Reivyn did some simple stretches and calisthenics in the hallway leading up to the boss room. The entire Party was there, and the plan was for the three companions who couldn't use mana to rush in and do as much damage as they could in six or seven minutes, then retreat to the hallway or entrance, depending on the situation. The boss room on the first floor didn't close off once they entered it, and Reivyn didn't see a door or mechanism to do so at the end of this hallway either.
Granted, the System could step in and make an impenetrable wall, though I doubt it. The Dungeon seems to have recurring scripts, but I haven't seen any evidence of direct punishment or interference from the System other than the requirement to clear a floor to move on to the new one.
If there was some System trickery involved, they might be in trouble, but Reivyn was confident they could handle it.
He was warming up to keep his blood flowing, as they had taken a break in the last stretch of the second floor after wiping out the patrol. They had had Kimberly, Erik, and Teilon participate this time, as their Stats had increased a lot more as compared to when they first arrived over three weeks ago. The majority of the Experience Crystals from Reivyn's group had gone to help them keep up in Level, and they were sitting at Level 25.
Reivyn noticed that they had required a bit of additional attention from the priests when they went through the mandatory inspection, so he guessed there might be some issue with the Experience Crystals.
We'll take them to the church and let everyone else know about it, especially the three local authorities - the church, the garrison, and the local guild branch - before we put them into circulation. They can probably remove any lingering taint.
Kimberly and Teilon had gained a lot of confidence from their first trip into the second floor with how well the mana infusions worked out. That confidence didn't lead to cockiness, though, as they still understood the dangers and remembered many of the same lessons Reivyn did. It led to competence and calmness when faced with the large group of Revenants.
Reivyn was happy to see his friends step up to the task, and the fact that they performed so well was one of the reasons they had decided to include the other three in the boss room. Erik was already extremely competent, he just needed the mana assistance. It was never a question of whether he was going to join them in the boss room or not.
"Alright, is everyone ready?" The others had also been warming up after their short rest.
"Yup, I'm as good as I'll ever be," Teilon spoke up. Kimberly nodded her head alongside him.
"We're both good to go," Melissa said for her and her sister. Erik grunted as he assumed his position in the front of the group.
"Ok, we'll top up the mana infusion for all three of you at the same time when we get to the entrance, and we'll use the first minute or so to assess the situation on the other side," Reivyn explained. They had obviously already talked about what they were going to do, but Reivyn had a habit of always repeating everything before initial action.
You never know what you might forget in the heat of the moment, and if it's fresh in your mind, you're more likely to subconsciously think of it, Reivyn said to himself.
"Erik and Kimberly will be in front, followed by me and Teilon, and Melissa and Larissa will bring up the rear. We'll try and get some shock value out of you three," Reivyn indicated towards the three who couldn't use mana, "but safety is paramount. Judging by the hobbled Tier 3 on the first floor, we can expect either a hobbled Tier 4 or an unrestrained Tier 3 in there. Before your mana gives out, you need to be in a safe spot, and Melissa or Larissa will top up your infusions if the opportunity arises."
"Sure thing, boss," Teilon replied. He wasn't trying to be flippant, but he was getting his mindset in order for the likely grueling challenge that faced them.
The group made their way to the entrance. The room was too big for Reivyn to see the details of what they would face before they entered the room, but the structure was at least similar to the rest of the man-made facade of the Dungeon.
Based on the dimensions he could see looking to the sides, the room wasn't nearly as big as the first floor boss room. Reivyn could see support columns placed at regular intervals, so it was a larger, more grand room than any they had entered so far. There were two columns on either side of the center of the room, and Reivyn speculated that there were more further in, out of sight of the ambient lighting.
"Let's top up and get to it," Reivyn said as he reached out to infuse the weapons and gear for Teilon. Melissa took care of Erik, and Larissa insisted on taking care of her "new best friend," Kimberly.
"Go, go, go," Reivyn said.
The group cautiously, but quickly entered the room. There were no triggers blocking the room off, System or mechanical, and Reivyn released a mental sigh.
