Claire sipped her tea, "Hey Doc, is that a real or fake chest?"
"That's a real chest; they got lucky."
The two of them watched as the black beast-man opened the lid and reached inside. Claire smiled as the beast-men cheered at the loot.
"It's nice to see success sometimes Doc; almost as much fun as watching stupid deaths and careless mistakes."
Doc chortled, "I agree with you there Claire; though there is plenty of opportunity for the normal stuff later." Doc scanned the contents the adventurers had removed from the chest, "Looks like they got some coins, some leather armor, and . . . a wand?"
Claire frowned, "Wait, you can't make wands, and if memory serves no one in the dungeon has ever died with a wand. It's just been staves, sticks, and books."
They listened in as the red beast-man examined the wand.
"This is a fire wand from a different country; why is this here?" The red fur asked his brothers.
The black one shook his head, "The dungeon can't move, and I haven't heard of a wizard or sorcerer in the area. There is no way this thing should be here."
Doc frowned, "Okay, enough with the musings. Claire, you check the bag for anything else strange while I remind the adventurers where they are."
"On it Doc." Claire flew up into her house.
Doc turned his attention back to the floor and concentrated. At his command, slimes began to rise from the bridges behind the beast-men.
"Hey, the slimes are coming! We need to get a move on before we are surrounded!" The black one called out. The three dashed away as grey slimes slid over the bridges toward them.
"How will you deal with this then?" Doc murmured as he sent his mind into the stone.
Two gelatinous slimes crawled up the pillar in front of the beast-men and began to wander the platform.
Doc laughed as he heard the curses of the beast-men.
"Brothers!," The red one called out, "Gelatinous slimes don't have a core; they need magic to be dealt with!"
The black and brown one laughed at the red one and charged ahead.
"Why, fight?" The brown one yelled back.
The black one threw out his hammer into the left slime, sending it flying into the air and over edge. The brown one slashed his two blades into the air, sending wind slices out the cut the right slime into smaller pieces. As the slime struggled to reassemble, the beast-man created a large wind blast that scatter the pieces over the edge. As they ran by, the red one stomped on the few little pieces that were left.
Doc sighed, "Boo, that's too boring. Fine then, how about this?"
At his command, 4 magic slimes shuffled up the next platform and began to unleash their magic on the trio. The beast-men dodged the attacks by bending their bodies and running forward. A few spells hit the black and brown adventurers, but they grit their teeth and took them head-on, protecting their younger companion.
The red one, then, was chanting a spell from his spell book. Thanks to the protections of his fellows, he finished his spell. An ethereal turtle appeared in the air, its cries turning into a shield that covered the lead beast-men. With the shield covering them, the beast-men now ignored the magical attacks as they bounced off.
Doc winced as the magic slimes were quickly destroyed. He focused his attention as the black one began talking again.
"Anhel, are you sure it's okay to use the turtle spirit so early on? You can only use that spirit three times a day right?"
Doc perked up, "How interesting, the magic spirit beast-man uses magic with a limited number of uses a day." He stored that knowledge next to the other information he had on other magic user types.
He stopped talking as the red beast-man answered, "It's fine big brother. We just took too long on this floor, which is why we are being chased. As long as we quickly go through the other floors, it's very unlikely I'll need to use it before the boss fights." The adventurer shrugged, "As long as we find a safe place to sleep peacefully, I'll be able to recover."
Doc nodded his head, "Yeah, don't be too quick; take long enough to entertain me."
"You aren't wishing for their deaths?" At her voice, Doc turned to meet Claire's gaze as she closed the door behind her.
Doc shook his head, "I'm not strong enough to make for an interesting battle with them; I realized that after the boss fight with the undead dungeon. I'd rather they die from something amazing and powerful of my own creation; something worth being satisfied with as they join my power."
Claire rolled her eyes, "I work so hard to take away your sentiment for sympathy so you can enjoy killing, and you twist it around into some kind of macho-warrior horse dung. If I didn't know you were male before, I definitely know now."
Doc shrugged, "I learned how to have standards from you."
"Touché Doc." Claire acknowledged as she settled down onto her personal slime. She squirmed around until she was comfortable, then turned back up to the images playing across his crystal.
