Randidly’s fingers flexed, and half the group behind them were speared with dozens of roots, aiming for hamstrings and vital organs. When several of the roots rebounded off the bloody, resilient bodies of the cats, Randidly frowned. But it was a 50% thing, so each cat was still speared at least partially, lowering its mobility. This wave of spellcasting seemed to finally hit home to the cats what sort of threat had arrived, and the survivors launched themselves into a dead sprint toward the group.
Annie’s arrows knocked down one, and killed another, while Randidly used Incendiary Bolts to similarly incapacitate another two. Now that they were close enough, Clarissa used ice spells, and Chain Lightning, lowering the health of the remainder a lot, and then Chrysanthemum arrived, knocking the shocked survivors aside so Thea could crush their skulls with her hammer.
Satisfied here, Randidly turned to watch the progress against the other 7 cats. It seemed that Lucifer used a strange fighting style, where he took advantage of the weight of his huge cleaver to throw himself around, in great swinging strikes. That left him full of holes to exploit, but the damage he could deal with an attack was no joke. And based on the fact that he had already bisected one cat, and was cornering another, the holes in his stance weren’t as large as advertised.
Randidly had the confidence that he would have an advantage over the other man in a fight, but he certainly didn’t want to mess with how much momentum Lucifer created with his wild swings. He could likely slice a car in half without even slowing down.
Unfortunately for him, the cats seemed much more difficult an opponent than a car, and after they had realized he was deceptively quick, they kept back around him, going in for attacks on his flank. Immediately, Lucifer switched his strategy, no longer attempting to attack with his actual blade, but-
“Some sort of… wind addition to his attacks?” Rose said, frowning down at her notes, just as one of the cats lost a leg, even though it had hopped lightly out of Lucifer’s striking radius. A huge scar on the ground was evidence of the efficacy of the attack, although when Randidly squinted, he could see that it was only perhaps another sword length’s worth of damage.
Still, if you didn’t expect that extra length, with a sword like that…
Alana had calmly dispatched two cats and moved to assist Lucifer. Together, the clobbered the remainder, while Ace hung back, looking bored.
Very quickly, all the cats were dead. Randidly was annoyed.
He checked his experience bar and found that it was at 90%, so that was something. But still, he had waited so long to receive levels, and now… and now he had the pleasure of grinding, he supposed. Even so, this seemed like a ridiculously slow way to level, since he had killed these high-level cats. Was it based on how much you contributed? Because then-
‘No,’ Lucretia whispered, ‘It’s based on your relative level in the party. Basically, all the experience flows to the party, and then you get a share, based on how many levels you add to the party. So you got… approximately 1/400th of the experience, because you are only level 1. It keeps the high-level people from helping out the low levelers too much in a party. Plus-’
“These cats were pretty weak for something that is Level 47,” Ace said, his face sour as he walked over towards one of the corpses. Clarissa nodded.
“Experience isn’t bad, for what they are. Pretty quick kills,” Alana remarked, cleaning blood off of her spear. Lucifer grunted.
Randidly shook his head. What complicated matters was that when he tried to leave the party, he received a notification stating that changing parties was impossible while in the Raid Dungeon. So he was effectively stuck with the nerfed experience gain currently.
Wonderful. It made him wish he hadn’t disdained the thought of hunting a little before coming into the dungeon.
As several people began to inspect the corpses more closely, looking for anything worth harvesting, Randidly turned to Rose. “So, what now? I’ve… never been in a dungeon before. Well, not any… normal dungeons. What do we do?”
Rose shrugged. “Everyone look around a bit. Normally, there is just a single path forward, but since this is a bit special…. And with all this space… there is probably a clue-”
“This alter says we need the Key of Death to clear the Dungeon,” Annie interrupted. Most of the group looked up to gaze at her. She was standing back towards the center of the large cathedral, at a dilapidated silver alter. But in the center of the altar, there was a large hole, a slot for a key.
After tapping her lip, Annie simply reached out and touched the altar, and a notification popped up in front of them all.