As soon as they approached the first row of columns, a faint chanting entered Reivyn's ears. He couldn't make out what the words were, but they were in a low, deep tone. It was somewhat disconcerting, as the Revenants and other undead they had encountered so far had been incapable of speech, or any other kind of verbal sound for that matter.
The chanting seemed to come from every direction at once, and Reivyn suspected it was a magical effect associated with the boss room, and not some Revenants or other undead actually chanting.
They quickly traversed past the first row of columns, and their quarry finally came into view.
A large, circular pit filled with bubbling, red froth was located in what appeared to be the very center of the room. A group of six Revenants stood around it, three equally spaced on either side. Their hands were raised and their jaws moved like they were the ones doing the chanting, but no sounds came forth from them.
The chanting noise is probably a holdover from when they were still alive, much like the miners we could see down on the third floor are locked into the actions they held while still alive. They appear to be using the large pit as a cauldron for alchemy like the ones in the upper rooms, but this one is much more grandiose. It also has fresh ingredients, unlike the remnants of all of the other cauldrons, these thoughts entered Reivyn's head in a flash.
There was one final entity visible in the room: A Spectre floated on the other side of the pit. Its head was thrown back and its arms were out to the side. It didn't have a lower half to its body. It was just a bluish, incorporeal torso. Its head had the appearance of a middle-aged man with long hair, but the features on its face were fuzzy and indistinct.
The undead didn't react to their presence at all, and the group hesitated for a moment in order to gauge the rest of the room.
Suddenly, another Revenant appeared off from the right, dragging a goblin along with it. The goblin walked along like nothing was out of the ordinary until it got close enough to spot the bubbling mass in the pit. It started to struggle, and it grew more frantic with each step closer to its destination. It started to hiss and shriek at the Revenant pulling it along, grabbing at the bony fingers and trying to pry them off, but there was no helping it. It was completely incapable of putting up any kind of meaningful resistance, and it was slowly dragged before the floating Spectre.
The Revenant brought it forth before the Spectre, standing off to the side in order to continue holding it in place. The Spectre lowered its head and looked at the goblin briefly, then it slashed its arm across at lightning speed, and the goblin's throat erupted in blood. The Revenant quickly turned the goblin around and held it out so that the life-blood escaping from the goblin joined the rest of the alchemic concoction in the pit.
Reivyn watched in horrified fascination as not only the blood geysered out of the little creature, much more than should have been possible but also as the body of the goblin itself melted from the feet up and joined the bubbling mix. By the time it was over, there was nothing remaining of the goblin.
The Spectre finally looked up from its task and focused on Reivyn's Party. Reivyn recognized awareness in the eyes of the monster, and a raspy chuckle entered his ears. The sound of the laughter seemed to originate from multiple places in the room. One second it came directly from the Spectre, then it sounded as if it came from off in the distance. It even sounded like it came from Teilon standing next to him at one point.
The Spectre gestured towards the group, and the Revenants, as one, lowered their arms and turned to engage the Party.
Reivyn was heartened to see that the Revenants didn't move any quicker than the ones they had encountered in the hallway.
Several more Revenants appeared to materialize out of nowhere on the edges of the ambient lighting on either side of the ritual. Reivyn counted eight on his left and seven on his right.
The one who brought the goblin must have been in the group on the right. I don't know how large the room is, but seeing as how we weren't able to see any of those Revenants before they entered the light, it could be massive. They likely closed the distance in an instant.
"Erik, you and Larissa smash the ones in the center! Kimberly, Teilon, you engage the ones on the left. Melissa, crowd control the ones on the left. I'll get the ones on the right," Reivyn quickly issued commands, and all of the Party members leapt into action.
As they were maneuvering to engage the designated enemies, Reivyn noticed out of the corner of his eye that the Spectre floated backward, and it seemed to melt out of existence.
It might have gone invisible or something, Reivyn thought. "That Spectre is still around, so don't get tunnel vision!"
