The next series of rounds were absolutely brutal for me. Variations of groupings of ratmen being led by weasels really tested the teamwork between Inkler and me. The weasels would order the ratmen around, using them for cover for their attacks. Inkler would do his best to interrupt the weasel’s attack and retreat patterns, but the slippery creatures were hard to pin down. The dungeon again changed things up for the boss battle, just when Inkler and I were getting into a groove. This time it was a massive minotaur with several ratmen attendants. Luckily the minotaur didn’t have any weapons, and only used charging attacks. They were easily avoided, and Inkler even managed to get the minotaur to trample one of the ratmen. Loot was disappointing, a few pelts and a horn from the minotaur. At least I managed to jump up from level 21 to level 33 afterwards.
“What the hell?!” I cried out, as the newest level came with a massive tremor in the arena. Inkler had spread his feet out and had his tail straight into the air, as I stumbled down onto a knee. Several rocky pillars of varying heights shot up, the shortest one being ten feet tall while the highest was roughly five times that. Crawling around on the columns were lizards. Well, the dungeon equivalent of lizards. They had independent eyes and pebbled skin like a chameleon, but lacked the color changing. I was rather amazed that something the size of a saint Bernard could climb the walls so easily.
Divine Necrotail Gecko
An odd evolution, the necrotail gecko has no natural predators thanks to its tail. The first third is living, as well as the skin that encompasses it. The rest is sealed off by a thick layer of fat and kerotin, and the resultant tail is left to rot.
“Don’t bite the tail Inkler, it’s poison.” I warned, and proceeded to start picking off the monsters from the walls. They would fall and splatter, tail releasing a noxious cloud that would kill the lizard as well as ruin any of the meat that the system was offering as loot. I kept it, but put it off into a separate area of my inventory. Paranoia? Probably, but it’s not paranoia if you are right.
“These things are a not what I expected in a higher level dungeon.” I mentioned to Inkler as we were on the fourth level of lizards. Of course, a screech of anger from a new enemy on level 35 had me cursing my big mouth. Looking up, flashes of light made it hard to track the creature fluttering above me. I lurched to the side as I saw a flare of mana, luckily for me as several metal feathers pierced the sand right where I was just standing. Finally getting a nice look at the creature, I got an identification.
Divine Stymphalian Harpy
Evolved from the stymphalian birds of legend, these harpy’s are the things of nightmare. Their steel feathers allow for both attack and defense, while they can use powerful screeches to disorient their foes. Razor sharp talons defend it should you be foolish enough to enter melee range.
“Wonderful. Mixing myths. Well, Hercules shot ‘em down, why can’t I?” I muttered, taking aim and firing. With a single flap, it avoided my bolt and retaliated with a discordant screech. My vision wavered, and I took several metal feathers before I knew what was happening. “Ah, these bastards hurt!” I screamed, pulling them out and receiving a bleeding debuff. I stumbled around one of the pillars to break line of sight and hopefully avoid another volley of feathers.
“Damn, these feathers are a real pain.” I muttered once I had everything back under control. It seems that the disorientation only lasts for a few seconds, but that could be more than enough to turn a fight. I immediately prepared to fight when a few pebbles dropped down onto my head, only to find Inkler looking at me from the top of the pillar he had climbed. “Alright bud, I’ll distract her while you get around and take her down. Just mind the feathers, okay?” He chuffed at me before moving to start jumping between pillars.
“Alright you feathered hussy, let’s see what you can do to someone who is ready for your tricks!” I shouted as I ran around the pillar. The harpy stopped circling her pillar, immediately targeting me with another scream. I was able to dodge the majority of it, as she was telegraphing her attack with a massive inhale. Instead of blurred vision, I only had a fraction of a second’s worth of tinnitus and dizziness. This time I was able to parry three of the four feathers she shot, and smiled as I retaliated. “[Dark bolt][Lance of light][Light bolt].” The three spells were evenly spaced, and came far closer to hitting than the arbalest bolt.
Before the harpy could retaliate, Inkler appeared on the pillar above her. She was just outside of his reach, much to his frustration. “[Oblivion sphere].” I launched this one while not actually targeting her, instead aiming just below her left wing. Predictably, she dodged upwards and to the right, allowing Inkler to hook a paw under her chin.
“Kreeeeee!” She shrieked in panic, to no avail. Inkler’s attack had tilted her head so the sonic blast struck nobody. She flailed at him, but her arms couldn’t reach above her head and she wasn’t flexible enough to get her talons into positon. While he held her down, I blasted her with another series of spells, causing massive damage.
“Looks like the harpies are glass cannons.” I said as I walked over to where her body had fallen. Inkler remained on his perch, cleaning his paws. “Good idea bud, just be ready to be attacked if they spawn near you.” I called out to him as I looted the body. I got five steel feathers as well as a harpy wing. I guess harpies are edible, I wonder how close they taste to chicken.
