Prof was promised a bear as the Boss, but he found a raccoon – his frustration wasn’t due to some miss-translation, since in Bergian and his own language from Earth a raccoon was called a “Washing Bear”, but the fact that a cute little raccoon was the Boss. You simply don’t put raccoons as final Bosses into a dungeon. Some rare undead? Sure! A murder-tree? No problem. A manticore? Please. Something strong, threatening and blood-thirsty? That’s the definition! A raccoon was neither.
The raccoon stopped cleaning and watched Prof’s approach with interest. Prof walked carefully, testing the ground at each step, his gaze drooping here and there, looking for mushrooms, tendrils, pitfalls, whatnot. He was only a meter or two away from the laundry-service-bear, and was already beginning to believe that a simple fight was finally ahead of him as the furry little bugger jumped up, ran between Prof's legs, spun, and jumped onto his back. Prof reflexively wanted to strike back with his longer axe, but he realized in time that he would have a good chance of hitting himself and held back his attack.
Meanwhile, the raccoon climbed on his helmet and tried to scratch Prof's face with its two front paws. Yelling, Prof let his weapons fall and tried to catch or at least shake off the furry predator. When he finally managed to catch it, the little bastard bit his left hand and didn't let go. Prof tried to shake him off or hit the ground with it. In the upper arch of one of these attempts, the raccoon let go of his hand, performed a beautiful somersault, and clung to Prof's back again.
Prof now didn’t allow it to climb back on his head, but immediately threw himself on the ground and turned himself on his back. The raccoon deftly avoided the press and tried to reach the head again, running up on Prof's belly. Prof learned from a classic film and shielding his face with his left hand, searched for his knife with the right. The hairy little face-hugger somehow clung to Prof's armour with its hind legs, and with his front paws he rained a storm of attacks on the defending arm and Prof's neck.
It took Prof the time to fish out the knife as he lay on it, but in the end he managed to move so that he could pull it out. He grinned as he tried to stab his opponent, but after the first hit, the raccoon jumped off and ran to the room’s wall. Watching the fur-ball, Prof scrambled to his feet and accidentally found his right-handed axe. He walked slowly toward the raccoon, ready to strike if the nimble little animal wanted to sprint again.
And indeed, as Prof arrived a meter or two away from it, the teddy bear wannabe tried its previous trick and tried to run through between Prof's legs. Prof smashed down, and as a result of the hit, the raccoon interrupted the attack and ran to one of the room’s walls. Prof followed slowly, and the former situation repeated itself: as soon as Prof was a meter or two away, the raccoon rushed over and tried to run between Prof's legs.
This time it did succeed, but Prof was prepared for the teddy bear to play face-hugger again, spun around and hit his opponent while jumping.
The dance continued for another quarter of an hour, Prof approached the raccoon, it tried to run between his legs to jump on his back, and if it failed, it ran to the opposite wall and it all started all over again. Although Prof could almost always prevent the teddy bear from jumping on his back - the only time he failed to do so he tried to hit his opponent hanging on his helmet with a knife, which ran again after the first hit - he could barely make a hit on his own.
Prof began to get tired when, in one of the charges, he was not only able to prevent the running and bouncing around, but was finally able to achieve a spectacular critical hit: the raccoon flew back against the wall and was visibly stunned for a few moments. Prof didn't hesitate, he jumped in and released a flood of attacks on the fur-ball. He cut off its head with his last blow, and so the Boss of the dungeon ended his career - at least against Prof.
Although Prof planned to skin the raccoon and let someone make a fashionable collar for himself, he had to realize that the fur was ruined during the fight. It was a pity. After a short rest, Prof set out to search the room. The weed that he saw in the grass turned out to be the herb he was looking for, and on closer inspection Prof recognized it — he didn't remember what its name was and what it was used for, but he knew for sure that he had previously an encounter with it.
Unfortunately, he could only collect four portions in the whole room, but according to his calculations, this also meant a value of at least about ten silver. Apparently there was no other value in the room, so Prof set out to look around the previously undiscovered passages of the maze when, in the absence of a better word, his Scavenger Perk began tingling.
Searching near the stone tub, he found the object that the raccoon had initially cleaning, fallen into a small fissure: a five-centimeter, silver-plated bronze statue of a proud, fully-armoured warrior. Prof immediately recognised that this figure also belonged to the same set of game-pieces as the one found in the previous dungeon. As he put it away, he wondered why there were such figures in the dungeons, exactly what game they belonged to, and how many additional figures the set consisted of. The thought didn't even end when the red exclamation mark began to flash:
During your adventures, you found some figures belonging to a mysterious and priceless game. Collect the entire set, the game board, and the description of the rules of the game! Game on!
Discovered so far: 2/48 figure, 0/4 board, 0/2 rule
That was interesting. A System-generated Quest – he haven’t even heard of such, there was no quest-log anywhere on his Parchment, he had to write down every little task into his note-book. As far as he could tell, there was no Quest System implemented on Arkadia, and he still got a quest? Directly from the System for dungeon-loot?
The other thing was, that he haven’t heard about a “mysterious and priceless game” either that was somehow connected to the System and dungeons. Smallgrovewell wasn’t the center of the multiverse, but he had some suspicions, that if a System-generated Quest and “mysterious and priceless” loot existed, even the folks in the village would have heard about it. And finally: why did he receive the Quest after finding the second figurine, and not after the first one?
Interesting wasn’t the correct word, strange was better. Prof decided to keep his eyes open for further pieces, but he wasn’t planning to go out of his way to collect them. Maybe he would ask around somewhere that was not the middle of an endless forest or a small village out in the great nowhere.
Done with the deliberations he set out to map the rest of the dungeon. As it turned out, the undiscovered part was quite easy: a few corridors leading to the known parts and a couple of dead ends. Prof was grateful for this, as he didn't have to deal with some ridiculous - but deadly - pet again, but was somewhat disappointed that he didn’t managed to find further loot. Even so, he still got pretty nice loot for his effort, even though he didn’t recognize the mushrooms and didn’t collect the different skins.
Not as good as the first dungeon, but still. Probably with the skins, meat and the mushrooms the end sum would even higher, but for that he had to get intel from somewhere else.
After leaving the dungeon tired and filthy, his first target was the spring. For the rest of the day, he scrubbed away the dirt, blood, and spores and who knows what that had accumulated during the dungeon from himself, his armour, and his clothes.
At least he tried.
As he suspected earlier, his pants were probably a total loss, probably not even someone with a high dedicated [Washing] Skill – yes, such existed – could get rid of all the filth. Why was it that in novels and games only durability degraded, but no one got dirty despite wading through knee-deep filth, blood and guts? This was like reality. Oh wait…
Reality was cruel.
If this continued, he would have to invest a lot of money into his wardrobe. For that to happen, he would need money, but money didn’t grow on trees, so he would have to ruin his clothing to earn money to buy clothing because his previous ones got ruined because he had to crawl through dungeons to earn money to buy new stuff.
A vicious, unending cycle.
He also rubbed disinfectant ointment into his skin to get rid of any remaining pollen, spores, or whatnot. Since Arkadia was real, it was probably not a good idea to leave dirt and unknown stuff near an open wound. That would be the best way to contract… things that made you sick and die horribly. No, thank you, Prof planned to live his new life a bit longer than a month or so. OK, dying because a skeleton bashed in his head or a Dire Something ate him was one thing, but microscopic, genocidal thingies another.
It was getting dark by the time he could spread his stuff out to dry in so he could finally have dinner by the campfire. He had at least one more day before Shinead returned, planning to spend that time doing nothing and laze around. Who knows when he'll have a chance again.