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"Lanterns on, and make sure you have potions equipped to your belt." Jay patted the side of her belt, lantern attached with its flickering flame.

"I’m ready." Lucas said, his lantern was attached to his hip and turned on with the twist of a nob. "Thanks for the potions, by the way." He unsheathed his new wand from his belt, a proper-looking piece of equipment carved from dark wood, and tapped at one bottle with it.

"Same here." Tony turned his lantern on, then pulled his flute free, which was now sporting carved designs in the wood. "All those quests we did were worth it. This dungeon should be a piece of cake with all this new gear." He glanced down at his tan pants that were puffy around his thighs. "I wish the gear for my class wasn’t so ugly. At least Cookie finished this shirt for me." The Kobold flexed an arm, showing off the normal sleeves of his dark green tunic.

"I’m glad you like it. It’s not my best work. I’m rather rusty. I haven’t sewn any clothing from scratch in years." Cookie was sporting new pants that had armor plating on the front of her legs. With her belt already prepared, she equipped a round wooden shield with metal framing, then unsheathed a shiny sword.

"I think you did good, Cookie. Not that the little shrimp deserved it." Raven held a wand identical to Lucas’. "Now that you got his shirt done, maybe you could make me one. Something that matches this new skirt." She motioned to the cream-colored box pleated knee-length skirt. "It goes well with the tan shirt I started the game with, but I need more color in my life."

Tony rolled his eyes.

"Don’t you worry. I already have some ideas." Cookie nodded, looking Raven over.

"That reminds me." Lucas pulled out his journal and went to his equipment page. He tapped the icon for his pants, and was given the option to equip the new ones in his backpack he had gotten from the last quest they did. With one tap, his pants changed in an instant. Now he sported cinnamon-colored pants with laced ankle cuffs.

"Almost forgot to equip my new pants. Not that they have much better stats."

Jay sighed. "Are you all ready now?"

"I already said I was." Tony turned to Jay. "Didn’t you get new equipment?"

"No. I already did the quests I had you guys do, so I didn’t get any experience or items." Jay turned to Cookie. "If we’re all ready, then Cookie needs to lead the way."

"I’m ready. It’s time to save Timothy!" She held her sword outward, then proceeded into the dark cave. "I hope he’s okay. We couldn’t rescue him yesterday."

"Timothy?" Jay repeated, following Cookie. "Oh. The kid for the quest. He’s fine."

"I doubt they’d do anything to a child NPC." Lucas was next to step into the cave.

"Yeah. I wouldn’t worry about it, Cookie." Tony said, going in after Lucas.

"I’m more worried about those bugs." Raven paused for a moment before stepping into the darkness.

"We should be fine. You guys have better weapons and armor, two more skills, and emergency potions if needed. This’ll be easy." Jay called back.

"It’s the first dungeon of the game, and we know what we’re doing now. I’m not worried." Tony said with a nod. "I won’t be at the front this time, so it’ll be even better. I’m tired of being the one getting attacked by bugs all the time."

The group continued on in silence until the walls pulled apart and opened up into a large room. Cookie and Jay stayed in the front while the others grouped up several feet back. The centipede's steps echoed off the ceiling and walls, filling the air.

"Here goes." Cookie glanced back at her friends. Her sword and shield were clutched tight as she slowly stepped forward. It didn’t take long before three centipedes fell down from above, stood up, then turned their attention to her. "Block!" She held her shield close as the centipedes approached, then striking and swiping with their front legs.

"Okay, now!" Jay ran out, dagger drawn. "Focus on the one I attack." She hurried behind a centipede on Cookie’s left side and began stabbing and slashing it.

"Tony?" Lucas looked at his friend.

"I’m on it!" Tony brought his flute to his lips then played his damage buffing song.

"Ember!" Lucas shot his fire spell at the centipede Jay was focused on.

"Aqua shot!" Raven aimed her wand. Large droplets of water came together at the tip over a few seconds to form an orb of water the size of a bowling ball, which then bolted through the air to splash onto the bug. "What the?"

Lucas saw it too. The centipede was dripping wet, with no signs of stopping. That hadn’t happened before when Raven had used that spell. Then again, it hadn’t been used a lot.

