A loud shriek of something non-human was heard followed by something similar to rattling bones. There was a strange screeching sound of metal against hard stone along with peculiar sounding footsteps.

This was inside the Albrook Dungeon that hasn’t been rated quite yet. Dungeons in this country would be rated after an extensive investigation. The harder it would be to finish the higher the rating would become. Most of these dungeons also were given nicknames, the super dungeon in the middle of the island had its own. It was called the Infernal Dragon Dungeon, the dragon that lived there had yet to be beaten.

A certain youth in an uncoordinated brigandine armor was standing there, shield and sword in hand. He was looking at a new type of monster that he had never seen before but he had read about in books. It looked like a common skeleton that you would find in many other similar dungeons. There was a small difference though, this one here was literally on fire.

Fiery Skeleton L 10

This flaming skeleton here was dragging a large sword with one hand and moving towards Roland very slowly. He knew that taking care of this monster would be an easy feat but he wasn’t here to do that. It was the time to train his battle-related skills instead of his magic this time around.

He waited patiently without doing any hasty moves. The monster dragged its body toward him slowly and when it was in range it gave out a loud shriek. How the creature could scream without any vocal cords was what he started asking himself. The large overswing finally came as the skeleton tried hitting him with that sword.

He moved behind his shield and took the hit straight on. Normally this would be the time where he used his own sword to slice the monster's head off. Roland didn’t do that yet though, he just backed off slightly while looking at his left hand.

‘The attack wasn’t that heavy, I can probably grind with this guy a bit…’

Some skills like shield proficiency and swordsmanship could be trained past the basic variant of the skills by some classes. This was true for most regular combat classes, even an archer could do this. But a non-combat class like a villager wouldn’t be able to do that.

So the grinding initiative that he thought of had started. One of the easiest skills would be the one concerning shields and armor. By just blocking with this piece of steel he could level it up. It was even easier with the armor proficiencies as a person only needed to move around in combat to level it up.

If you took hits while wearing heavy armor it would go up even faster but was a lot more dangerous. The tactic was simple, fighting slow enemies that were easy to read. This skeleton was one of them, his attacking pattern was pretty simple. It would only charge at him blindly while swinging its longsword. The creature’s strength was quite low as it had trouble holding its weapon steady, blocking it with a shield was a simple task.

So the little dance continued until the skeleton’s inferior weapon couldn’t take it much longer. With one last swing against Roland’s shield, the rusty sword snapped in half and flew against the wall. This was also the time that he decided to end the training session.

You have gained 2 experience points

Roland listened to the voice that proclaimed how much experience he had earned. He was already used to how meager the gain was but it was still disheartening.

‘I could probably get more experience by quickly making iron nails at this point…’

The monster crumbled into a pile of bones after having its head chopped off with one swing. The fire on its remains continued to burn for a few moments before leaving mostly dust behind. As a little bonus, a small mana stone was retrieved from one of the eye sockets.

‘Can I sell this bone dust for something?’

Roland rubbed his chin while looking at the pile of half singed remains. He wasn’t sure but an alchemist might be able to mix this with something. It was a magic skeleton that could resist fire while moving around so maybe this could be used for a fire-resistance potion.

More money was always better so he placed what he could into a large jar that then was pocketed into a spatial bag. After he was finished here he was planning to visit the city, the market there was booming. This was his first day on the job so it would be better to take whatever he could.

He had many spatial bags with himself so he probably had a leg up against the competition. Most bronze adventurers lacked the funds for a bag like this and steel graded ones probably only had one. The bags he had weren’t bottomless, he would probably fill them up quite fast if he started gathering the larger creature corpses.

Roland grabbed what he could get and then examined his shield. He could see that the skeleton had scratched up his kite shield but it was still in working order. This particular one was in the shape of a teardrop. When he held it up to his chin it reached below his knees and was able to cover most of his body with its width.

It also had some mana stones imbued to its structure. He placed them on the inside right next to the shield’s enarmes. This enarmes was composed of leather gripping straps attached to the back of the shield. It was held in place by riveting through the leather and the facing of the shield. On the other side, a person could see the spots that it was riveted through. It wasn’t perfect and looked a bit janky but it worked well enough to get him by here.