Welcome to the Zone 33 Raid Dungeon! Current Clear Record: N/A. This Raid Dungeon is considered cleared when the Key of Death is brought to the Fallen Altar, unlocking the Door of Life, allowing you to return to your world! Rewards will be given for exemplary clear times.
“How informative,” Annie remarked, turning away and peering at some of the giant columns around them. Randidly sighed. Certainly, he shared her reservations about their goal. It was easy to understand, which was nice, but on the other hand… any sort of hint about how to accomplish it would have been appreciated.
But he supposed that’s why rewards were given for exemplary times. Because getting a good time was difficult. Randidly also wondered what exactly would qualify for exemplary-
Hissing, Randidly spun. “We’ve got company.”
Several groups of cats descended from the upper levels, around 3 groups of 20. And then another dozen dropped right down, to the area where Rose, Ptolemy, and Clarissa were standing, in no discernable formation.
Of course, Randidly was there too.
“Plant Dominance,” Randidly whispered, his eyes glowing a poisonous green color. Thorny vines and gnarled roots erupted out of the ground before the cats could even catch their balance, ripping into the weak undersides of them, knocking those too close to the spellcasters away from them. Then, with a few Wall of Thorns, Randidly isolated the cats and allowed his team to gather.
“Oh, so they were the numerous type of enemies,” Ace said, extremely unhelpfully, cracking his knuckles against the shoulder of a cat and sending it sprawling into its compatriot. “Perfect warm up.”
Truthfully, the team was ripping through the cats where they encountered them, or at least Alana, Lucifer, Ace, Thea, Chrysanthemum, and even Drwaswere. However, although Ptolemy had some basic hand to hand combat, these cats were fast, and had sharp enough claws to damage Donnyton quality armor after a few swipes. It was best not expose them too much.
Meanwhile, Rose seemed to be effectively useless, and Clarissa…
Well, if Clarissa was too directly threatened, Mrs. Hamilton had informed Randidly that Clarissa had a bad habit of forgetting her teammates, and spraying large AOE spells like Frost Nova and Chain Lightning everywhere. Receiving damage from teammates, especially magic damage, was not high on Randidly’s to do list.
Randidly looked around, but couldn't find her. But arrows were rapidly sprouting from cats, causing them to shudder and expire, so… she was probably fine.
Time to experiment, then. “Call Grove Defenders: Strength!”
Even the frontline fighters paused in their slow reforming into a formation, as a low, dull sound seemed to emerge from Randidly’s chest, like the deep bellow of an ancient ivory horn. The cats even stopped, confused, giving everyone time to move into a tighters shape, to protect the spellcaster. Then the ground directly behind Randidly rumbled, and a green hand pushed itself out of the ground.
After a few seconds of struggle, that hand managed to wriggle itself, revealing a huge, green-black forearm, with several small leaves growing out of the furr. A meter away, another, similar hand poked up, and then a third.
It was about this time that the cats realized that whatever was coming wasn’t their friend, and resumed there attack. But for now, the lines were separated, allowing the spellcasters to do their work.
“Chain Lightning! Blast Spark! Chain Lightning!” Randidly made a mental note not to stand near a blast spark, which appeared to simply be an electric grenade that Clarissa could through. She paused in her casting and drank a blue potion.
“Arcane Orb!” Ptolemy yelled, and Randidly assisted with a few Incinerating Bolts, but then he heard an angry bellow behind him and turned to look at the source.
Behind Randidly were standing three apes, their chest, shoulders, and arms thick with muscle. However, they were only a meter tall, but about that wide as well. Their square bodies made them slightly amusing, as they pounded their chest and pointed at the cats in fury. Then, at the same time, the three seemed to see Randidly, and instantly their eyes lit up.
The one in the center, which Randidly assumed was the leader swaggered forward and sniffed Randidly’s ass.
Shaking his head, Randidly turned away. God save him from eccentric pets. Hopefully, the size was related to his low Skill level, and not a permanent thing...
Then he gave the order, and those bundles of muscle threw themselves forward, screeching with fury.