"Oh! It must have the wet status effect like your spell talked about. Which means—" He stopped flicking his wand and took aim. "Shock!" The centipede was hit with sparks of electricity, then promptly fell over and faded away.

"We can’t know for sure, but I think that did more damage." Jay said, before switching to another centipede. "Cookie, your block only lasts for a few seconds. Don’t forget to attack and use skills!"

"Oh, right." Cookie lowered her shield and raised her sword. "Hilt bash!" She struck the centipede in front of her and stunned it. Stars appeared and orbited around its head.

"Vendetta." Jay said before stabbing the centipede that was stunned, the stars fading shortly after. "Perfect. I won’t grab aggro if it's stunned."

"Mend!" Raven healed Cookie with a sparkle of green magic.

"Don’t forget about your multi-hit attack, Cookie; Wide Slash!" Lucas sent orbs of magic flying from his wand.

"That’s right!" Cookie held her right arm straight out from her side. "Wide Slash!" She swung her sword to her left side, leaving a trail of red light in its wake and across the two remaining centipedes. After a second, the red streak faded away, then the centipede in front of her fell over and did the same.

"You should have opened with that, but whatever. Good job." Jay smiled at Cookie, then ran behind the last enemy on the tank’s right side. "Just one more!"

"Ember!" Lucas’s wand sent sparks and bits of fire flying. "Don’t forget about Heavy Strike, Cookie."

"Thank you!" Cookie brought her sword back in front of her and raised it up high. "Heavy strike!" Her sword gained a soft red aura as she swung it down onto the last centipede’s head, then the red aura faded.

"Its defenses are lowered, attack!" Lucas took aim. "Shock!"

"Aqua shot!" Raven pointed at the centipede.

Jay continued slashing at the centipedes’ back.

Tony’s song stopped, then a high pitch tune was played. Musical sharp symbols appeared and shot at the centipede, causing it to collapse and fade away. "Woo, kill shot! Let’s go!"

"Good job, guys. That was a lot better than last time." Jay looked down at the spot where the last centipede had disappeared.

"Mend." Raven cast her healing spell on Cookie. "There, you’re almost back to full health now."

"Thanks, sweetie!" Cookie checked her wristband then smiled at Raven. "I should probably pay more attention to this wristband. I keep forgetting when there are nasty critters attacking me."

"Raven can see our health in battle. I’m sure she’ll keep us safe." Lucas said.

Jay raised her gaze and gave a nod to Raven. "I feel safer knowing she is watching over us." She paused, then turned to where the cave continued. "Anyway, there is more to go. Take the lead when you’re ready, Cookie."

"I’m ready to go. I remember the ones past the bend up ahead glowed in the dark." Cookie walked past Jay, heading to the next room.

"No ‘Good job, Tony’? I helped finish the last one, and buffed you all to do more damage!" The Kobold threw his arms into the air briefly before letting them fall to his sides.

"You did great." Lucas chuckled, patting his friend’s shoulder as he walked past.

"Good job, flute boy. You played a song while the rest of us fought." Raven tapped Tony’s shoulder with her wand, then followed Lucas.

"I’d love to see any of you learn an instrument and then memorize and play songs in the middle of battle!" Tony grumbled. He watched the lights on his teammates disappear before breaking out into a sprint, lantern clanking.

"Stop leaving me behind!" Tony caught up with the group as they were entering a room identical to the last, except for three glowing blue centipedes moving along the ceiling.

The group watched the large insects crawling around for a few moments before reminding Cookie to move further in and start the fight. She readied her weapons and moved forward. The centipedes came down like the red ones had, except they were much quicker. Seconds after they had landed, they were at Cookie’s front and sides, delivering attacks faster than their red brethren.

"Ah!" Cookie took several steps backwards, sword and shield held defensively.

"Poisoned needle" A needle appeared in Jay’s free hand and was thrown at the rightmost insect as she charged in. "Don’t just stand there. Attack or block!" She said, driving her dagger into the centipedes’ back.

Music was played, then a ball of water shot forth, followed by bolts of electricity at the centipede being stabbed.