There was a limit to how many mana stones a shield like this could hold. He couldn’t just plaster the backside with ten of them to mitigate all of the mana requirements. The runic structure wouldn’t be able to handle the purified mana and would just deteriorate the whole spell structure instantly. Something akin to a short circuit would happen which would destroy the whole rune.

He had chosen the lesser stones for this shield as he wasn’t willing to test the common graded ones on it. The limit on this steel shield was three stones, with them around the mana cost went down dramatically. Each stone lowered the mana requirements by close to 20%.

That counted for only spells at the same level though. He had placed a regular mana shield runic spell on it. With the stones and his passive skills the cost was lowered by close to 70% of its original. For him, with a high mana pool, this meant that he could spam this skill quite often and not fear running dry on mana.

This wasn’t the only spell that was on this shield. He had gotten the hang of multi-structural runic compositions a bit now. He had also gone with a lesser fire resistance buffing spell. This spell would take a flat number of mana points away from him for it to work. This would produce a constant effect, with the lowered mana costs it was quite manageable and a must for the dungeon filled with fire type monsters.

He had already done some extensive testing against the weaker monsters. The slimes heated spit was useless against this shield. He didn’t even feel it heating up after taking a direct hit. It was also the highest possible spell structure which would make any fire attacks below tier 2 highly ineffective.

He didn’t have time to work on all of his gear yet, his house renovation was taking up a lot of time and he still lacked a forge. The plan was to train in the dungeon while waiting a month for the construction workers to arrive. Most of them were busy working on the various new stores that were being built by some rich merchants or business owners. The city was constantly progressing but he had already made an appointment.

Roland gripped his shield while placing his sword back into the sheath. He then pulled out the map of this dungeon’s level. This was still the first level and he was finished with examining it. It took him a few hours to go through the tunnels without rushing but it was time to move on.

The skeletons were the strongest enemy on this level and capped out at the 10th level. Besides them and the slimes, there were also lizard looking monsters called ‘Baby Salamanders’. That last one was rumored to evolve into more ferocious monsters like fire drakes and fire wyverns if they gained enough levels.

The biggest problem with this level was the sheer number of other adventurers. He met them along the way quite often which slowed down his progress. When they were fighting he needed to wait for them to be done before progressing.

He could be accused of kill stealing if he tried forcing his way through. Roland wished to evade conflict with others, at least for now. After getting a silver grade card, he could start throwing his weight around a bit. With higher levels prestige wasn’t far behind.

‘If I b-line for the second level from the entrance, I could probably get there in 15 minutes…’

This level wasn’t that large, if a person knew the way they could stroll past most dangers and descend to the second level quite fast. The lower levels would have less competition and more space to move. The size of the labyrinth increased with the lower levels, there was also supposed to be a boss room somewhere. After passing it you would arrive at a different area than the labyrinth or so the intel said.

‘Should I go down, or head home?’

Roland looked at his remaining mana and stamina. Due to sticking to close-quarters combat, he didn’t really waste any of his magic points. He did spend a lot of time here, mostly by using his shield to deflect the monster attacks. He could easily kill the creatures here with one swing of the sword, using his spells on the other hand would be overkill.

In the end, he decided to head home, it was close to sundown and he didn’t want to trek back while it was dark. He could still scribe more spells back home and repair his runic gear. This would also increase his experience pool and help him level up faster.

After using the map to guide himself he was outside after about fifteen minutes. Other adventurers were also going home and not many were going in. There weren’t that many facilities in this city so remaining here during the night would be dangerous. Sleeping or camping inside the dungeon was also ill-advised.

There were expeditions that took precautions when venturing inside. Some gold and silver adventurers were already down in the lower levels mapping everything out at this very moment.

A large group, sometimes part of a larger organization would take on such a task. They would bring non-combatants inside that could cook and disassemble monsters. Some were used as packing mules as even with the spatial technology space would run out with long expeditions.

People like that would be called ‘Packing Mules’. They were easily identifiable by the large backpacks that they were wearing. Those were specialized spatial devices with increased capacity and weight management. This job didn’t pay much but such a person wasn’t required to fight.

