Solo Dungeon Configuration
Level range selection: 13-15
Difficulty Rating: 250
Elite Bosses: 1
Leaving the level range unchanged, Rowan dismissed the prompt.
He was weightless for two of his shuddering heartbeats before his sandals touched down onto hard ground. There was no light here save for faint neon lines and backlit text of the game interface. The first breath he sniffed had a hint of rotting foulness, magic thick in the air. Malicious despair gripped his stomach.
This was a dungeon of darkness.
"The blacksteel," he breathed.
Exhilaration pumped in his blood. This was exactly what he needed after weeks of babysitting those Elves, and now there was an actual child to feed. Rowan could only take so much. Gabrielle would have to understand that he needed some violent alone time.
On cue, the chatbox beeped.
Gabby LeMort (To Rowan Black): I’m not gonna say that was dumb, Row. So I’m gonna say at least turn on 3D recording, kay?
He did as asked, flicking open the options menu and checked a box near the top. A red circle was now blinking at the top-right next to the system clock.
Rowan LeMort: Done.
Gabby LeMort: Goodie! Love ya too ^_^
A mellow smile diffused in his cheeks as his eyes finished adjusting. He was standing at the top of a flight of stairs, the entrance caved in behind. The rock was blackish-gray, darker than slate but grayer than onyx, and matte. On the walls, runes, which he did not recognize, emitted a few lumens worth of blue light.
He picked up a fallen piece of the rock, squinting.
Hardness rating: 689
Not bad—harder than marble. He helped himself to ten units worth of rubble and fed it to his pouch, taking up a whole inventory slot, enough to build a fireplace and short chimney perhaps. And the weight disappeared. Astonishing.
Done with stalling, Rowan drew Moonfrye and tied the scabbard to his linen pants. The hilt fitted his grasp quite well, the steel guard and pommel a tad smaller than he preferred, the balance nearly perfect. The double-edged straight blade was almost entirely blacksteel with a soft iron core. Beautiful.
Moonfyre : Iron-Blacksteel Bastard Sword
Item Type: Melee weapon (one or two handed)
Item Quality: 639 (Excellent)
Damage rating: 78
Days of work for just excellent quality. Rowan wasn’t going to complain.
And a little something was missing.
Damn. I should’ve done this earlier.
He fetched a block of runestone from his inventory and crafted three STM runes in quick succession, then invoked Enchant on the sword, no reagents. The blade glowed white, the rune engraved. He inspected again, only asking for information regarding the enchantment.
Moonfyre : Enchanted Iron-Blacksteel Bastard Sword of Stamina
+1 Stamina (Enchantment Quality: 67)
Bitter disappointment taunted him. But one extra stat point was better than nothing. Exhaling, he crafted nine more STM runes from the block and enchanted his pants, garb, and sandals, each gaining a +1.
He checked his stats.
Name: Rowan LeMort
Level: 15 (EXP: 12,720/54,000)
Fate: The Demonborn
Stamina: 37 (33)
Luck: 5 (0)
Thirty-seven effective Stamina, making his character almost three times stronger and more agile than a regular human.
Done with stalling for real, Rowan slashed close the window and descended the stairs, Moonfyre held defensively in front of his chest. Each step thumped with his heart, the foul smell in the air worsening. He was ready for what was waiting in front of that rotting table.
Patches of chipped skull bone was exposed among rotting, pale flesh. Milky eyes noticed Rowan. That arm of muscle and sinew raised, its movement sluggish.
"Cresentia," he whispered, magic flowing down his arms.
Moonfyre’s edge gleamed red. Heat surged. A diagonal uppercut unleashed a crescent of flames two yards wide.
The walking corpse took a deep cut to its chest, igniting. It did not fall. A black miasma smothered the flames.
Smoke of burning flesh stung Rowan’s eyes. He sidestepped the swing of that rusty mace. His sandals scuffed as he parried a follow-up. The clash of steel rang, Moonfyre vibrating in his hands. And with a jump into an Ox Guard stance, he lopped that arm right off. Congealed blood splattered onto his face.
The mace clanged onto the floor. Without pause, the corpse’s other arm raised. Its skinless hand coiled and drew back for a punch, that entire body shifting back, exposed muscle flexing.
Sidestepping again, Rowan transitioned into a High Guard, Moonfire above his head. He slashed downward like a falling guillotine. The flesh and bone was softer than mudcake.
That hairless skull thumped onto the floor, cracking. A leather-clad body fell forward. Dead. Twice-dead.
Undead Human Corpse (Level 12)
Parts Missing: Head, Both arms
The rush of the kill pumped in Rowan’s blood for dozen ticks of the system clock. He did it. He killed a monstrosity of this world by sword alone—and with the training stances. Granted, fighting mindless undead was nothing like dueling a Myrmidon. But he did it. This was where it starts.
Rowan did not bother wasting inventory space on torn low-quality leather or rusty steel. He stepped around the smashed reception desk into the corridor, breathing lightly. Dusty mold mixed with the dissipating smell of burnt flesh.
Sealed stone doors lined the corridor on both sides every several yards. A vertical string of three runes at the center of each waited for unlocking magic, magic which he did not have. Ayla could help here.
The corridor split at the end, and Rowan hissed as he nearly walked face-first into another undead mace-wielder coming from the right.
