Solo Is Much Easier
Sven called the students over and started to introduce them to me. The names flew past me without really sticking. I realized at that moment all those things about not being good in crowds I intended to be just an excuse so no one would look for me if I left suddenly. Now I am realizing that I might actually have a problem with crowds. I guess I have some trust issues after being killed and living alone for a while. I smile and nod and when all of the introductions are done I go ahead and give them an overview of the dungeon.
“Hi everyone, as Sven said my name is Mark and I have been in the Fire Caves dungeon several times over the last week or two. There are some easy things to remember that will help you out. First, there are only two types of dungeon monster in the entire dungeon until you get to the end boss. Fire Bats and Fire Salamanders. Depending on the cave they will range between level 70 to level 85. I have never run into a group larger than 15 or smaller than 6 so keep that in mind.”
“The monsters are tied to their caves until attacked or until you enter and are noticed. If you sneak into a cave and nothing spots you, nothing will happen. You can skip areas this way, but there is not much of a point to that. Both the Fire Bats and the Fire Salamanders are weak against their opposing element which is water/ice. If you have spells, enchantments, or weapons that use this element keep in mind that they will be more powerful than you are used too.”
“The Fire Bats are very communal and attacking one means that all of the others will swarm and attack. I have been doing the dungeon solo so I do not know if they will attack just the person that did the damage or the whole group.”
At the announcement that I was soloing a dungeon they had come to gain experience in as a group I could see several eyes go wide. However, there were a few who seemed to glare at me. Was this the obligatory hate for showing them up at a school trope? I hope that this will be more like real life and will not have as many weird school fights or problems.
“Salamanders on the other hand you can separate and deal with individually if they are far enough apart from each other. There were even a couple of times I was able to keep myself hidden and did some long distance damage that resulted in two or more salamanders fighting each other which made finishing them off much easier.”
“Finally the dungeon boss is a Fire Drake. This guy is a little trickier to deal with. His scales make ordinary attacks pretty useless. However, if you have a spell or weapon that can break open his scales he is pretty easy to beat after that. Once the scale defense is broken through all that is left is to continue concentrating damage on the area that was compromised while not getting killed.”
“If teacher Sven is alright with it I will lead you in to the dungeon and demonstrate my method of clearing each room before setting you loose. I suggest that you think about how you can deal similar amounts of damage and then implement that strategy. I doubt many if any of you will be able to do what I do.”
Wow that sounded kind of arrogant, but I could see Sven nodding his head. I turned around and started for the entrance to the dungeon. I could hear some muttering behind me, but I had already made the statement and would not apologize now. When we reached the dungeon entrance I turned around and addressed them one more time.
“First we will go down a long corridor which will lead to the first cavern which should be filled with Fire Bats. It has been for the past eight times I have done this dungeon. When we get close I will raise my hand and I need you to be silent so we do not attract the bats attention before I am ready to deal with them. Are there any questions?”
One of the students spoke up, “You are going to clear the first cavern all by yourself, without any help?”
I could see some of the students look incredulous. Sort of like what is this guy thinking, that he is superman, or whatever fantasy guy equivalent there was on Planet Braxis. Others looked thoughtful, and a couple just had a blank look in their eyes. Oh well, time to show off. I headed down the corridor and after several meters held up my hand to ask for silence. I then called up a scattershot of ice for each hand without chanting, which from the sound of the murmuring behind me impressed several people. Over the last week I had maxed out this spell and was close to maxing out landmine.
One direct shot from a scattershot is now overkill on a bat. That extra damage per shot adds up really quick. I peer into the cavern and see several fire bats fluttering around, but there are too many of them. I get a quick count. There are 24 bats, why are there 24 bats? There should not be any more than 15. I am pretty sure that I can still take them down, and my pride says I will have to try, but why are they there. Could it be that the dungeon scales itself to the number of people that come in it? That must be it. Stupid teacher Sven had to know this. I bet he is expecting me to ask for help now.
This is probably supposed to teach me some kind of lesson, but all it did was tick me off and reaffirm my belief that the only person I could trust is myself. Let’s do this. I start launching scattershots from each hand as quick as I can form them. I manage to get off seven of the spell and knock down 14 of the fire bats before the others start their dive at me. I have gotten quicker with that spell as it leveled up. I call up two more scattershot spells and just before I get hit I blink behind the diving fire bats and loose the two scattershot spells at their backs forcing them into the ground. The bats had all bunched up while diving allowing my scattershots to hit all of them. I quickly called out my Hammer of smiting and with it in my left and an improved ice spike and arm scythe on my left I waded in and made short work of the bats I had just grounded.
