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A note from AJFoxmoor

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What's old collapses, times change, and new life blossoms in the ruins.

-William Tell, Friedrich Schiller

 

==POV: Zidaun==

 

Can we just break the door down?” said Gurek.

 

I rolled my eyes.

 

No,” Inda said, her voice exasperated.

 

Could we… yes, will we… no,” I said.

 

Gurek knew perfectly well we were supposed to find the correct way to get through the dungeon. Also, dungeon’s were unpredictable when people went through them in strange ways. An unawakened dungeon probably wouldn’t notice, but this dungeon was absolutely not that. There was a good reason we didn’t just use my ability to manipulate stone to travel down the outside of the tower and bypass the keep entirely.

 

We’ll take a look from the top of the wall anyway,” I said. “Give a recommendation in the report. Hopefully we can prevent some idiots from annoying the dungeon.”

 

After that we were going to take a look at these two doors. The door on the left had the same symbol as the gate. The one on the right had the number two. Neither had a crystal in the middle, so they probably weren’t locked.

 

The road that we followed to the gate continued along both sides of the inner wall. In the distance we could see a set of stairs that led up to the top of the wall.

 

Let’s go up and see what’s on the wall.”

 

Gurek grumbled, but fell back into his defensive stance and led the way. A few more minor ambushes happened along the way. After each quick slaughter we collected the loot and continued on our way.

 

In the end it only took us a few minutes to reach the stairs.

 

The stairs were the same slate grey stone as the wall and the keep, and made of the same squared off construction. The middle of the stairs was slightly worn down from the steps of countless people over the years.

 

Had the dungeon copied this from somewhere, or did it really understand people and time that well? Honestly, neither would surprise me.

 

We followed Gurek up the stairs. Nothing was up there except a long stretch of empty wall with crenelated guide-walls to each side.

 

Beyond the wall the meadow stretched out in a spread of lush green grass. Most of the grass was relatively short, at about a foot high. From this angle, much closer to the ground, the gentle rolling hills disrupted much of our ability to see farther into the distance. I could see the side of the aqueduct from here, and I was certain it was an aqueduct now. It had arching supports reaching up from the ground that were more than large enough to walk through. A wagon should be able to drive through them without any difficulty if the land was smooth enough.

Occasional sections of shrubs and longer grass offered places to conceal wildlife. I was fairly certain I saw an animal darting between clumps for a moment, but it was far enough that it was only a momentary blur.

 

Gurek walked closer and peered over the side of the wall. He whistled.

 

I don’t think anyone is going to be stupid enough to try to get past this way.”

 

I came up beside him and looked down. Below the thirty foot height of the wall was a pit that extended another ten feet down and twenty wide. The pit had metal spikes in it. And, attached to the wall for the last five feet near the top, were vertical razor sharp blades set into the wall. They joined the wall with a narrow section of steel. It looked like they were designed to break off if any weight was placed on them. And, for extra measure, a thin band of steel attached to the wall at the top of the wall, right below the crenelations. The band of steel extended from the wall a couple of inches and was equally sharp.

 

I started making notes as the others came up and took their own look.

 

Looks like a defense against jumping with the pit,” said Gurek.

 

Inda nodded, “The steel at the top would cut any rope rubbing against it. A chain would be fine, but that is a lot of extra weight to bring, and you would still need to deal with the pit and spikes.”

 

We all nodded.

 

And the spikes would break off if you tried to climb them,” I said, “even assuming you had a way to deal with the razor edges. Anything else?”

 

Yeah,” Firi said, as he pointed down the wall toward the gate, “breaking through the gate wouldn’t have done much good.”

 

The pit continued in front of the gatehouse. Though there did appear to be two small walls extending from near it, each topped with metal spikes.

 

Come on,” I said.

 

We walled down the wall until the gatehouse was directly below.

 

The two walls I had seen were each three feet high, and they bracketed where a drawbridge would descend to cross the pit. Each of the two walls was covered with spikes on the top so they couldn’t be climbed.

 

Right, so assaulting this place would suck,” Gurek said.

 

We all laughed a little.

 

Assuming there were no defenders I could tunnel through the ground or smooth over the pit and make my way through the wall. If there were any competent defenders though… yeah, it would suck. Truly powerful individuals on either side would make the defenses moot, but that was always true.

 

It’s getting late,” I said. “We’ll take a quick look at the two doors set into the wall below. Then we will get some sleep.”

 

We headed back down the wall the way we had come. The ambushes we had cleared were already filled up with more monsters, so we dispatched them again.

 

Well, I assume the door with the same symbol as the gate is probably where we are supposed to go next,” I said. “Unless anybody thinks differently.”

 

It it’s not locked, I agree,” Inda said.

The others nodded.

 

Gurek tried the door, and it opened easily.

 

Through the now open door came the smell of decay. The sweet scent of rotting plants mixed with the smell of less pleasant human wastes of all kinds.

 

We all recoiled at the smell, making various noises of disgust.

 

As the door opened wider, a light set into the ceiling showed a set of stairs going down. The faint sound of moving water echoed up through the tunnel.

 

Great,” Gurek said, “a sewer.”

 

Close the door Gurek,” I said.

 

Gladly.”

 

The door slammed shut.

 

Let’s see what’s behind the door with the two instead,” Inda said.

 

We repositioned so Gurek was in the lead again.

 

He opened the door to reveal a long hallway. It curved into the distance, obviously following the interior of the wall. A few dozen feet inside a section of wall had a handle sticking out of it.