He jumped backward, dodging a swing. "Cresientia," he barked, this time with hellfire magic. A sideways slash released a crimson-black line. Moldy flesh disintegrated on touch with the flames, not a single whiff of smoke in the air. This was not your regular burn.
The top half of its body fell backward, both forearms falling from the elbows. The mace thumped onto leather boots. Dead.
Much, much better.
Down the right path, Rowan spat a curse when he met a dead end of more rubble. He doubled back with a light jog, leaped over the two-part corpse, and prepared for another mace wielder, mentally and physically. The dark mana in the air thickened with each step in this direction—to the point that he could now draw on it to bolster his own reserves. Nothing like his Town Hall, however.
The corridor turned rightward. He rounded it with Moonfyre held at Longpoint.
There, over thirty yards away, an undead was waiting. It had something in its hands. That something clicked with a tang.
Sharp pain suddenly punched into Rowan’s shoulder under the collar bone, a crossbow bolt sticking out. Blood seeped into the linen, dying his garb purple in the blue lighting.
He shot a jet of hellfire from his index finger. It fell short by more than a dozen yards.
A warcry bellowed from his chest. He sprinted.
Click. A second bolt punched into his stomach. The pain was oddly bearable.
"Cresentia!" he shouted, slashing downward.
The hellfire dispersed yards in front of the undead.
A third click and tang, a third bolt punched into his lung. More pain. More blood.
"Thrustra," he coughed and lunged with an upward flick.
A burst of heat, twin needles of hellfire shot out and impaled the undead through the chest and nose. Its torso and head disintegrated, leaving legs and arms on the floor. Dead beyond reanimation.
The corridor darkening at the edges, Rowan tasted salt and iron in the back of his mouth. A trickle of sticky warmth ran down his leg. He shouldered the wall for support, smeared blood against the glowing runes. The Health bar at the bottom was draining slowly, now below the fifty percent mark.
Each breath came with a stab into his right lung. Each step came with pain digging into his abdomen.
What a fucking disaster.
Moonfyre clanged onto the floor, bouncing once. He slumped. Shame washed through his body like frostbite to the nerves. He could only watch his health slowly drain, his cheek in a pool of his own blood. And as a Demon, the blood no longer gave him a euphoric high.
What a crap way to die.
Gabrielle wasn’t going to be happy. A different agony tore into him at the thought.
The Health bar kept emptying—but at a slower rate. The wounds were coagulating. Was there hope?
No. how would he heal? Not mentioning fighting with three bolts sticking sticking out of his flesh.
Twenty-eight and a half.
When it dipped to twenty-four, the chatbox beeped.
Gabby LeMort: Ya know ya have health potions, right? Tasha bought em for ya! A whole stack!
He reached into his pouch, fumbling, and his fingers wrapped around a corked vial the size of his thumb. He pulled it out. His eyes bulged at the sight of the ruby-pink liquid. He swore these weren’t in there.
Actually, he never had checked the inventory screen. He had assumed the pouch was empty on his bed.
A mental head-butt opened the bag icon at the bottom-right. A rectangle window expanded, filled with two rows of six rounded squares. His eyes skimmed over the contents.
Oxen Leather Pouch
Small Health Potion (49)
Woodworker Profession Tome
Clothworker Profession Tome
Miner Profession Tome
Unstable Enchantment Stone (48)
Shaking off amazement, Rowan uncorked the vial and downed the strawberry syrup in a single gulp. Instantly, calming magic spread outward from his stomach, the flesh around his wounds crawling. He ripped out one bolt from his shoulder, and the wound closed in seconds.
The Health bar blipped back up to forty-two percent.
He ripped out the second bolt from his lung. There was no pain.
The wound closed. Sixty percent. The magic faded.
He stuffed the empty vial into his pouch and exchanged it for a fresh one. He bit off the cork. Sweet, sweet strawberry ran down his tongue. He grasped the third bolt by the fletchings, the worst one of them all. It was deep, almost to his spine. It came out with a spray of blood and some pain.
The wound closed with calming magic rushing to his intestines.
Ninety-percent health. Not good enough.
He sipped from a third vial, topping up theHealth bar, and re-corked it.
The chatbox beeped.
Gabby LeMort: Hehehe. Saved ya!
Yes, even from a different dimension. Somehow.
Rowan LeMort: How did you know? We’re not in party anymore.
Gabby LeMort: Been keeping an eye on your entry in my friend list. It changes color when you’re low on health.
Oh. What a neat mechanic. And speaking of neat mechanics…
Rowan LeMort: How did she make the pouch hold a stack?
Gabby LeMort: What do ya mean?
Rowan LeMort: Isn’t it tied to our secure inventories?
Ten seconds passed. Rowan stood and picked up Moonfyre, checking the edges for chinks, finding none.
Her reply came after a minute.
Gabby LeMort: Secure inventory? I dun that that exists, Row.
An invisible palm slapped his back, his eyes bulging.
Rowan LeMort: I may have assumed that.
Gabby LeMort: DUMMY!
He had no defense here, but at least he would respawn with it on his person assuming it wasn’t destroyed in his death. Perhaps he shouldn’t have put three profession tomes inside. Why was that even a good idea at the time? Laziness had controlled his hand.
The chatbox beeped again.
Gabby LeMort: We're missing three profession tomes. I assume ya haven't seen em?
His reply was long ready.
Rowan LeMort: Rowan isn't here right now. Please leave a message at the smiley face. :)