Within a dimly lit system of caverns and tunnels, a rockbiter rat bore its way through dense rock formations, spurred on by the all too familiar stench of blood. The rockbiter rat quickly darted past large skeletons, the stench of rotten bones causing its nose to twitch. Some of these skeletons were large enough to reach the top of the ceilings. One could imagine just how massive some of these creatures had been. But they had all perished here, losing the battle against stronger foes.
The rockbiter rat meandered through the tunnels, its pace accelerating as the stench of blood grew stronger. The air grew heavy and red with blood mist, the suffocating stench drilling through the rockbiter rat's nose all the way to its brain. The rockbiter rat's eyes gradually turned blood-red and its squeaks grew louder and more frequent as it descended into a blood-induced frenzy. It no longer bothered with cavern pathways. After pausing for a moment, it directly bit into the rocky walls. Teeth and claws sharper and tougher than iron tore through the dense rock like tofu, allowing the beast to take the shortest path to the source of the smell.
The rockbiter rat drilled out of the rocks into a large, open cavern, where it was not surprised to see thousands of its brethren. A quick glance around revealed several hundreds more pouring out of holes in the caverns walls. The rockbiter rat ignored the others as it charged forward, having already lost its mind to bloodlust.
A powerful boom aKin to the rumbling of thunder reverberated within the cavern, closely accompanied by massive gusts of wind. The rockbiter rat let out a pained screech as it was sent tumbling back the way it came. The wind felt like a ten-tonne hammer. It left the rockbiter rat disoriented and confused, instantly curing it of its frenzied state.
The rockbiter rat shook its head, squeaKing softly as its eyes slowly returned to its natural black. With its bloodlust gone, the rockbiter rat suddenly suffered a cold chill down its spine. It instinctively scurried behind a large boulder just as another blast of wind boosted past. The rockbiter rat stared in disbelief as it saw hundreds of its Kind burst into blood mist. It shivered, a heavy sense of dread pressing down on it as the blood from its Kind condensed into a thick mist.
The rockbiter rat could not escape its fate. It reluctantly inhaled the concentrated mist, then overcome by the ensuing bloodlust, it charged out from behind the boulder and rushed towards the center of the cavern. It had barely crossed ten feet when another boom blasted out, accompanied by the deadly shockwaves.
The last thing the rockbiter rat saw was the bone spear of a bloodied figure of a lone man clashing against the claw of a black dragon. The dragon's massive wings were tucked close to its side, gruesome gashes in its membrane. It had lost the ability of fight, but the black dragon was not flustered much. It could still destroy this human with its massive 15 ft body. Despite facing the dragon's imposing frame, the stalwart figure showed no hints of bacKing down. The young man's muscles tensed as he struggled against the enraged dragon.
Hektor had no time to spare the onrushing rockbiter rats any heed. It took all he had not to crumble under the strength of the majestic beast facing him. His heavily scarred body was a living testament of the trials he had endured. He had learned enough to know that turning his attention elsewhere during battle was enough to get him Killed. His armor and axe were long gone, crushed to bits within the stomach of some monster. The young man had nothing on save the bone spear named [Dragon's Tooth] he had obtained from the belly of dragon and the pants he had found in a treasure chest.
Hektor gritted his teeth and inched his feet forward. He squatted low, gathered momentum then burst forth with blinding speed. The dragon reared its head in pain as its claw was torn right off. It quickly retreated with deceptively quick steps.
Hektor, eager to press on his advantage, doggedly followed. The dragon, however seemed to have anticipated this move. It swiftly spun in place even as it retreated, and its tail whizzed through the air with the speed and vigor of a viper.
Hektor's eyes narrowed. His grip tightened around the spear's shaft. The cold exterior of the bone spear chilled his palms as he crouched into a low stance. Like a prowling wolf locked onto its target, Hektor's muscles contracted as the dragon's tail approached.
