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Exploration of the Dungeon has been the task of all the civilised races who make their homes above the ground ever since the first opening was made known to us.

 

However a unified approach and the free sharing of information has proven impossible to facilitate. Each kingdom, church, organisation or private army or noble house than has devoted resources into plumbing the depths and secrets beneath our feet has withheld their own slice of information from the common perception. Hoarding slivers of information like family treasures.

 

There Is much information that has been publicly confirmed, however, enough that all citizens have a reasonable awareness of the world below, the dangers and opportunities that can be found there.

 

Some the key information regards the various Strata, the levels, defined by both their depth and the concentration of mana found there.

 

The First Strata is generally accepted to lie from the surface to five kilometres deep. It is frequently referred to as the Strata of Beasts, since most of the monsters found there are exaggerated, terrible hybrids of creatures that have long existed on the surface.

 

As for the lower Strata, the second and below, information is much harder to corroborate.

 

From the 'Knowledge of the people, a series of essays' by the Magio Scholar Tarius.

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I manage to pass a fairly profitable day in this manner.

 

During the quiet moments I manage to construct a third pitfall trap and add it my expanding network, excavating another tunnel to connect it all together and gaining another level of excavate as my reward.

 

My fairly crude traps have proven surprisingly capable, netting a consistent flow of prey that I have been able to finish off quickly and conceal within my tunnels, feeding the majority of the Biomass to Tiny and taking a little for myself.

 

Over the last day I managed to take four Biomass for myself, which I've stockpiled for the time being. I could take two upgrades to pheromones immediately but I don't particularly see the need. It isn't as if I'm cooperating with the colony at the moment to the pheromones won't help achieve anything.

 

I did start to feel a little guilty about leaving the colony to its own devices for this long. After digging out the third trap I decided to start the arduous process of connecting my small network of pitfall traps to the main nest by way of a rather long underground tunnel.

 

This particular project will take a long time to actually complete, particularly since I have to return to the traps to check on the situation every now and again, as well as making frequent, ever longer trips to transport the dirt and rock I've dug back to the surface.

 

Trying to discreetly dispose of all of this dirt is proving more and more difficult. I've had to travel ever further away from my pitfalls to find a space to dispose of it and the area around my traps is starting to look a little odd, with small piles of dirt and stone popping up everywhere.

 

Thankfully whenever monsters stomp through the area they tend to scatter the dirt and pound it into the ground, concealing my work to some extent.

 

The biggest change over the last day has been Tiny. My loafing ape friend has been living the perfect life of luxury, waking up in time to feast and then sleeping immediately. Every time he wakes up he's grown a little larger and after repeating this process four times across the day he's shown significant growth, basically equalling me in size.

 

Your springtime of youth is finally here Tiny! Entering the growth phase is an important time for any monster. Perhaps Tiny is now in his teenage size, all he wants to do is sleep and eat. I'm half expecting to find him in the tunnel scratching crude graffiti on the walls and listening to punk music.

 

Joke aside, the little guy is no longer that little. If I can continue to feed him up at this pace he'll be able to display some strength in combat fairly soon. I can already see his arms starting to thicken up!

 

After killing a few more monsters I've gained the experience but I haven't managed to get that crucial level ten. Every time I finish off a monster now I await the pronouncement of Gandalf with all of my soul but he hasn't given me those sweet, sweet words.

 

I know patience is required but it's so hard when the goal is so damned close!

 

I should just dig some more, let the feeling of ant-zen wash over me and take away my worldly desires.

 

I return to digging out my tunnel, eager to connect my small network of traps to the colony. Gradually I lose my sense of time as I work, it's just so satisfying.

 

There is no need, no desires, or wants. There is only the soil and rock in my mandibles.

 

CRASH!

 

PREY! GETTEM!

 

Dropping the hunk of rock I'd been carrying I sprint towards my traps. So eager am I that I reach my next victim in merely moments.

 

Furiously scrabbling at the walls of the pit and tearing apart the branches that have fallen around it is a rather large, agitated rabbit.

 

Rather than the smaller rabbit I came into contact with during the brawl next to the ant hill this one is larger and more brutish, it's fur is thinner and patchy, almost as if the creature were sick. The thickly muscled limbs testify to the brute power of the creature which only makes it look even more silly with the small bunny ears emerging proudly from the top of its head.

 

As it thrashes I manage to get a decent look at the face of my prey, a more beastly and hideous face I haven't seen yet. A fetid, diseased pallor, fluid leaking from each eye and missing teeth are the first impression I get and further glimpses don't improve my opinion at all.

 

This rabbit, looks absolutely disgusting. The stench of death seems to ooze from every pore of the monster's body, filling the air and washing into the tunnel. I almost feel as if my whole body is pain just by looking at the beast.

 

Wait a second…

 

Quickly checking my Hp I quickly learn that I AM in pain! I'm losing health just by being near this damn thing!

 

How is damaging me just by being nearby? I've never seen anything like this Gandalf!

 

The longer I delay I more health I'm going to lose, stop slacking about Anthony, get in there!

 

POW! POW!

 

Reaching the opening of the tunnel into the pit I present the back-zone to my prey, eyeball it over my shoulder and unleash two blasts of the restrictive acid, catching the monster across the chest and one front paw.

 

I don't want to take to many chances with this beastie so I give it two shots of the acid straight away to try and restrict its movements. Looking at the monster I've concerned I may get poisoned or diseased if I were to be bitten or scratched during the fight, best to slow it down first before I tussle in close quarters with it.

 

I'd happily wait and give it a few more bursts before fighting but my Hp is dropping every second and I can't wait for too long. This thing needs to be finished as fast as possible.

 

As the beastly rabbit roars and groans, it's patchy fur proving little protection from the burning liquid that covers it, I hear a surprising sound behind me.

 

Before I can dash forward and apply the righteous fury of mandibles to this rotting rabbit from behind me, screeching in fury comes Tiny. His bat face is twisted in rage as he hurtles forward using his knuckles and hind legs to propel him forward.

 

I can't even react before my ape friend has thrown himself on the much larger rabbit, punching and biting in a frenzy.

 

What the hell! All of a sudden you want to fight?! Why now you slacking ape?!

 

Hurriedly I charge forward after him, not wanting to see any harm to come to my friend/investment after all of this time.

 

The rabbit reacts aggressively to Tiny's assault, yowling in a high piercing wail that seems to drill straight into my ears and attack my mind itself. Not enough though! Shaking of the distraction I charge up my infused mandibles immediately.

 

You're not going to last long you damned rabbit! You and your death aura are not long for this world!

 

I use my crushing bite at the same time, maximising my damage and ripping straight into the nearest limb, the front leg on the rabbit's left side.

 

As my mandibles crunch home I can tell something feels off about the response I feel. The flesh of the creature feels thin and weak, ghastly juices and blood pour out of the limb, all over my face.

 

Oh. My. Gandalf.

 

What the heck is this disgusting stuff!? Ugh kalla frazzle! It's in my eye!

 

As soon as the liquid hits me I can feel a burning pain start resonating through my head instantly. Is this acid!? Has this stupid monster got acid blood or something?!

 

My Hp is dropping even faster now! If this stuff eats through my carapace and inside my head I'll be done for! Activate the regeneration immediately!

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RinoZ

Bio: Working older person with family who really likes webnovels and decided to write one. Here we are!

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