Reivyn ignited his Flame Blade Spell as he ran to intercept the group of Revenants that had appeared on the right. He had given himself and Erik groups of seven each, but he had opted to have Larissa assist Erik instead of himself. He was able to fight and defeat the Revenants all on his own, and while Erik could do the same, he was dependent on the mana infusion, so he had a time limit.
Reivyn had instructed his two friends to engage the group of eight Revenants with Melissa more to hold them apart from grouping up with the rest of the bunch. He knew Teilon and Kimberly could kill some with their weapons, and he was sure they were going to defeat some of them, but that wasn't their main goal.
Reivyn's Flame Blade slashed out as he Charged the outlier of the group that had set their focus on him. The fire extended out much like he had done when he first unlocked the Skill, but instead of dumping nearly his entire mana pool into fueling the Spell, he was able to keep it under better control. He only extended the blade a few feet beyond the metal tip.
Mana is what does the damage to these Revenants, and we've discovered through multiple engagements that the undead in general are more susceptible to fire, so I don't need to actually hit it with my sword.
The blade of fire passed through the neck of the first Revenant, and it threw its head back in a wordless shriek as it caught fire. The fire was magical in nature, and it quickly consumed the bones of the Revenant.
Reivyn quick-stepped back to keep his tactical positioning against the rest of the group, and the one he had set ablaze managed to take two tottering steps towards him before it crumbled.
As long as I have enough mana to fuel this Spell, and I don't get overwhelmed by numbers, these Revenants are no more dangerous to me than that goblin they sacrificed earlier, Reivyn thought. Well, as long as they're restricted by the lack of mana in the environment. From the looks of it, the third floor might have enough density for the Revenants down there to unlock their full potential.
Reivyn had learned his lessons well, so even though he was confident against the Revenants, he kept scanning the room for other threats as he maintained his focus on the task at hand. He wasn't able to completely monitor the situation in the rest of the room, but he could hear them perfectly well, and from the sounds that reached him, he knew the fight was going well so far.
Reivyn quickly dispatched each of the Revenants by dashing in on one that was slightly on the edge of the group, slashing it with his magic, and then hopping back to keep up his guard. He paced his use of Stamina and Mana so that he wouldn't just burn through it as fast as possible in case there was more to the room than initially met the eye.
Loud banging sounds came from the two sides of the wall flanking the entrance, and Reivyn glanced down when something rolling by on the floor grabbed his attention. A small piece of rubble had been thrown across the room, and the small distraction had allowed the Revenants to close the gap and launch an attack on him. He blocked the strikes he could with his shield and Evaded a couple of others before regaining his positioning.
"Ahhhhhh!" A panicked scream from Larissa entered his ears, but he couldn't turn his head away and risk leaving the last couple of Revenants out of sight, or they would materialize next to him and deliver devastating blows.
He made a decision, and instead of continuing to conserve his Stamina and Mana, he increased the output of his Flame Blade and charged in to the last three Revenants standing from his group.
He slashed the one in the middle. He raised his shield to block the hard attack coming from his left. He now had enough Strength to not get completely knocked back anymore and ducked under the blow coming from his right. He sidestepped the one he had set on fire and quickly maneuvered through the trio of the undead. He backhanded his sword across the spine of the Revenant on his right and came back up facing the last one, but this time they were positioned so that he could see back to the other groups and what they were dealing with.
A set of doors they hadn't noticed because they had been bricked up accompanied the entrance to the room. There had been six Revenants in each of the rooms, and they had destroyed the barriers preventing them from entering the boss room in order to engage the party in a surprise pincer attack. Luckily, the sealing of the rooms required them to smash through in a loud manner, otherwise, if they had been able to remain silent, they might have suffered some serious casualties.
I should have known it wouldn't have been so simple. We got lucky with the design of the room. No idea why they would have sealed those twelve people away like that, but that's not important.
