I kept walking through the dungeon's corridors for almost another two hours, avoiding traps and all of the monsters that looked too dangerous for me. During that time, I managed to find one other room, which wasn't too risky for me to clear it. In it, there were three of the snakes that seemed to be so prevalent in this dungeon and two dog-sized rat-like monsters with elongated bodies and a long tail with a puff of hair at the end. One of the rats succeeded in scratching me, but other than that, I didn't have any problems in killing all of them.
But I did freak out for a second when what seemed just to be a large rock that was lying on the floor of that room suddenly grew four legs and started moving.
It turned out that the rock was actually a tortoise. I have no idea what rank the monster was, but it ended up not being a problem because, well... it was a tortoise. It was about as fast a one too. Its carapace and skin were too hard for me to damage it, but by moving away from it now and then, and I was fine.
The room itself wasn't as ostentatious as the previous room. It was much smaller, and there were no statues or platforms — just the illustrations on the walls and a small, dried-out fountain in the middle. On the sides of the fountain, I found another two magic crystals that I pried out and a patch of moss at the bottom of the fountain.
Thanks to Hope, I knew that the moss was definitely magical, which made me grin from ear to ear. Magical herbs were often worth more than magic crystals. Not only were they rarer, but the uses for them varied tremendously. They could be used in all kinds of medicines, potions, and concoctions. According to Hope, many of them could also be ingested to temporarily increase the body's growth rate in a similar manner to how training on top a mana well did.
But because herbs like these were so rare, they could be hard to come by even if you had the money. Even if I sold all of the magic crystals that I had found now, it was still dubious whether I could get a hold of an herb like that. So if I could use this herb to increase my growth, I had just struck gold. I put the two crystals and the moss into my pouch. I had to press the moss down, but it seemed to be fine. I didn't have any better alternatives now anyway.
After that room, I continued further into the dungeon. The corridors gradually became more and more cave-like after that, until eventually, any signs of civilization were entirely gone, and I was walking through a damp, murky cave. It wasn't as comfortable as the corridors, but at least there were no more traps or monster encounters. There also weren't any branching paths after that — just one long cave.
I'd been walking through that cave for a while when I saw the cave gently start to curve. Just as I always did, I activated my Watching Eye ability to look through the walls before I went any further. By now, I'd used it so much that I started feeling a faint itch at the back of my eyes, but I could continue using it for a little while longer.
Through the walls, I could see how the cave opened up into a much larger cavern. A short distance from the entrance, the cavern's floor gave way to a wide ravine. The depths of the ravine were completely dark, no matter how much I tried to look into it. The weak light that seemed to be ubiquitous in this dungeon did not reach down there.
The ravine was a dozen or so meters long, and on the other side, an old, dilapidated pathway that had been etched into the cavern's floor could be seen. The path led to a big stone gate that had been carved out of the cavern's wall. There, on the stairs leading up to the gate, sat a man.
I was shocked at the sight of him. Why was there a person here? How could there be?
He was far away from where I currently was, so I slowly moved a bit closer to observe him better.
He was sitting there calmly, barely moving. His gaze was locked at the other side of the ravine. It looked like he was staring at the entrance to the cavern, almost like he was waiting for someone.
Could he have sensed I was here? I was much further away now than I was from the tiger earlier today. Him being able to detect me from this distance felt ridiculous. I slowly moved a bit closer.
Suddenly, he lifted up on of his hands to scratch his nose. The moment he did that, I froze. That hand didn't look right. The gears of recognition got to work in my brain and matched that image to something that I had read about in the textbooks. I realized what was wrong with that hand.
It was inverted.
The second I realized that, I turned around and ran. This wasn't like with the tiger, where I could choose to stay and fight. If I wanted to live now, all I could do was run and hope that it didn't come after me.
I ran and ran, and I kept running until I had long passed the turtle's room. I must have run for almost thirty whole minutes before I returned to the room with the statues. Only then did I stop to catch my breath.
I looked through the corridor behind me, afraid to see something moving towards me any second now. To be honest, it was ridiculous, still being fearful of it hunting me. If it wanted to, I wouldn't even have made it ten meters after I started running.
After all, that had been a Rakshasa.
I didn't know much about Hindu mythology. Just the bare amount that you might pick up through your life. The name of a few of the deities, or some of the general beliefs. That was shown clearly when I barely recognized any of the monsters in this dungeon. However, the Rakshasa was one of the few monsters I'd read about.
It was a blood-thirsty man-eating monster that personified destruction, with the ability to turn into the shape of a human, although with one glaring difference: their hands were backward. That was the high-ranked monster known as the Rakshasa.
For a creature like that, killing me would have been easy as cake. Even the weakest of high-ranked monster would need a strong high-ranked hero to take it down. And some of the strongest high-ranked monsters required groups of these heroes even to stand a chance. I wasn't sure where the Rakshasa could be ranked amongst the high-ranked monsters, but against me, it didn't really matter.
What I couldn't understand was why it hadn't hunted me down. It looked like it was waiting for me to enter its cave. But then, why wouldn't it do anything when I just turned around and ran away instead? Perhaps it couldn't leave that cave?
No matter the reason, I'm thankful for it. It also made me realize that I should be content with what I'd gained so far. There were a few parts of this dungeon, which I hadn't even had the chance to see if they were too dangerous or not yet, but it was better to let them be. If I run into something like the Rakshasa again, I might not be as lucky as this time.
With this mindset, I began moving to slowly retrace my steps all the way to the first room, where I entered the dungeon. It took me several hours and started to feel the consequences of spending almost the entire day inside this dungeon without food and water, especially after I had run for thirty minutes straight earlier.
When I had crawled out from the cramped tunnel and returned to the outside world, night had already set. I bent down and brushed as much of the dirt off me as I could. It already looked like I'd been out in the wild for several days. I had small scratches and mud all over me, plus that wound from where that rat had hit me. It had torn through part of my uniform on my left arm. I doubt there will be any animals around these parts that are big enough to cause wounds like these, so it might look suspicious if I come back like this.
The only way to cover it up would be to make it look like I fell down a cliff or something similar. I sighed heavily at the thought of it. I'd have to create a new wound over those scratch marks... I wasn't a fan of self-injury, but I'd had to bear with it.
But that could wait until tomorrow. For now, I still had a bit more than half of the time left during this challenge. The priority right now was building a shelter for the night. Then I could focus on achieving some of the other objectives tomorrow.
I covered up the hole to the dungeon as thoroughly as I could and pushed back the stone that had been covering it before. Then I looked up my current coordinates on my smartwatch and asked Hope to memorize them.
When I had done that, I got started looking for a good place to build a shelter nearby. I was lucky enough to find an uprooted tree with roots and dirt that functioned as an excellent start. It was freezing outside, so I put in all of my effort to finish my shelter quickly. Within thirty minutes, I had found enough branches and spruce to finish the rest of the shelter. I then spent another thirty minutes gathering firewood. We were always supposed to have an ignition steel on us, so I used that to start a fire in front of the entrance to my shelter before taking a picture of it all. Yawning, I crawled into my new shelter with my head towards the fire and went to sleep.