"You sure are taking a real hands-on approach here. Why not leave their journey to your subconsciousness and save yourself the effort until the boss fights?"
"Because," Doc explained, "This is a good chance to see the reactions of high level adventurers to my tricks and traps. I can see what they fear and don't fear, which can then help me, judge the level difficulty for the future."
Claire snorted, "You're just really bored huh."
Father Jonas sighed as he pushed himself out of bed. Wearily, he grabbed his healer prescribed cane and made his way across his room to the window. He gazed out and examined the outside. His room was on the highest level of the administrative building next to the main church and had a splendid view of most of the town, the forest, and the dungeon. He frowned at the sight of the large crowd in front of the dungeon.
"So the testing has begun then." He nodded to himself.
A knock at his door interrupted his thoughts. "Come in.," he called out.
Priest Horace entered the room, a slight frown on his face.
"Father," he called out, "You know better than to be moving around so early. Our clerics clearly stated . . ."
"Bah," Father Jonas waved his hand dismissively, "I felt the glory of Duras in my heart, and so today I can resume my duties. I have spent too much time as it is resting."
Priest Horace sighed and nodded, "Understood father; though it must be said that both you and guild master are hard pressed to keep in bed."
Jonas chuckled, "The difference is that I have my faith to heal me faster while she is forbidden from . . . Never mind." He shook his head of the thought, "Has there been any news from the clergy?"
Priest Horace nodded, "The council has sent good words for you father, all to congratulate you on your efforts and success in defending the town. The Holy Father himself offered his most pleased tidings for the news of the destruction of the invader dungeon."
The Father frowned slightly, "All and truly expected, but was there anything we did not expect?"
Horace nodded and reached into his robes, "I have three letters here specifically addressed to you with magic seal: from the Holy Father, a Holy Mother, and Father Tobias. They arrived each with a holy hawk, who await your return message." He handed the letter scrolls over to the father.
Father Jonas accepted them with a neutral face, "Leave me for the moment as I deal with there."
Priest Horace bowed and closed the doors behind him as he left.
Taking a seat at his desk, Father Jonas first opened the letter from the Holy Father. With the many religions worshiped in Nehatra, the clergy was ruled by a council formed by a Father from each religion. However, the council then answered to one of the Holies, the highest authority of the church in any country. Holies could become their gods or goddesses vessel for periods of time, and knew better the desires of their lord, though no one ever quite knew which lord or lady they represented. With this also came greater magical powers derived from faith and the adoration of the masses. Jonas himself answered to a Holy Father who governed the peninsula part of the continent.
He read through the letter quickly. Not perturbed by its contents, Jonas wrote his reply.
"Lord Holy Father," he began, "I regret to inform you that your suspicions are correct in the loss of information in the report. As I have sword a holy oath, the person of interest is thus my responsibility and I shall be watching him or her with the utmost caution for signs of evil. Since, however, his or her actions have stayed within our laws I cannot violate my oath until such time. Rest assured, I shall be most vigilant. On the other hand, the assistance of the dungeon has indeed been verified. Whether this can be used in the future requires further study. If you wish to implement the test, I will be prepared to follow your commands. Your disciple, Jonas the Pure."
He next opened the letter from the Holy Mother, the ruler of the adjacent province. A small smile played on his lips as he dipped his pen back into the ink.
"Lady Holy Mother, it does me great honor to here from one such as yourself. It is good to hear from you, considering how the war has progressed in your province. I send my support, along with the promise that any help you need I will provide if possible. To answer your question, she is doing well." He sighed as he sealed the letter.
In a pleasant mood, he opened up the last letter from Father Tobias. The soft smile abruptly vanished as he read through the letter. He slammed it down on his desk.
"HORACE, ATTEND ME!" He roared out.
Priest Horace ran into the room, a startled look on his face.
"Father, what is it?" he asked.
Jonas snarled, his face twisting in an uncommon anger that left Horace shocked.
"Tell the temple knights to start guarding the gates. I need to see the guild master right now; a prisoner has escaped from Duran."
Horace's face returned to its normal serene look, "Understood sir. Who should I tell them to look out for?"
The father sighed as his face changed to one of worry, "The former Lord Rotch, father to Sir Koran. He escaped, and demons were involved."