The next series of levels were just another grind at this point. Increasing the number of harpies with a few geckos thrown in for variety. It wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle, though at some point I learned that the harpy screech had an almost exponential growth when multiple monsters were shrieking at you. I actually had to down one of the full health potions at that point, as three of the creatures decided to turn me into a steel feathered pincushion. The boss level was a Harpy Matriarch and her ten harpy brood. There were enough harpies that I ended up using stone manipulation to create a netting of overhead stone branches for cover.
“I hate birds. Any bird type monster.” I muttered to Inkler after the battle with the matriarch was over. “Here, you earned this.” I said, giving him one of the harpy wings. He batted and threw it around for a bit before digging in, giving me a much needed chuckle. “Hello, what’s this?” I asked myself, as I pulled up the loot for the matriarch. It seems the dungeon was finally going to start handing out items.
Eye of the Matriarch
The keen sight of the Harpy Matriarch has been imbued into this necklace.
Telescopic sight: Vision can be zoomed in, up to 10x zoom.
Not a bad item for a scout, but it was lacking when compared to the gear that I already had. I was grateful for the number of higher level enemies through these rounds, as they really boosted my level. Inkler and I both jumped from 33 at dungeon level 30 to 43 at dungeon level 40. Once the looting and pop ups were taken care of, I used a few of the lesser recovery potions I had in my inventory and started level 41.
Underdark Abyss Hunter
One of the true horrors of the Underdark, the Abyssal society consists of two tiers. Abyssals and food. Their only dilemma is whether to eat you raw or roasted with a fireball.
The Abyssal looked like some horror from the deep sea. It had lean muscles highlighted with spots of bioluminescence. The folds in its abdomen meant it could overstuff itself with whatever it was eating, and the wide mouth with plenty of needle like teeth would help with that. From its back arched a limb with a glowing orb on the end, much like an anglerfish. It resembled a velociraptor in bodily shape, one with several sets of eyes. One set was large, nearly twice the size of a humans with an enormous pupil for low light vision. One glowed to my [Mystic vision], so it probably had some form of vision in the magical spectra as well. The main limbs had a line of yellow luminous bulbs on them, that would flash at random intervals. The rest of the creature was covered in swirling patterns of blue that appeared to swirl around in a distracting pattern. On the back of each heel were three yellow spikes, while a row of curved spikes ran down the creatures back. They started out as yellow, changing to a dark red at the tips.
“Fresh meat. Come, scream for me meat.” It taunted, molding an orb of shadow magic in its hands. Taking a deep breath in, it cocked its head at me. “Strange. You don’t stink of fear. We will fix that.” It launched the shadow orb at me, charging in behind it.
I focused on the orb at first, using a lot more mana than I wanted to in order to deflect the spell with shadow manipulation. Hissing in annoyance, we clashed. After exchanging several lightning fast blows, we both backed off for a second to evaluate. My blade barely scratched through his scales, though his claws had the same trouble against my armor.
“Ah, you will taste so good meat. You don’t fear, you don’t retreat.” He said, licking his lips. “Come, let’s GAAAAAAAH!” While he was talking to me, Inkler slashed through his hamstring with a reality slash.
“[Rocket slash][Keen edge].” I darted forward while he was distracted, slamming my blade into the side of his neck and ripping a massive hole. The blow took off around half of its health, and caused massive bleed damage as well.
“Tricky meat, you will pay for that. [Descent of darkness]!” It cast an unknown spell, and my vision was completely gone. Not even darkvision could pierce the magical effects, but [Mystic vision] was able to see much to my delight. I saw him starting to circle me, and I played along by backing away and keeping my body facing his original location.
“[Lance of light]!” I cried out, firing a lance right as the creature leapt towards me. The lance took him right in the middle of the chest, pain disrupting his attack. A follow up blow with my hammer to his snout ended the creature and the magical darkness. “Thanks for the timely attack there, buddy.” I said to Inkler as I scratched between his ears. “Just don’t think that they can’t see you, they do have a magical vision.”
Each level after that was a single Abyssal that increased in level. The fights were always short and brutal, and I wouldn’t have stood a chance if I didn’t have Inkler to harass them. We did learn that the yellow spikes had a paralyzing poison in them, as Inkler took a kick to the chest at level 48. He was immobilized for 30 seconds, and would have been easily killed if I hadn’t launched myself forward and intercepted the creature. I had never thought I would be glad for a boss, but I was really looking forward to level 50. That is, until I met the boss.
Manawarped Abyssal Hunter
Scholars have long since known that the magic field is far more intense underground than it is at the surface. This leads to much more powerful monsters, with few exceptions. It also leads to far more mutations and variants. While most of these weaken the creature enough that it becomes food for its brethren, the occasional mutation is beneficial.
