Waves of scorching heat spread over the platform, forcing both groups of soldiers and adventurers back. Turok gritted his teeth as he braced against the heat of the Fire Elemental and growled at the support mages. "Up our resistance to heat more! More! MORE!"

The mages quickly switched their spells, and blue aura shimmered over the adventurers. Turok raised his double bladed ax and pointed towards the Fire Elemental. "Chargeeee!"

The adventurers with their fire resistance upped, rushed forward, following the footsteps of Claymore One as they desperately tried to grab the attention of the Fire Elemental. The weaker adventurers could not approach nearer while Turok and Leon with their stronger abilities managed to come with melee range of the Fire Elemental.

With a mighty roar, both Turok and Leon swung their great axe and sword at the leg of the Fire Elemental. Their weapons hammered hard against the cherry red surface causing liquid rock to spray out everywhere. The Fire Elemental bent down and swung its mighty fist down to swat away the irritating creatures at its feet.

Both Turok and Leon dodged the attack, but the heatwave followed behind the swing caused their exposed skin to blister and turn red. The Fire Elemental raised its arms up again and slammed down towards the running adventurers.

Tyrier seeing the Fire Elemental had turned its back towards the support troops, turned and quickly ordered, "Go for the knees!"

The support troops in their silvery suits and heavy tanks rushed forward and they hosed the back knees of the distracted Fire Elemental. The spray of the liquid nitrogen instantly started boiling when it exited the nozzle turning in clouds of white vapour.

The freezing cold vapour blasted against the flaming surface of the Fire Elemental caused its surface to blacken and the flickering flames disappeared as the lava crusted over quickly. The Fire Elemental sensing the attack from behind switched its attention around.

As it turned its huge body around, the formed crust around its knees crumbled and flaked away. The support troops in their cumbersome gear started to retreat in panic as the Fire Elemental raised a mighty fist and hammered down, crushing an unfortunate soldier who was too slow to run.

The tanks of compressed liquid nitrogen wore by the crushed soldier burst from the impact and a cloud of vapour burst out and the flames on the hand of the Fire Elemental dimmed. It reared back as if in surprise and shook its hand in confusion.

Tyrier seeing it had paused, turned to soldiers manning the heavy machine guns and rocket launchers. "Aim for its knees now!"

Almost instantly, tracers popped from the heavy machine guns and converged towards the knees of the Fire Elemental, causing the formed crust to shatter into shards, leaving behind a thin mass of burning lava. The mages seeing the opening renewed their ice magic, aiming at the exposed portion of the knee while the support troops carrying the liquid nitrogen tried to flank the enraged Fire Elemental without getting its attention.

"Come on!" Tyrier yelled to the rest. "Get its attention so that the cryo boys can do their work!"

Gunfire resumed as the soldiers tried to get the attention of the Fire Elemental while the adventurers with only melee weapons waved and yelled at the sides. The Fire Elemental became confused with the yelling and the pinpricks of bullets hammered its body and its legs did not seem to work well.

Its turned its featureless stubby head together with its whole body left and right as it could not make its choice to attack who for the moment. Its moment of hesitation allowed the support troops to reposition themselves behind the Fire Elemental and they repeated their attacks at the knees again.

This time, the support soldiers were smarter as they gave the triggers of their spray guns a good squeeze of a couple of heartbeats before they scrambled back away in retreat. Predictably, the Fire Elemental turned around again. swinging its flaming arms, but the soldiers had already retreated to a safe distance.

The Fire Elemental tried to chase after the running soldiers but it suddenly paused as it tried to raise its legs forward. Shards of basalt and tiny crystals broke off from the hardened crust and after a short pause, the Fire Elemental ignored its damaged legs and stormed after the running soldiers.

Tracer fire and trails of rockets chase after the Fire Elemental, as the gunners tried to destroy its legs. The Fire Elemental only seemed intended to attack those closest to it as its attack patterns started to become more predictable, allowing the adventurers and soldiers to work together, distracting and flanking it.

Suddenly with a loud crack, the knee of the Fire Elemental broke and its upper body appeared to hang in mid air for a second before it dropped heavily down and snapping its other weakened knee. Flames and smoke erupted from its body as it slammed face down and the adventurers and soldiers cheered.

Without its mobility, the Fire Elemental could only crawl about with its arms as it tried to destroy those who torment it. Working together as a team, the adventurers taunted and attracted the Fire Elemental's attention while the support soldiers spray clouds of liquid nitrogen over its body.

Turok and Leon would then rush in and smash apart any areas that had turned into black basalt and bit by bit, the Fire Elemental was broken up into chunks of hot rocks. Finally, what remained of the Fire Elemental was just a large lump of hardened crust the size of a small wagon. The flames had all disappeared and bits and pieces of cooled basalt and rocks littered the platform.

"HAAAH!" Turok yelled as he swung his axe down and cracked the hardened remains of the Fire Elemental in half. A piece of flaming orange crystal the size of a football rolled out and the last embers of fire faded away from the lifeless rock.

"It's dead right?" Hitsu asked as he took a sip of warm water from his canteen. "That's dead right or do we need the ice boys to spray more of their white stuff at it?"

