Fletcher jerked awake at the notification. It was the middle of the night, and it had been almost a week since he’d reset the trap. He’d also ‘solved’ the issue of the hole by wedging a sturdy plank in place to block it, and anything that might be crawling out of it.
He hurriedly got dressed and snuck his way down to the cellar. Luckily his Da was quite a heavy sleeper, so there was little chance of his waking even if Fletcher wasn’t the quietest of sneaks.
The third thing he noticed was that the trap had been triggered. Which explained the xp notification.
The second thing he noticed was that the hole had expanded downwards, collapsing the floor under the board that he had wedged in place. Which explained how the critter had gotten out.
But the first thing he noticed was the light. The almost imperceptible but unmistakable shimmery light that was visible from the hole under the board.
“Oh shit” he said. Oh Shit, he thought.
This can’t be happening. This can’t be real! Even though he’d contemplated the possibility, seeing the reality was the biggest shock he’d had in his short life.
There’s a Dungeon in my Cellar!
There’s a Dungeon in my cellar. A Dungeon! In. My Cellar!. The thought just went round and round, almost begging for the world to go back to normal and for this to make sense once the universe realised just how utterly absurd the thought really was. The reality was.
Fletcher crawled back into bed. The middle of the night was not the best time for an unwanted Dungeon crisis, so he’d done the only thing he could think of at the time. A few more boards scrounged up, a few more heavy bags of flour to hold them in place. Make the Dungeon tomorrow's problem.
Well, later today’s problem at least.
And now it was later today. He’d somehow made it through his normal work day without having a complete mental breakdown. And here he was, back in the cellar.
A little huffing and a little puffing later, he’d moved the sacks of flour that he’d piled up on and in front of the boards. Here goes nothing.
He used the broom handle to pry away the boards that were covering it.
“So far so good” he said out loud to calm his nerves. Nothing had come rushing out of the hole to devour him. Big plus.
He put the broom to one side and approached the exposed hole, lamp in hand. It was still definitely expanding, maybe a few millimetres a day? The sheen of a portal was more pronounced, but the hole behind it was still clearly visible. A bit wider, a bit deeper, but still just a hole.
Certainly didn’t look like any Dungeon he’d ever heard about.
“AAAh…” Fletcher strangled a scream, scrambling back and reaching for the broom, ready to run. Only to fall flat on his arse.
Nothing came snarling out of the hole. He sat there for several seconds, holding his breath, just the faint fluttering of the lamp flame disturbing the post scream silence.
He’d seen a beady pair of eyes reflecting the lamp light.
He carefully approached the hole again, lamp held up and broom in hand as he took another careful look. There.
A single rat, huddled at the back of the hole. He’d never seen a rat scared before, but this one certainly fit the bill. It looked like it was trying to escape through the back of the hole by virtue sheer willpower alone.
Fletcher’s racing heart slowly calmed down as he observed the rat. It didn’t look like anything special - weren’t Dungeon monsters supposed to all be fearsome creatures out for blood? This just looked like a bog standard rat.
He carefully took the bait from the nearest rat trap and deposited it just outside the shimmering Dungeon portal, and backed up a bit.
A twitch of the nose was the only reaction from the rat. So it’s true what they say about Dungeon creatures and portals.
There wasn’t really anywhere for the rat to go. Time for another experiment.
Fletcher carefully slid the broom handle into the hole, the shimmering shield providing no resistance, and moved it to prod the hapless rodent.
And soon found himself scrambling back again as the rat almost exploded with fury when the end of the broom came within reach of its claws and teeth. The tip of the broomstick bearing witness to the savagery of the rat’s attack.
Or rather, its defence. Other than savaging the tip of the broom it hadn’t moved, still keeping itself as far away as possible from the portal.
Scratching at what little hair he had on his chin, Fletcher pondered for a moment before heading out of the cellar, returning a minute later with what was likely the current broom’s predecessor. Meaning a shaft of wood that had broken on one end, leaving it rather pointy.
It wasn’t a spear, but it would do the job. And put to rest what little suspicions he had left at this point.
Again, Fletcher slid the broken shaft towards the rodent, its beady eyes glaring at him.
He shoved. The rat managed a few pitiful squeaks as it was half impaled, half crushed by the violent action. A few last jerks and then…
The rat simply faded out of existence, leaving the hole - the Dungeon - pristine.