Once the tail was overhead, Hektor sprang forth like an arrow shot from a bow. His spear shot out with the ferocity of a dragon. The dragon tooth at the end of the spear clashed against the insipid tail. The first clash, utilizing the full strength of both parties resulted in both weapons being blown apart. However, half a second later both parties regained their postures and unleashed a torrent of attacks at each other.
Hektor stomped onto the earth. He stubbornly held his ground as his spear flew out with the desire to obliterate all obstacles. Hektor clashed with the tail dozens of times within the span of a few seconds. His spear moved with the power of a bear and the agility of a snake, easily cutting off all attack points of the dragon's tail.
Unwilling to remain on the passive, Hektor let out a earth-shattering roar as torrents of vengeful, blood-red Ki exploded from his pores. The dragon, caught unprepared, could do nothing as its tail was blasted upward by the Ki explosion. The dragon's horror had only begun as Hektor abruptly reined in the loosed Ki and gathered it into his spear.
Faint roars echoed from Dragon's Tooth as it trembled with rage. Hektor's feet shuffled in a pattern strangely similar to those of the dragon's. Roiling red Ki surged at the tip of the spear, its ferocious intensity forming cracks on the earth.
"[Ryuuga Tensaku!]" Hektor growled as he exploded forth!
The dragon, sensing the imminent danger, let out an enraged roar. It quickly spun around and swiped down at the deranged brat. Hektor, unperturbed by the massive claw, stabbed the spear point against the incoming claw.
Red Ki violently clashed against blue Ki, releasing bursts of wild energy and massive shockwaves. Large cracks ran along the earth, and at least three whole feet of earth was disintegrated by the explosive force. Light and sound were sucked into the point between the spear head and the dragon's claw, plunging the cavern into a dense darkness.
A moment later, the condensed energy imploded! Hektor failed to stifle a pained growl as he was flung skyward, layers of sKin shredded by the violent blast. Hektor quickly righted himself midair, paying little heed to the rivulets of blood that poured from his exposed muscles. He snorted, brows locked in anger as he glared at the beast below.
Although the dragon had suffered injuries from the blast, its size was much more massive, hence it was able to withstand the pushback. The dragon's hate-filled glare locked onto the youth. With a snide grin, it quickly reared its neck and tilted its head further back. It opened its mouth wide, and several small particles of blue light gushed to the opening. The swallowed mana particles concentrated at the base of the dragon's neck. Its neck instantly swelled up as a the density of the mana particles reached critical mass.
All this occurred within the span of a second. Before Hektor could react, the dragon's head shot forward. A blood-curdling roar erupted as torrents of flames from the dragon's mouth drowned out Hektor's form.
The dragon stomped its feet against the earth, roaring and grunting in pleasure as the flames enveloped the young man. However, its joyful celebration was soon cut short. The dragon's faltered in its steps as the sea of flames began to act weirdly.
As if pulled by an invisible force, the flames began to slowly rotate in place. The scattered embers clumped together to form a massive tornado. Deep, menacing growls rumbled from the rotating pillar of flames. The dragon's eyes widened in shock. A panicked cry escaped its jaws as a section of the pillar of flames flew out in the form of a serpentine dragon. Within the blink of an eye, thousands of flaming dragons burst out of the pillar, exposing the red-haired young man within.
Hektor's fiery gaze reflected the raging flame, red hair billowing wildly amidst the loose embers. The young man gripped the spear shaft with tense determination. Hektor channeled Ki to his feet, the flame dragons responding to his spear by aligning themselves in formation next to him.
The imposing profile of a certain daeben commanding a thousand shooting stars to light up the world flashed through Hektor's mind. "I'm coming!" Hektor roared as he detonated the Ki accumulated at the soles of his feet. The young warrior shot to the earth with the harrowing speed of a bullet! The fiery dragons blazed an angry trail as they chased after the young man.
A sense of impending doom struck the black dragon. It attempted a quick retreat but Hektor was too fast.
Hektor struck the dragon's belly with the force of an artillery shell. His spear crushed the dragon's protective scales and successfully pierced through, cutting a straight line down to the ground. Hektor detonated the Ki suffused around his spear as he cut through. Once he hit the ground, he quick retreated to the side.