"Orcs smash!" Turok growled as he raised his axe over his head to chop down at the burning crystal.

"No!" Ciel cried out as she rushed over to stop Turok. "T- That's the heart of a fire elemental! I- Its... priceless!"

Turok paused in his actions and stared suspiciously at the crystal which had flames coming out. "Priceless?"

"YES!" Ciel repeated as she leaned close to the burning heart. "I read about it before! It can grant a fire Elementalist great control over fire and its flames will never extinguish even in a thousand years!"

"Wow!" Hitsu gave a low whistle of appreciation. "That is pretty cool!"

"We deal with it later!" Tyrier said as he eyed the burning heart warily. "We still have unfinished business!"

Tyrier's words made everyone turn their attention to the pedestal with the glowing orb hovering over it. Turok gave Tyrier a knowing nod before he turned to his people and growled, "Spread out!"

"Grab the wounded and move them back to the bridge!" Tyrier ordered his men. "The rest spread out and keep your eyes peeled!"

Both adventurers and soldiers cautiously advanced forward and this time around, they avoided the centre of the platform as they did not want another Fire Elemental or some other thing landing on their heads from the ceiling again.

"Looks clear!" A soldier outfitted in a thick turtle vest armour reported as he put away several gadgets both electrical and arcane after ensuring there wasn' any traps or surprises on the pedestal. "But that thing's magic power is way over the charts!"

"It must be the Dungeon's Core!" Someone yelled from behind.

"So what now?" Irisval asked as she leaned close to the floating Dungeon Core. She could feel the surging power coming from the core even from a small distance away. "Do we destroy it or take it?"

"We take it!" Tyrier said as he pushed his way forward. He carried a thick matt black case in one hand. He placed the case down and started to put on thick gloves made out of dragon hide and lined with lead before he reached out to grab the glowing orb.

Surprisingly, as his gloved hands closed over the glow, the object inside was actually smaller than expected. Tyrier carefully retracted his hand and placed the object into the case while the rest crowded over curiously to see what was inside the glow.

A golden pyramid shaped object about the fist size of a child laid on the lead lined cushion of the case. The once bright glow had vanished and it laid there inert with runes of some sort covering its sides. "Is that the core? It looks... normal?"

"Better be safe than sorry!" Tyrier said as he closed the lid and secured the case. "Let's check if there is anything else here..."

Just as he finished his sentence, the entire level started quaking. Rock dust started raining down from the ceilings and the lava started bubbling violently. Bits and pieces of the ceiling started crumbling down and lava started to drip down from the cracks.

"Oh shit..." Hitsu moaned. "Is the level collapsing?"

"OUT!" Tyrier roared urgently. "Get the hell out of here now! GO!"

Both the adventurers and soldiers started running towards the bridge. Ciel paused in her footsteps and she ran towards the flaming heart and using her fire elemental powers, she grabbed the heart with her bare hands. Despite her heightened resistance to flames, the scorching heat and power from the heart burnt her hands, making her grit her teeth in pain as she endured her burns.

"Ciel!" Justze stared at her in horror. "What are you doing?"

Irisval stopped next to Justze and she used her powers, picking up the scattered pieces of basalt and created a bowl which she yelled at Ciel. "Drop that thing in here! Quickly!"

Ciel with tears streaming down her eyes quickly dropped the burning hot Fire Elemental heart into the thick bowl which Irisval quickly sealed it up, creating a ball with the heart inside. Even with the thick layer of basalt, the ball of basalt started to feel warm and growing hotter by the second.

"Hurry up and run!" Irisval yelled as she focused her magic to protect her hands as she carried the ball. Justze supported Ciel and they ran after the rest who had already crossed a third of the bridge.

The quake grew stronger, and larger chunks of the ceiling fell down, followed by streams of lava. Everyone ran as fast as they could, avoiding the falling rocks and splashes of falling lava and finally the massive double stone doors appeared before them.

As they pass through the doors, the shaking of the level did not seem to cease much. They could still feel the ground and the walls around them trembling. Tyrier cursed and yelled, "Keep running! The whole dungeon is collapsing!"

"Fark... do we have to run all thirteen levels to get out?" Hitsu panted as he followed the rest.

"Dump your gear!" Tyrier ordered as he realised they might not be able to make it. Everyone quickly followed his order, dropping their armour and weapons. "Grab onto the sides of the ASAGs!"

The wounded had already been piled onto the back of the ASAGs. Now everyone squeezed in and held onto what footholds they could. The six overburdened ASAGs deployed their all terrain wheels and started zipping forward at a speed faster than what one could sustain on their two legs.

Along the way, they only paused to pick up the communication runners and support staff left behind each level and any stairs, which everyone climbed off, allowing the ASAGs to climb the stairs before boarding again and dashing off towards the exit. The quakes and rumblings grew louder and more violent as time went by. Cracks chased after the fleeing ASAGs and holes appeared behind them as the floor collapsed inwards.

Finally, they reached the first floor of the Dungeon, just barely ahead of the collapsing dungeon and emerged out in a cloud of rock dust as the Dungeon was buried forever under tons of rocks and earth.

A note from neo Koh

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neo Koh


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