I needed to take care of them first as I was not sure I hit them hard enough to keep them on the ground. However, after a few hammer strikes, and improved ice spike, or some quick cuts with the scythe they were down for the count. I called out to the waiting group of students and Sven behind me, “You can come in now while I clean up.” I proceeded to go around and finish off the rest of the bats, and then started to open them up to get the cores.
“Normally I would suggest splitting the cores between all members of a group, but seeing as how I cleared this cavern by myself I will keep all the cores. I will only fight in the future if needed so I won’t be taking any others unless called in to help a group out. As you can see the number of bats is above what I told you. I suspect that the dungeon has increased the number of each monster because of the size of our group. I did not know this would happen, but I suspect teacher Sven did.”
As I said this I could see a guilty look fleetingly cross his face. I wonder if he thought he would make a better impression on me if he had to rescue me. I don’t know his reasons or care, but I realize I can only trust him so far now. I am glad I learned this now instead of later when it really could have done some damage.
“There are 14 of you so I suggest breaking up into groups of seven and then teacher Sven can follow one group, and I can follow another. It does not matter which exit you take from each cavern. One will lead to more bats and one will lead to salamanders. I have never found a pattern. After enough time or caverns are cleared you will come to a cavern that has three exits. I suggest whichever group gets there first stops and waits for the other group, as one of the exits leads to the Fire Drake. Once the whole group is back together you can tackle the dungeon boss and collect the rewards.”
I look over at Sven and he flinches just a little and then speaks up, “This is excellent advice. Sort yourselves into groups and we will follow Mark’s suggestion.”
A couple of minutes go by as the students sort themselves out. Before we leave I ask out loud, “How many in my group can use spells?”
Three people raise their hands.
“Can you please give me a brief over view of what you cast or at least your elements.”
“Excellent, I assume you four are either close combat or ranged attackers. Can you please tell me which?”
Two spoke up and said they were close combat, one was an archer, and one was what I would call a rogue, but they called a scout and was proficient in both.
“Excellent, then I suggest we try you two in the front as primary damage dealers, you two as ranged damage, and you two with offensive spells. The gentleman healer will be on standby in case of need. Please try not to need the healer. Remember it is better to dodge than to get hit and healed. Let’s go.”
With those words of wisdom, I led my group off to the right hand tunnel and entered without even looking back. After a corridor of travel I peeked in and saw salamanders. I backed up and signaled everybody to step back so we could talk.
“Ok, the next cavern is salamanders. I want the scout to go forward and do his job. When you see a salamander break off from the group signal the others and then the spell casters fire off one spell to draw it near. Then the ranged damage dealers, and finally the close attack fighters. If you keep calm, there should be no problem.”
They all nodded their heads and the scout took off. After about 3 minutes he signaled those that were waiting and they went forward and executed what I had suggested perfectly. Maybe there is something to this academy thing after all. They can at least follow orders. I praised them and said continue. Everything was going according to plan and 12 of the 17 salamanders were killed when the next one was hit by spells when it was too close the remaining salamanders. Every one of the five remaining salamanders charged the group.
They were starting to panic. I guess they do good in set scenarios with plans, but not so good in real life decision making ones.
“Don’t panic. Spell users and ranged damage try and take down the front left and I will take down the front right. Those two will block the progress of the others and then you all can fight them fairly.”
It happened just as I said. They were able to kill the charging left salamander before it got within 10 meters and mine was killed much quicker. Now that they had a plan and it showed it could work the teamwork and camaraderie of the group started to shine through. One of the fighters started to take charge and called out orders to the others. Soon enough the remaining three salamanders were dead and we had only one light casualty for the entire battle.
I praised them once again and said they could have all the cores since they did so well. I could see them smile at that. I guess I just made some friends, or better yet some allies. I don’t need friends, though I do need people I can call on if needed. We continued on and the group just got better and better in their coordination. The fighter leader guy, a beast man of the wolf variety named Alvin I finally learned after hearing it shouted many times in battle, started showing some real potential. The others all worked well together. Soon enough three hours had passed and we had reached the cave of three exits.
I realized that the clearing time with companions was slightly faster than my solo times, but much more aggravating in having to talk and guide people. Soon enough, my group cleared out the final cavern and made a temporary camp to wait for Sven’s group. They were in high spirits because they had beat the other group in arriving to the final cavern. We will see how they fare against the dungeon boss in a little bit.