The dragon wailed in torment as the raging Ki savaged its internal organs. It barely had time to register the massive hole at the side of its belly when it was bombarded by the flame dragons. The cavern trembled terribly from the ensuing explosion as massive rocks fell from the ceiling to shatter against the hard earth.
Hektor silently rotated his Ki for one final attack as he briskly dodged the falling debris. He kept an eye on the screaming dragon as it was buried under hails of stone.
As expected, the dragon stormed out of the debris with a massive explosion that scattered a salvo of flaming rocks to the far corners of the cavern. The wretched dragon roared in rage and pain as it directed its hate-filled glare at the young warrior. The black dragon ignored its damaged scales and heavy blood loss. It had decided it would Kill this human no matter the cost!
Massive globs of black, hateful mana adhered to the black dragon's body, forming a massive shield as it dashed across the ground. The dragon's mana chaotically fluctuated mirroring its madness and intense rage.
Faced with the gargantuan charge, Hektor took a deep breath. His Ki changed nature, turning black in color. However, where the dragon's aura was murky and angry, Hektor's aura was calm, cold even. A faint silhouette of an imposing black direwolf materialized at his back as he took a step forward.
Hektor once again detonated Ki collected at this soles. He charged at the dragon with seemingly reckless abandon, spearhead pointed at its snout. The direwolf silhouette coalesced into a visible projection that enveloped him within as his speed increased.
The dragon roared in displeasure and rage at the human who dared to meet its challenge head-on. It ran across even faster, eager to obliterate the human with its superior ability.
The charging wolf, as if incensed by the dragon's audacity, snarled and siminlarly increased its pace.
The dragon glared at the wolf's eyes as it made to crash against it. This is where you die!
The dragon missed its footing as the wolf abruptly disappeared from its sights. Every muscle in its body had been primed for the clash so when its target went missing, the dragon could not react on time. Its instinct flared and it immediately raised its neck. It proved to be the right choice.
It barely dodged the charge of a the black wolf who flanked it from the side. The wolf's frightening agility came into effect at that moment. The wolf came to a hard stop, spun in place and lunged at the dragon's exposed neck.
The dragon let out a crazed, pained roar as the wolf bit off a large chunk off its neck. Its cries instantly cut off as a red light zipped through its neck.
Hektor dropped to the earth as the dragon's head fell. A smile spread on the young man's face as he examined the fallen head. Ever since training began, this had been his toughest fight yet. Over the course of training, he had studied dragons to the extent he probably kknew more about them than most scholars on the mainland.
Through his studies, he picked up a few sKills by mimicKing the movement of dragons. After getting blasted with dragon Ki more times than he could count, he also managed to develop his own dragon Ki. Finally, he learned how to manipulate Ki by watching dragons fight each other and himself. He steadily refined his abilities, but soon discovered a downside to the dragon Ki he learned. Maybe it was because it wasn't pure, but the dragon-Ki he learned changed his temperament to fiery and impatient like the dragons he fought. This resulted in him sustaining more injuries than was necessary during fights because he was always hot-headed.
To rectify the situation, Hektor hought long and hard about what he could do. It wasn't until five days ago that inspiration suddenly struck. At that time, the guild emblem on his chest flared up, sending a steady stream of cold yet powerful Ki through his body. Hektor did not know what could have caused such a reaction, but he could feel the unwavering pride transmitted through the emblem.
At the time, Hektor seized this feeling and began to practice with the Ki. LucKily, by the time the resonance ended, he could generated the Ki himself. He named it 'Wolf Ki' because something about its cold, prideful nature reminded him of Kira.
Right now, Hektor had two Kis, Wolf and Dragon, Black and Red respectively. Dragon Ki lent an explosive attribute to his Ki, which when infused into flames, could seize control for a short period of time. Wolf Ki on the other hand, boosted his agility, improved his judgment and enhanced his perceptiveness, allowing him to pick up on things he might have missed.