Melissa and Larissa had abandoned their position in the center of the room hanging back near the entrance. They dashed over to Erik, and combined with Larissa's firepower and Erik's skilled swordsmanship, the group of seven Revenants were destroyed as Reivyn finally got into position to be able to see what was going on. Erik immediately charged forth to engage the new threat with Larissa providing fire support again, but this time the girls were positioned closer to the center of the room.
Reivyn ended the un-life of the last Revenant and sprinted across the room to help Teilon and Kimberly. He watched Erik engage the new group of twelve Revenants all on his own, and Reivyn was happy to see that he did it in an incredibly smart way.
Instead of just charging forth and getting himself surrounded, he Charged one group, attacked wildly for a second, and then Charged to the end of the other group. He lined them all up and began dragging them along behind him around the center of the room. He managed to position himself so that he wasn't directly between them and the girls he was protecting, which would have limited his room and maneuverability.
Combat was often incredibly fast and intense, and only a couple of minutes had gone by since the Party entered the room. Reivyn wasn't concerned that they would run out of mana infusion while they were spread apart so much.
Like he had thought they were capable of, Teilon and Kimberly had managed to slay three of their eight Revenants. Reivyn Charged the outermost Revenant on the left side and made quick work of it. He circled around behind the other four and gave them a taste of their own tactics.
He had to pick his footing carefully, though, as remnants of Melissa's Slick and Ice Wall Spells still populated the area. She had moved on from assisting the duo, however, and was adding her magic to her sister's to prevent the horde that Erik had picked up from overwhelming him.
Raspy laughter cackled out once more as it seemed to echo from several different places in succession, and Reivyn's hair stood on end as his Danger Sense went on overdrive.
"Watch out!" Reivyn screamed as he cut through another Revenant. There were still three left, and Teilon and Kimberly had them well in hand, but a mutation suddenly occurred.
The Spectre that had disappeared at the start of the fight materialized again. It was already moving at a fast pace as it reemerged right next to Reivyn, and he watched as its entire body zipped between the mana-infused gear that Teilon was wearing and entered his body.
Teilon froze for a moment before he started thrashing wildly about. His spear knocked into Kimberly's helmet, and she staggered at the unexpected blow. Reivyn could envision the worst happening, so he threw all caution to the wind and activated his Charge Skill with Kimberly as the target. He moved through the last two Revenants and placed his body between them and her, and he suffered a blow on his back that threw him into the off-balance girl.
Searing pain threatened to cause him to blackout as his vision darkened, and the two tumbled along the ground. The only thing that probably saved them was Melissa looked up at Reivyn's shout, and she managed to keep an eye on the Revenants, so they weren't able to use their supernatural movements when they were unseen.
"AHHHHHHH!!!" Teilon screamed in pain as his body continued to thrash around, and the Revenants now ignored him. His spear managed to knock into the skull of one of the Revenants as they walked past him to get to Reivyn and Kimberly, and Reivyn managed to use the short stumble to regain his feet and properly engage them.
"Fall back to Melissa and Larissa," Reivyn instructed Kimberly. She groggily nodded and stumbled toward the other two girls. Reivyn exerted even more mana from his dwindling supply and slashed both remaining Revenants with one swing now that he was positioned in a way where he wouldn't have to worry about hitting his two friends.
He backed up and looked at Teilon, and while he continued to scream in agony, his body stopped thrashing about and locked in place. He floated up into the air, and he started to jerk back and forth like he was a puppet being controlled by strings.
Teilon suddenly shot off towards one of the columns, and Reivyn's stomach dropped as he anticipated witnessing his best friend get smashed into a pulp.
Teilon's body, however, didn't get smashed. He phased right through the solid stone support, and whatever energy the Spectre had used to hurtle him through the air seemed to run out as his body slumped down. He still wasn't out of the woods, yet, though, so Reivyn Charged over.
What do I do in this situation? I can't slash his body, and that probably wouldn't hurt the Spectre anyway. I can't use Flame Blade, as that would also kill Teilon. I need to force the Spectre out. Think. Think.