"Wide slash!" Cookie cried out, swinging her sword to hit all three of the insects. The one on her right side fell over shortly after.

"Mend!" Raven aimed her wand at Cookie. "Your health is going down faster than before. Be careful!"

Cookie held her shield up. "Block!"

"Vendetta!" Jay darted over to the closest centipede and stabbed it in the back. "Aerial Assault!" She jumped high up, dashed through the air, and came down to plunge her dagger into the other centipede.

"Ember!" Lucas aimed his spell at one centipede. "These blue ones go down a lot faster."

"Don’t forget about your other skills, Cookie!" Raven said, her wand flicking back and forth every few seconds to send out weak magical orbs.

"Hilt bash!" Cookie slashed the centipede in front of her. "Heavy Strike!" She thrust her sword into the insect’s chest, causing it to fall over and fade away. "Oh. They are going down fast—Ah!" She jumped back when the last centipede lunged and swiped at her.

"Raven." Lucas looked at the Elf.

She nodded and aimed at the last centipede. "Aqua shot!" The water spell formed, then flew out and hit the insect, water dripping.

"That’s what I was hoping for. Shock!" Lucas sent his electric spell out, and the centipede was down. "Nice! We got lucky with that status effect again."

The song stopped. "Ugh." Tony grumbled. "That repeating melody is getting old."

"I don’t mind it." Jay scanned the rest of the room.

"If I wasn't being attacked, I’d be able to appreciate it more. I always enjoy listening to you practice!" Cookie turned around with a half-smile. "Glad that is finally over."

"We haven’t fought a boss yet. I doubt we’re done." Jay motioned to the tunnel at the other end of the room.

"We have to fight more critters?" Cookie sighed. "I hope Timothy is okay. He must have run past all these bugs."

"I’m sure he’s fine." Raven moved ahead to stand beside Cookie. "Mend." She tapped her wand on her friend’s shoulder.

"Let’s keep going then. The quicker we get through this, the quicker we can move on to the next quest." Lucas said.

"For real. I’ve had enough of this place." Tony shook his head.

"Don’t forget that you can dodge, Cookie. It can help you avoid an attack." Jay followed behind the tank.

"I’ll try, but how am I supposed to remember all these moves?" Cookie asked.

"Isn’t it only five skills?" Tony walked alongside Lucas and Raven. "And we’ll be getting more."

"Feels like more." Cookie slowed down as she entered the tunnel.

"I don’t blame you for having trouble. I’m used to having a hotbar for skills and items. In a normal MMO, you don't need to memorize the names of skills, only what they did." Jay said.

"If we have to fight another group of enemies, Cookie should open with a heavy strike, then while Tony is buffing us, we all attack the weakened target. In theory, we would do twenty percent more damage and should be able to take it out quickly." Lucas said.

"Tony, stop your buff skill once we get down to one or two enemies. Since the buff lasts for ten seconds after it ends, we can still do more damage, but if you help deal damage, we can kill them off even faster."

"Yeah, sure. Sounds more fun than just buffing all the time." Tony shrugged.

"That’s a good strategy. Could help us get through the dungeon quicker. For the first dungeon of the game, it's more difficult than I expected. Usually it's a walk in the park." Jay said.

"Heavy strike first, and then hilt bash?" Cookie glanced back at Lucas.

"I would say to save hilt bash for a different enemy. Instead, use a wide slash if you can hit multiple at once, or just attack with your sword." Lucas looked up in thought. "Yeah, that would be good. No point in stunning an enemy that is going to be dead real fast."

"Heavy strike, then wide slash." Cookie repeated to herself. "Hm?" She came to a stop in a new room. Besides their footsteps and the occasional clank of their lanterns, the room was silent.

"I don’t hear any bugs."

"Stay on guard. This could be the boss." Jay said.

"A boss?" Cookie scanned the room, then continued forward.

"Be careful, Cookie!" Raven called out.

"Boss time, let’s do it!" Tony said.

They moved further into the room, and it wasn’t until they were in the middle that they heard the familiar sound of centipedes falling from above. Four green centipedes stood up, each one in a different corner of the room.

"We’re surrounded." Tony turned to the centipede in the corner behind him."What do we do?"