Roland was a solo adventurer so he didn’t really have much use for a packing mule like that. He could just dump everything back at the guild for processing. The monsters he was fighting at the moment were small so he could manage. Protecting such a person in a one-man party would prove difficult.

The red sun rays greeted him after he ascended the long flight of stairs outside of the dungeon. The people that were selling potions were still there and the young girl was still trying to entice buyers. With time more merchants would probably set up camp here, maybe some large stores and even a hotel could be placed in close proximity.

‘Can’t have a store too close though, the dungeon might go through an expansion sooner or later.’

Some dungeons went through things like ‘expansions’ which increased their size. Such a phenomenon could change the landscape that such a dungeon was on. This volcano could start getting larger and push itself more in a given direction.

The possibility of that happening was low, mostly the dungeons expanded below ground but you had to take things like that into account. Having a smaller store in a wagon was probably the smarter option at the moment.

He left the dungeon along with some other adventurers that were probably also going back to their homes. He remained between some groups as it was unavoidable with so many people around. Roland took some time to look at the parties that were here and spotted a common trait that most of them had.

‘Most of them don’t look over twenty...’

This did make sense to him. Youths would be more prone to adventure out into other lands while seasoned adventurers probably already had things figured out for themselves. It was a big gamble to go to another city that was far away if you already had a good thing going for yourself. The veterans also knew the dangers of going into unmapped dungeons. The first ones there had the opportunity to gain some rare loot but also to get killed by a trap or unique monster.

‘The grinding spots should clear out the further down I go, most of these people are bronze or steel grade.’

He thought that maybe going down to an area that monsters were around the 40th level would be the best choice. Facing ones over 50 would be manageable with his spells but he wasn’t really a true tier 2 class holder yet.

With time he arrived back at his brand spanking new home. The door wasn’t even squeaking that much as he did replace the hinges. That didn’t keep it from scratching the wooden floor that he had fixed as the door was a tight fit.

No one had decided to pay him a visit back here for now. He was in the middle of setting up a wooden fence around his land. If he had the time and manpower he would place large three meter tall walls to keep everyone out. Along with barbed wire to make it hard for people to climb over it.

This would be a project for the future as he still needed the construction company to get over here. Roland was still in possession of some gold coins that he earned back at Edelgard. He received a large sum from Marlo, his old boss. Besides that, he had his own gold saved up from years of scribing scrolls and enchanting runic equipment.

He should be able to get the place renovated with what he had. Resources like wood or stone weren’t that costly so setting up the wall and some defenses wasn’t a pipe dream. The wall would be placed more as a deterrent than a defensive measure.

He just wanted people to see that they weren’t that welcome inside. If someone decided to climb over the barbed wire walls then the gloves would come off. The first line of defenses would be the usual trap mines but he was planning to include some other things. There were other spells that he could use. Ones that didn’t cause widespread damage to his own property.

‘Wish this game system came with a target seeking defensive turrets. I’ll probably have to design those myself, wonder if that will ever be possible...’

Roland had something similar in mind that utilized a specialized spell that could also be triggered. The only problem was with the scroll format. He didn’t really want to have to replace the trap scrolls each time someone invaded his privacy. Making some kind of mana generator that included the mana stones was something he was very interested in.

He had the knowledge of runes and ethereal pathways that worked similar to wireless technology in his old world. If he managed to create something to generate a source of mana that was constant he could wire up his whole house. With this, he would be able to make mana powered utensils that he wouldn’t need to power directly himself.

For now, he knew how to include mana stones into the runic structures. Those still required a small jolt of his mana to activate even though the drain was lessened dramatically.

‘I guess I could look through the auction house, but finding something there as a reference will probably be hard…’

He tried to recall anything that could be of use to him. Something like the engine from that magical train came to mind but there wasn’t anything like that here. He would need to check the town for any magical devices that could work by themselves. But for now, it was time to wind down, he had spent the whole day in the labyrinth, his research would have to wait for another day. Getting some hot water into his tub was the more important thing to do now.


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