As dawn slowly break, members of the dungeon exploration team gathered once more at the meeting room on the top floor of the admin building. Everyone involved was already waiting anxiously, most of all James and Kristine didn't get much sleep the night before.

James sat next to Kristine, yawning as he woke up earlier than her and had to sit in an earlier meeting, he sighed and glanced at Kristine who ignored him. "It was nice last night," He whispered in her ear, making her blush slightly and giving him a hard pinch on his arm.

Rubbing his arm in amusement he laid back on his chair and smiled, refocusing on the topic at hand, which Top was detailing out final instructions to both the teams. Finally, the final briefing was over and the whole room filed out and gathered at the front of the admin building where a couple of large dark green tents were set up.

"Alright, enter the tents one by one, inside you will draw equipment and supplies for the mission," Pike pointed to the two tents behind him. "Ensure you have enough food and water for two days. Spare ammunition for your weapons, and rock climbing gear."

Kristine looked nervous as she entered the first tent, and saw two tables inside. A couple of Marines dressed in battle dress uniforms gestured her over and handing her an armored tactical harness and helmet to her size, instructing her how to wear it properly. Next, she was given a Single Action Revolver, which she had qualified in the gun range many weeks ago, which the Captain mandated all personnel to go through.

When she left both the tents, she carried only the revolver with spare ammunition, a katana-like blade in a scabbard, strapped to her left leg, as she was supposed to be rear support, she didn't carry any other weapons, except a tablet and the M314 Motion and Heartbeat Tracker. She was also given a day pack which carried a multi-tool, spare batteries, 10 chemical light sticks, a first aid kit, 2 days worth of rations and water and also has 15 meters of dynamic rope strapped to the side of it.

"We do not expect you guys to take more than five hours exploring the first level," Pike said as everyone gathered before him again. "Each of you will be carrying a tracking device, and extra food and water, just in case. This tracking device," He held up an oblong shaped matt black object, "may or may not work inside, to be truthful, as we do not know what may interfere with the signals it gives off. So all the best!"

Irisval handed over a flat piece of rock each to Pike and James with arcane runes carved into it and said, "This will give you control over Number One," She points to the two 2.5 meters tall golems at the rear.

James whistled as everyone looked over the support golems and admirably said, "Damn this looks so doped!"

The new golems looked more futuristic than her earlier works, with clean lines and sloped armor. It also has a lower center of gravity, making it looked hunched, with both its arms nearly touching the floor, which also enables it to walk with all fours, allowing it to climb steps if needed. The drawings of the arcane symbols were hidden under a layer of rock armor, protecting it from damage and numerical marking to indicate which unit is marked over the right chest plate and left shoulder pauldrons.

A large mechanical repeating crossbow almost half the size of Irisval was mounted on the left arm of the golems, similar to the ancient Chinese repeating crossbows. It can fire a bolt in every three seconds from a box magazine contain twenty half meter long wood and steel bolts attached to the top of the crossbow by pumping the corking lever forward and backward.

As they walked up towards the entrance of the mines, the workers and miners lined up at the sides and cheered them on, "Damn, I always wanted to grow up to be an adventurer when I was a child," Hitsu commented as he waved at the cheering people, "I used to line up along the streets watching and cheering adventuring parties when they returned from the dungeons."

"Why didn't you then?" Pike asked as he was curious about life in Goldrose.

"Well, for one, the toll to enter a dungeon is too expensive," Hitsu shrugged as he recalled his childhood, "Also my parents never wanted me to expose myself to unknown dangers. A lot of adventurers didn't return, and they wanted me to be a clerk."

"Well, look at you now," His buddy Loke joked, "A budding adventurer!"

They followed the brightly lit interior of the mines and past the widen entrance to the Dragonite cave, where several scaffoldings and lamps had been set up, the lights turning the Dragonite cave like some kind of psychedelic display. Further down the cave, a Marine section could be seen manning a checkpoint a short distance away from the dungeon door with dozens of techs and workers doing some chores here and there.

Pike turned and looked at Specialist Private Altied, "You ok, son?"

"Yes, Top!" Altied with a slight ashen face replied back. "Can't wait to kill something, Top!"

"Sound out if you are not well," Pike said, "We don't need heroes."

"Yes, Top!" Altied gritted his teeth as he approached the gaping hole in the cliffs. His brain had suffered a shock from peering into the abyss and looking at the dark door sent shivers down his spine. Sweat slowly formed over his forehead and he felt someone patting his shoulder, and saw his buddy Young smiling at him.

"You alright bro?" Young asked concern shown on his face, as he observed the dilation of Altied's eye pupils. "You can still rest you know?"

"Fuck rest," Altied cursed, "Mind over matters! Didn't Top taught us that shit during hell's week?"

"Yeah, but you didn't get mind fucked," Young argued. "Seriously bro, if you can't do it, no one will think less of you."

"I have to do it," Altied responded firmly, "Or I will forever for scared of the dark."