Hektor was glad because they balanced themselves out personality wise. At the very least, he would not turn unnaturally violent any time soon.
Hektor groaned as he stabbed his spear into the dragon's head. "Guess it's roasted dragon again." He glanced at a corner of the wall where a large door stood. As expected, after the dragon's death, the door began to open up on its own. "Seven floors to go..."
Hektor's eyes traveled from the door back to the dragon's corpse. "I wonder who made this dungeon." He thought back to a book he once read while he served in the military. If he recalled correctly, that was about the time when the war was at its worst. He and a bunch of his friends from military school were drafted to the frontlines despite being only eight years of age. Although he spent most of his time doing logistic work, there were two occasions were the daeben infiltrated their supply camp and he had to pick up a weapon to fend for himself.
Hektor lightly shivered as he thought back to those days. An eight year old in a warzone, forced to watch one soldier after another return dead, and in a lot of cases incomplete. It was truly a harrowing thing to imagine, but such was the daebens' dominance, that other countries were forced to take such drastic measures or face extinction.
Hektor shook his head as he corrected his train of thought. The book he read was given to him by Paris when he was lucky enough to be drafted into the young man's regiment. Back then the future king was still a rambuctious youth filled with the vigor and desire to impress in battle.
The book detailed out the three main kinds of dungeons that could be found in the world. The first were man-made dungeons. There was nothing special about these type of dungeons. Once a person cleared out the bandits or cult that occupied such dungeons, that was the end.
The second type of dungeon was what was known as a monster dungeon. The dungeons usually consisted of multiple floors of progressively more difficult monsters. These type of dungeons had a monster 'core' that was responsible for giving birth to monsters at a fixed rate. If these dungeons were not cleared regularly, the monsters within would spill out, resulting in a beast tide which would attack the closest human settlement before spreading out across the lands. These type of dungeons were a steady source of income for adventurers and explorers looking to make it big.
These monster dungeons had no limit on the number of people that could enter it at one time. People from different organizations, guilds and parties could enter these dungeons at the same time to compete for resources. Monster dungeons, like man-made dungeons could be permanently cleared. Once the core responsible for creating monsters was destroyed, there would be nothing to respawn the monsters.
Countries paid special attention to monster-dungeon clearers. This was because only specified dungeons could be cleared legally. As these were massive sources of income for countries, those who cleared dungeons without permission would be met with severe punishment.
Finally, there were 'instance dungeons'. These type of dungeons only existed when the Summoned were around. 'Instance Dungeons' were created by the gods. Ferulic taught his children how to manipulate dimensions, allowing them to create small dimensions which existed at the same time in parallel planes. These dimensions could be modified as the gods wished, after which they would place the entrance on the earth.
Summoned could then enter these dungeons in a group of specified numbers to try and find unique treasures ( there was also a pride component to beating a dungeon with the fastest time). A key feature of these type of dungeon was that when different parties entered, they were transported to different planes of existence running parallel to each other. Hence, they would never be able to interact or interfere with each other. Another feature was that the monsters respawned only after the Summoned either cleared or exited the instance.
The dungeon Hektor was in was strange because it had aspects of both Monster and Instance dungeons combined. On one hand, whenever he left the dungeon, all the monsters instantly revived, a unique characteristic of Instance Dungeons. But on the other hand, if he spent too much time in the dungeon, the floors he cleared were repopulated with new monsters, a unique characteristic of Monster Dungeons.
Also, so far, Hektor had yet to find any treasure chests and the only reward he'd found after clearing ten floors was the tough spear [Dragon's Tooth]. In fact, the more Hektor cleared the floors, the more it felt like this was not a dungeon, but an overgrown training hall. He was certain he would not have been able to learn dragon ki anywhere else.
Hektor cut out a large portion of meat and brought it to his lips. His expression remained neutral as he chewed on the tough meat and drank its blood. It would not be long before the body disappeared. He had to make sure to fill his belly...
The young man's gaze narrowed as he bit off another chunk of flesh. Wait for me. I'll be back soon...