The creature had two smaller sets of hands with a small arm coming out of its chest, as if some mad scientist had taken a limb from the elbow down and attached it. Instead of blue bioluminescence, the creature was leaking clouds of mana. The worst part about it was the intelligent gleam in its eyes.
“Impressed?” It asked after giving me a moment to study its form. “I must say, I have a hard time believing you could have defeated my fellows if I couldn’t see your little cat there. Have you fully recovered yet?”
“I’m good.” I said, keeping an eye out for any tricks that the creature was going to pull.
“Excellent. Let’s begin. [Binding shadows].” With a wave of one of his smaller hands, shadow tendrils leapt out and wrapped me up. “And now that you are immobilized, [Flame lance] times three!” While I initially was concerned, I was now panicking as his three remaining hands each fired a lance of flame so intense it was blue.
“[Dancing shadow steps].” I teleported forward, intending to close the distance with one move only to find myself stumbling at half the distance as the three flame lances howled through the air where I used to be. “What the?”
“Fool! You think you can teleport with all the ambient mana in here? Die. [Infernus wave].” His four hands combined to form a circle, which sent out a rapidly ballooning fireball. I had no choice but to weather the blast, crossing my arms in front of my body to try and mitigate the damage. The blast knocked me backward, taking off a large chunk of my health.
“[Chilling wind].” Turning, the creature targeted an invisible Inkler, catching him in a cone of icy winds that slowed him.
“[Oblivion sphere]!” I launched a counter attack to distract him and allow Inkler to escape further harm. He responded to my attack with a flick of a wrist, sending a small bit of mana to intercept the orb and detonate it early.
“You’ll have to do much better than that.” He said with a sneer, launching a series of spells at bot me and Inkler. It was impossible to avoid them all, and though they did minimal damage it was still piling up without giving either of us a chance to retaliate.
“[Shadowgheist]!” I created a clone, and followed it in with a charge. It wouldn’t make a perfect meat shield, but hopefully it would get me close enough to do what I had planned. Sure enough, we barely reached the halfway point when the clone bit the dust. “Damnit, this’ll have to work.” I muttered, closing the gap just a bit more. My health dropped down below half, as I cried, “[Death’s Raiments]!” All four skills activated at once, and I saw the terror and surprise come across the creatures face as he was held immobile. Staring at the creature, I saw a red outline where I could use a strike to pierce his heart, coming in from under one of his arms. The spot I chose was just below his ribcage, where I saw a small, silver flame. I assumed this would be the soul well, and struck it with the blade of my weapon.
“Ungh.” Eyes wide, the creature only managed a pained grunt as I struck, his health bar instantly emptying. The body dropped, and it almost seemed as if it was, less, somehow, than the others that I had killed. I couldn’t quite place my finger on it, but the subtle feeling nagged at me until I looted the corpse. Instead of the normal claws I got as drops from the previous creatures, the manawarped creature dropped two overlarge mana charged claws.
You are the first to have cleared the divine portion of the test levels! You have the ability to access the dungeon proper on future visits, and may choose to skip these first 50 levels so long as everyone in your party has completed them. In addition, you now have access to the dungeon alteration menu, allowing you to increase or decrease the difficulty in any set of 50 levels you have completed on divine difficulty. Rewards will be scaled with the set difficulty.
For clearing the first testing levels, you will receive a legendary weapon as a reward!
After I read the slightly confusing pop up, I noticed a swirling light that coalesced into an intricate treasure chest. Silver and gold, it was sized more like a display case than the traditional treasure chest, but that was probably because it only held a weapon. I opened it to see a two handed sword made of mithril, the hilt was simple wrapped leather with a diamond shape in the metal between where the hands would rest. The sheath next to it was solid black, with silver trim at both ends.
Legendary greatsword (2 handed)
This sword is nothing like its name. The creator was a sadistic creature, and his weapons all reflect his values. Any who recognize this weapon have a much higher chance of having lowered relations with the wielder.
Painful: Blows struck by this weapon cause 10%*(number of blows) more pain, resetting after 30 minutes of not striking.
Critless: Blows by this weapon will never do critical damage. Should a skill that guarantees a critical hit be used, the damage will change to 2-2 for that one blow.
Fateless strike: Many are the weapon designed to strike a fateful blow, saving their wielder from certain doom. This blade is one of the few opposites, enchanted that it will never perform a killing blow. Should the target be below 10 health, this sword will heal them for 50% of their maximum health.
What do you wish to do?
Enter the dungeon proper
Rest for 8 hours
Leave the dungeon
Bio: I'm a chemist that gave writing a try, and loved the results. Everything is mostly for fun right now, though I might try and get some things published eventually. Certain traits of my daughter have made it into bits of my stories, and she sometimes keeps me company when we both have trouble sleeping.