"Good to hear that bro!" Hitsu looped his arm over Altied's shoulder, "We got your back!"

"Yeah!" Loke added from the side, "Claymore One forever!"

"Hooraah!" The group of brothers chorused, and Altied grinned, his fear of the dark diminishing as he stood with his brothers in arms.


Magister Thorn stood before dungeon door and placed a hand on it, giving it a gentle push, which to the surprise of the rest, it swung inwards with barely a creak. "Come on now?" Thorn looked at the surprised faces of everyone and grinned, "You think it will be hard to enter?" He gave a bark of laughter and walked into the darkness, invoking a light spell as he entered.

"Alright everyone, put on your war face," Pike shrugged and waved everyone in, "Hitsu, I want your war face, not your fuck face!"

"Top, this is my war face!" Hitsu quickly wiped the smile off his face and he readied his weapon and entered behind Loke. "Damn, does Top has some magical eyesight or something?"

"Eyes front! Less talk!" Pike barked as he entered next, following the team in.

The dungeon corridor stretched further than their light beams could reach, while Thorn's light spell floated above his head, illuminating the arched corridor. Kristine immediately went and poke around the walls as she noted the architecture of the tunnel, the walls seemed to constructed out of layers and layers of bricks, with some carvings on the upper arches of the tunnel. "Interesting," She muttered to herself.

As they continued down the corridor, Kristine waved a sensor wand around, which Irisval looked on in interest at what she was doing, and the two girls started chatting away at the middle. The heavy footsteps of the two supporting golems followed docilely behind, walking on all fours they navigate through the spacious corridor. "Anything on the sensors?" Pike asked as they walked for almost five minutes.

"Nothing Top," Young said as he waved his motion tracker left and right in front of him. The brick corridor looks clean, and not even dusty at all.

Kristine used her helmet cam to record all the drawings on the walls and after a while, "The drawings and carvings repeat themselves after a while, looks like some kind of hieroglyphics. Magister Thorn, you know anything about them?"

Thorn shook his head as he looked at the hieroglyphics, "No, my apologies, I do not have knowledge of ancient words or symbols." He suddenly pointed to the front and said, "I see another door."

"Wait!" Young hissed, "I got some movement behind the door! The signal is too weak, to detect much, I think something is blocking the scanning signals but so far comms with Ops is still ok."

Pike looked at Hitsu and Loke and jerked his head once. The two of them nodded and ran forward, each taking up a position next to the door while Altied, Young and Pike formed up them. "Ready!"

"Lights off. Go!" Pike ordered while James's team stayed back, holding the rear. Loke swung the door open, and pushed right, while Hitsu went left and the rest followed, each covering a sector. They entered a dimly lit large room with five openings, and what appeared to be dozens of ants the size of a large dog attacking several amber colored slimes. "Ok, fuck magic!" Pike cursed as he mentally rolled his eyes at the giant ants.

"What do we do now?" Hitsu whispered, the room was surprisingly lit by several large clumps of glowing moss, that gave off enough ambient light to see. The ants so far have not noticed them as they were busy harvesting the slimes, by cutting them up with their mandibles and secreting some sort of substance, that they use to collect the slime fluids.

Thorn stuck his head into the room and exclaimed "Oh my, those are spider ants! And honey slimes!"

"Danger level?" Pike asked as he kept an eye on the ants who busied themselves with the slimes.

"Hmmm, I would say spider ants are a level 3 creature," Thorn replied, "Those slimes are a level 0, they are not hostile, great for making desserts but beware of the ants, if they swarm you, they are quite troublesome."

Pike did a quick calculation, Empire Knights are around level 4 to 5 while Wind wolves are classed by the elves as level 5 to 6. "What are the spider ants characteristics?"

"They have the strength of about ten men, very fast movement speed, ability to climb walls, carapace harder than iron, lives in a hive, communicates telepathy and has a queen in control of all," Thorn ticked his fingers as he recounted the traits of a spider ant. "Weak to fire and their joints are their weak points and strong against earth magic and pierce attacks."

"Top!" Hitsu whispered, "I think they noticed us!"

The ants squeaked and chirped as they turned to faced a new threat, while several ants hurriedly bundled up the collected honey from the slimes and ran off into one of the tunnels. "They don't look so happy to see us," Loke added, his M2 Magespitter's buttstock snuggled tightly against his shoulder, as he looked down his sights at the angry ants.

"Well, if they are rife up, they turn hostile to whatever that disturbed them," Thorn added helpfully from the rear. "Yup. they look angry."

Pike closed his eyes and took a deep calming breath, "Fuck this, kill them all!" Just as the ants rushed up to them, waving their mandibles threateningly and Pike opened fire with his silenced M2.

The 6.5 mm solid lead bullet punched a hole into the head of the lead ant, the hard exoskeleton cracking and hemolymph fluid exploding out from the exit hole and the dead ant curled up as its body systems no long pumped hemolymph to its body parts.

"Fuck magic!"

A note from neo Koh

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