Chapter 42

Chapter 42

Journal entry: 53


 

A monster fell into the Sanctuary this morning. Even after the floor magics were done with it, Grant's absolutely sure something hit it with a fire-ball. So, a magic spell- and a reasonably powerful one at that.

It looks like it's a Giant Bat, or was a Giant Bat.

The thing landed only a few feet from where we've made camp, scared Grant so bad he actually sparked a bit of lightning into the air. His hair is all frizzed up, almost like one of the Noble Aristocrats of the Mainland cities.

For some reason, he didn't like that comparison very much when I told him.

Still: [Fireball]

That's a rare type of magic for monsters to have. Human mages have been known to pursue it, but even among those it would be uncommon to find someone with enough strength to kill a Higher-rank monster like a Giant Bat outright. A creature possessing that sort of magic talent would be an extremely unique find.

Grant is optimistic that it came from much higher in the Dungeon, noting the massive crack that runs along the ceiling. Those run at least thousand feet up, and he's starting to think it might open back up to one of the early Dungeon levels. Maybe even the surface itself.

No way to find out for certain, but it's a seriously compelling thought. If someone found where it opened, now that the floor is cleared as a Sanctuary Adventurers might one day be able to set up a pulley system, and bypass some of the the most dangerous levels of the Dungeon. If not the Guilds, then certainly the Empire: the profits of such a venture would out-weigh the risks.

Still, these are the kind of passing thought that would make Grant say "Talia: Quit your day-dreaming."

Truth be told, he already says that on a regular basis.

Personally, I think he's the one who has really been day-dreaming. That bag of crystal on his hip is enough for a small house in countryside. He's probably plotting out the whole thing in his head.

Meanwhile, I've been watching the ceiling and walls a bit more closely since the Bat, not just in the sense of day-dreams.

A Dungeon Sanctuary is supposed to be a safe zone, but those Magics only work on the ancient runes- so the air or the walls aren't going to be effected.

Usually, that's not an issue. In fact- the subject is not something I've ever had to take into consideration since I first started Adventuring The Upper zones are more-or-less commercialized. There are only so many enterances for people looking to descend any actual distance, so Merchants and Smithing companies typically have booths set up by Adventure Guild permissions. The Empire takes claim over the Sancuaries on some form of rolling bounty from whomever it was that originally cleared it, expanding and paying for further ventures if conditions look promising, but most of those payments go towards the larger operating Guilds. Even the sanctuarys located deeper have at least some permanent presence of Empire guards, supply lines, and at least one inn-structure that people can use to rest some-what safely.

Not this one though.

We're absolutely the first Adventurers to make it this far. There are no supply-chains and mapped paths. There's no smith for equipment, Empire Guards, traders- and there's certainly no inn to stay at. With one hundred percent confidence, I know we're the very first people to make it this far and defeat the Floor's Guardian.

This is a feat that trumps almost any other accomplishment (short of coming back with a cart full of ancient weapons, or magic artifacts) and Grant's absolutely right about what he said. If we can get back to the upper levels alive to prove all this, we're going to be put in the books and handed some fat-sacks of gold.

But that's a big "if."

I wonder how we'll manage that.

It's a long way back to the surface. A really long way, and neither Grant and I have a single clue how to get there. This deep in the dungeon, there are some serious dangers for a full-team of people. With Just Grant and myself, it's not going to be a walk in the park.

For now though, smoked bat-meat with a side of moldy bread beats starving to death.

Journal entry: 54

Another bat landed. Scorched and unmistakably dead on arrival, just like the last time. One is a coincidence, but two is a trend. Grant thinks that the Giant Bats must be having some sort of territory dispute with another monster way above us.

I'm not so sure.

Grant and I roasted it a bit extra with his fire-magic regardless.

Just to be safe, I cast purify on the meat before we ate it. You can never really know for certain if something is dangerous in a dungeon, but when in doubt, it's safe to assume it might be capable of killing you. After all we've been through, dysentery would be an embarrassing way to go.

Once we were done eating, Grant and I spent the whole day trying to retrace our steps back out the way we came in.

I've marked the walls and floors with runes as we go, but already I think this is going to be next to impossible.

Honestly, I don't understand how we managed to get down to this floor alive. Four turns in, and we ran into the largest Tar-Spider next I've ever seen. It was easily as tall as Grant, give or take an extra foot.

We had to retreat, and Grant cast more than his fair share of fire on them, so we survived. Now though, the whole tunnel system is basically a complete disaster. Smoke, at least two caved-in sections, displaced spiders that are likely going to be starving soon- or drawing in other predators.

We're not dead, but I think we might have just trapped ourselves today. Coming back to the Sancuary was demoralizing. We smelled like cinders, looked and felt like something the cat dragged in, and our plan was shot. Even after searching the entire Ancient-Hall that leads to the cleared safe-zone, there was only one tunnel system.

One tunnel system, and we set the whole thing on fire.

Grant summoned his magics to pull water reserves from the Storage-stone in his bag, refilling our canteens with a grin, but I think this one hit him hard. He's blaming himself for this mess, and we both know we're running dangerously low on supplies.

I tried to reassure him that he made the right call. After which, he made some lame joke about us hitching up with a wedding after all this blows over, then he rolled up his cloak and went to sleep early.

With all that happened today, I couldn't sleep though. Not at all. I stayed awake, watching the ceiling and the walls as Grant's little mana-bonfire died out over the next few hours.

The Dungeon is a special place. Even in the upper levels, I'd say there's a fierce beauty to the landscape, but the father down you go- the stranger it gets.

Truly though, this Sanctuary is really a marvel of its very own.

Almost like a night sky, the whole ceiling is like a dome: a cracked egg, filled with glowing blue. Deadly but beautiful fungi, maybe even a few growing mana crystals hidden among the mix, all waiting before the gargantuan fissure in the roof leading upwards to the unknown heights.

Laying there, I let my eyes soak in the scene. I stared so long I felt the flow of colors trace when I moved, almost ready to roll over and let sleep take me: but that's when I saw it.

A quiet moving glow of blue, like the mushrooms, but deeper. A more intense color that seemed to blink in and out of existence along the far wall.

The same blue I remember after the Giant Skeleton was slain.

Watching from the floor, I tried my best not to move. Only my eyes followed it, as it slid out along the walls, just barely rising from some hidden ledge in the stone.

A monster, but not like any I've ever seen.

It's like a Basilisk, but much too small, and with scales of crystal instead of black or green. Unlike any I've ever seen: it's a beautiful and poisonous blue. The creature seems to watch us for a time, before sliding out further, striking with an oddly clumsy motion to snatch a mushroom from the wall beside it.

It repeated that several times. A monster that eats poison deadly enough to kill a whole group of adventurers, I'm not sure whether to be amazed or horrified at what the deep Dungeon has to show me, but it's what came next that really stood out.

A Giant Bat flew down, terrifying in speed as it soared through the open fissure of the domed ceiling. It seemed to circle as I watched it, and my hand felt for my mace as it came in closer.

Then there was a roaring flash, followed by a heavy burst of flame, and the Giant Bat landed on the distant Floor, scorched and smoking without so much time as to let out a shriek.

As Grant awoke with a panic, staff fumbling and rolling on the floor as he chased after it shouting in a confused state of mind, I watched as the crystal serpent stared down at us from the balcony for the briefest of seconds, before disappearing back into the stone.

One time... that might be coincidence. Two times, and that might be a trend, but three?

I think that monster is helping us.