Reivyn crouched down and held his friend down in place with his superior Strength. Even though his body had been possessed by the Spectre, it didn't seem to add any additional Stats or anything. Teilon's body lurched up and down as the undead controlling his body tried to pry it out of Reivyn's grasp.
The only thing that would hurt the Spectre is mana, and the only mana that won't hurt Teilon is pure mana.
With that thought, Reivyn infused pure mana into both of his hands, and he pumped copious amounts into his friend. Teilon's mouth opened as wide as it could go and an otherworldly shriek escaped his lips. The sound of the Spectre screaming in agony quickly shifted about in its strange way, and it suddenly came rushing out of Teilon's body.
Teilon went completely limp, but Reivyn could see that he was still conscious, if unable to move.
"Are you ok?" Reivyn asked as he knelt by his friend, cradling him.
"Ow," Teilon said. His body relaxed and he weakly lifted his hand to shoo Reivyn away. "I'll make it. Go get that bastard."
Reivyn nodded his head as he gently lowered his friend to lay fully on the ground. He turned and sprinted towards the center of the room. Luckily, Erik and Larissa had been efficient in their work, and the last large group of Revenants had been whittled down to only a couple left.
Reivyn scanned the room as he ran, but he was unable to spot the Spectre. He looked to the three girls, and he could see them surrounded in mana as they flung spells at the Revenants. He looked down at himself and activated Mana Sight. He was also covered in mana simply from the internal network fueling his spells.
The Spectre is likely unable to possess a Caster without damaging itself. Teilon still has my mana in his body, and the large amounts of mana Melissa and Larissa are throwing about are also covering Kimberly. That leaves...
He looked over in time to see the Spectre materialize behind Erik. With his Mana Sight activated, he could see the holes of mana in the places where Erik didn't have armor covering himself.
"It's going to take Erik!" Reivyn shouted as he activated Charge. With past experience, he knew that the Spectre wouldn't gain full control of Erik right away, and the Revenants would ignore him while he was possessed. There were only four left, though, and he didn't want to leave them to chase after the girls while he dealt with the possessed Erik.
He dashed in and slashed through the two front Revenants that had sidestepped Erik to start working their way towards the girls in the center of the room. His sword moved in a quick crisscross as he sliced through them, and one of Larissa's empowered Inferno spells consumed the other two.
The Spectre seemed to have learned from its previous possession of Teilon, and Erik only thrashed about for a short moment before his body was lifted into the air.
If the Spectre learned from its last possession, it's unlikely to hurl Erik at a column or the wall. What's its target?
Reivyn looked around. The room was still the same as it was before. He didn't see any additional enemies come in, and he was sure the Spectre would want to stay away from the girls. They had circled around the pit as Erik had dragged the group of Revenants around so they could stay within a decent range for accuracy, and now they were watching Erik with alarm.
"The Spectre can be forced out with pure mana," Reivyn called over. "I'll pump my mana into Eirk. Melissa, throw up some Ice Walls all around to box it in and prevent it from moving about. Then we can bombard it with magic to destroy it." The girls nodded while keeping their wide eyes on Erik.
The Spectre didn't throw Erik at an obstacle this time. Instead, after gaining full control of his body, Reivyn watched the Spectre lower Erik to the ground.
Reivyn was cautious about what the Spectre might have in mind, so he quickly made his way over in order to get his hands on Erik to force it out of him. Erik suddenly lifted his head and looked at Reivyn, a wide, manic grin on his face.
Reivyn's stomach dropped once more as he realized the positioning he and everyone else was in. Erik's head turned to face the girls, Reivyn just a few feet off to the side. He instinctively knew he wouldn't be able to make it to Erik before the Spectre did what it had planned, and based on intuition and his Danger Sense, Reivyn Charged at the girls.
Reivyn arrived a fraction of a second ahead of Erik's charge, and he shoved the three girls out of the way with his body. Indignant squawks entered his ears as Erik's shield slammed into him, and he went sailing through the air.
Reivyn had time for one final thought as he saw where he was heading.
His body plopped down into the bubbling pit with a splash.