"Cookie, you need to pull them." Lucas said

"Yeah, I don’t like how that one is looking at me." Raven faced the other centipede that had dropped behind them. She watched as it reared its head back, then jolted forward. A glob of green goo shot from the centipede’s mouth and struck Raven in the chest.

"Gross!"

"Gah!" Tony stepped back after getting shot by the centipede near him. "Why me?!"

"Block!" Cookie held her shield up right before the two centipedes in front spat at her.

"Focus on the one attacking Raven." Jay ran towards the enemy in question.

"Got it. Ember!" Lucas fired his spell at the centipede as it shot at Raven once more.

"Vendetta!" Jay sped up, circled around the centipede that had just injured their healer, and slashed its back.

"What about me? I’m under attack too!" Tony raised his flute, turned to the centipede attacking Raven, then played his sharp tune.

"Rampart!" Lucas changed his aim to the Kobold, where a rock slab burst from the earth. "That’ll protect you for a few hits while you buff us."

Tony nodded, then played Warrior’s Ballad to buff the team.

"Aqua shot!" Raven retaliated with an attack of her own.

"Cookie, attack one of the centipedes on you while we take care of these two." Lucas commanded, turning back to the enemy at hand. "Shock!"

"I’ll do my best!" Cookie looked at each centipede, then after a moment charged at the one on her right side. "Heavy Strike!" Her sword gained a red aura which only dissipated after she slid to a stop and slashed the insect. "Hilt Bash!" She struck it again as it reared back, causing it to stand up straight and go still for a second.

"It’s down." Jay watched the centipede fall over.

A high-pitched note broke the song being played. Everyone, save for Cookie, turned to the sound to see the rock slab crumble away. Tony’s attention shifted to the centipede targeting him, staring for a moment before playing a brief and soft melody.

"I weakened it, but not for long!" Tony said.

"Aerial assault." Jay jumped, dashed through the air, and landed behind the centipede just as it shot at Tony, stabbing it from behind.

"You’re still above half health. You’ll be fine." Raven said, as both she and Lucas flicked their wands. "Cookie is doing fine, and she has two on her. So, no complaining!"

"Easy for you to say. The one on you is dead!" Tony glared at the Elf, then looked back at the insect targeting him. He used his flute to play a single note for two seconds. The air rippled in front of the Kobold and hastened forward to strike the centipede.

"And Cookie is tanky, I’m not!"

"Ember!" Lucas fired at the centipede, which caught aflame.

"Aqua shot!" Raven’s orb of water formed, then flew off. The centipede was hit, and a splash of water caused the flames to sizzle out.

"Uh, oops."

"Nasty critter!" Cookie stood over the body of a fading centipede. A shot of green goo hitting her in the side caused her head to turn. "I got one, all by myself!" She smiled as she ran over to the insect preparing to fire again.

Lucas glanced at Cookie before returning his attention to the centipede spitting at Tony. "Don’t worry Raven, this works too. Shock!" The electrical attack was enough to kill the insect.

"Just one more." Jay sprinted away from the fading insect. "Poisoned needle." She threw the needle at the centipede as she ran, coming to a stop behind the enemy shortly after.

"Mend!" Raven aimed her wand and healed Cookie.

A heavy strike, a sharp tune, and a handful of dagger slashes and wand flicks were enough to keel over the last enemy.

"Finally! Those were the worst yet." Tony kicked a pebble at the fading insect.

"I’m surprised they threw a formation breaker at us so early. This game isn’t messing around." Jay said.

"We did alright, I think." Lucas shrugged. "They went down quickly, like the blue ones."

"They didn’t hurt too bad. I’m already back to full health." Raven said after checking her wristband.

"The green ones are even worse than the blue ones. What even was that green stuff they were spitting at us?" Cookie looked down at her armor and clothing. "Strange. There isn’t anything on me."

"Fighting won’t affect your armor, not permanently." Jay said.

"Raven, heal Tony and Cookie to full health before we continue." Lucas looked at the path ahead. "We’re not done yet."

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About the author

DoopDudes

  • Florida

Bio: Amateur writer with too many book/story ideas and not enough time to write.

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