Kadin, then put the ingots back in the bag. "Zanath pass me all the loot we put in your bag. Anything we don't need to use is going to go in here." He said. Zanath quickly passed him the rubies, ingots, and gold nuggets so Mendores could keep them in the magic bag. Then Mendores handed the axe to Estellese. "This is good guys, we are getting our feet on the ground. We are getting armed. Lets keep exploring the dungeon, when we get out maybe we'll be well armed enough to have a better chance of survival out there. Lets go." He instructed as he slung the bag over his shoulder.
The group nodded, they may be exhausted but their morale was a little higher at least. They went back into formation and followed Mendores back to where the troll had been. They looked down the stairs and the room below seemed to be clear, so they cautiously walked down the stairs to the next floor. They found themselves in another empty room, this one had a door leading to the north.
Once everyone had reached the bottom of the stairs, the group walked north into the next room. "You've got to be kidding me..." Kadin murmured in a quiet voice. As they walked into the room the natives of the room came into sight. Three of those lion, ram, snake hybrid creatures they had run into before. The beasts turned to see the humans as they walked in, the three of them began to growl quietly and slowly walked towards the group, ready to fight or chase if needed.
Next Chapter: Diving Deeper