 

We stepped inside and a familiar prompt appeared.

 

You have entered the:

Dungeon Antechamber

 

Okay, back in a safe zone,” I said.

 

I hope that door in the wall is a bathroom,” Gurek said.

 

Just don’t forget to wash your hands this time,” Inda smirked at him.

 

Yeah, yeah, let me know if it’s a bathroom when we get close will ya Zidaun?”

 

Not a problem,” I said with a laugh.

 

We got closer, and it was indeed a bathroom.

 

Okay, it’s a bathroom, be careful anyway.”

 

Fine, I’ll run a barrier in case the toilet tries to attack me.”

 

Gurek went into the bathroom and closed the door. The others were saved from having to watch anything. At least my aura sight was somewhat blurred around people due to their mana.

 

Soon enough, after remembering to wash his hands this time, Gurek emerged.

 

Anyone else need to go?” he said.

 

This corridor should let us get back to base, so I’ll wait for now,” I said.

 

Neither Firi or Inda wanted to use the restroom either, so we continued down the corridor. It continued curving for a while before it turned to the right and we started climbing stairs. Eventually we ended up in a familiar looking room after going through a door with a two. The room had two doors other than the one we entered from. One to the right and one the left. The door to the right had an arrow pointing up along with a one, and the other had an arrow pointing down and a crystal circle.

 

Okay, I’m checking the other door first, then we go through the door with a one,” I said.

 

I stepped over to the door and put my hand on it. The crystal flashed red.

 

Yeah, that is what I thought,” I said, “Let’s go file a report and grab some sleep. We can fill in the other party later. They won’t be able to get down to the dungeon for a few days anyway.”

 

We went to the other door, which disappeared at a touch, and then went upstairs to the left until we had wrapped around the room and came out in the first floor of the antechamber where we had been that morning.

 

We returned to our rooms without any trouble.

 

Once there we divided the loot as evenly as we could. A few of the coppers didn’t divide properly, but none of us felt like trying divide them by exchanging iron. We would just divide them later when we got more.

 

Then came time to do the report. We went over our notes together, trying to determine the most important details. The appearance of Tsary definitely counted. We also had to mention each monster we encountered. Each got a short hand label we could apply after we defined them once. A small section would be dedicated to a map drawn by Inda. We also needed to mention the size of the dungeon and a need for, probably, every type of specialist to take a look at the dungeon. We added a recommendation that what we had explored so far was perfect for beginners.

 

Once we had divided everything we need to report I pulled a scroll case out of my supplies. It was the second one we were using to report. I had three left. We didn’t usually use more than a couple, but we had more just in case.

 

I pulled open a small blank section of the case, where it wasn’t covered in crystal and filigree, and removed a thin roll of paper. I unrolled it and weighed down the sides so it wouldn’t roll back up. I very carefully inscribed everything that we had discussed, leaving an open section for Inda to draw a map of everything that we had seen. After I was done she took her turn, fastidiously drawing out every detail with precision.

 

We looked over everything together, making sure it was as complete as we could get it.

 

Okay,” I said, “Let’s send it off.”

 

I carefully rolled up the paper and put it back into the scroll case. I closed the case back up. Then I pushed my finger against one side and pushed mana through it. There was a loud pop from the interior of the case. Sections of the crystal dulled and cracked, while the filigree sparked. A flash of mana covered my sight of the interior of the case. When it faded, the paper inside was gone.

 

I looked down at case with contemplative eyes.

 

Think we should sacrifice this used one to the dungeon?”

 

Inda hummed in thought.

 

Maybe? They are pretty strict about making sure we return them. I think they have some way to repair them. However, they also give us a lot of leeway about what we need to do to explore, learn, or survive.

 

Actually,” she smiled, “I remember a story I heard. Some other group was exploring and needed to trap some kind of mana sensing monster. They rigged up a trap with one of these in the center. They had a mage with them that was able to set it up to go off remotely. Long story short, they killed the monster and were able to keep going through the dungeon. Pretty sure the adventurer’s guild started to design some kind of mana trap they sold to adventurers so they could clear the dungeon after that.

 

So, it might be okay.”

 

Honestly,” Gurek said, “if you want to, go ahead. We will just blame you when we get back if they are annoyed by it. We can tell them you wanted to sacrifice a still usable one and we talked you down. Yep, that is the story that I am sticking to if they care.”

 

That was actually a pretty good way to look at it.

 

Fair enough, they can blame me. I’ll go drop this one off and then come back and sleep.”

 

Want someone to come with you?” Firi asked. He gave me a shy grin.

 

I wanted to say yes, so much, but the dungeon might want to talk to me. And it couldn’t do that if I was alone.

 

I would love that,” I said, “but I am going to pray. So I might be a bit. Hopefully next time.”

 

I took the used case with me, carefully bringing it as a sacrifice, and set out.

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Comments(51)
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Borderline Valley ago

Edit suggestions:

I wanted to say yes, so much, but the dungeon might want to talk to me. And it couldn’t do that if I wasn't alone.

BO0KW0RM ago

Hmm...I wonder. New and improved version created by your local dungeon? Aaannyways Thanks for the chapter.

FDGKLRTC ago

Edit suggestions:

We walledwalked down the wall until the gatehouse was directly below.

Mokan ago

Edit suggestions:

Also, dungeons were unpredictable when people went through them in strange ways.

Tsula ago

Edit suggestions:

If it’s not locked, I agree,” Inda said.

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