Chapter 135: Back into the Storm

 

After making her way into the deepest level of my dungeon Hecate fled in what I assume is a chance to rest up and recuperate her losses. I meanwhile am not letting the extra time go to waste trying to come up with ways to stop Hecate from killing us.

It is also clear to us that any type of long distance teleportation or communication has been blocked, and we won’t be able to receive any outside help without leaving the dungeon ourselves. Zoey then volunteered to do just that, and we decided to come up with a plan.

While we try to hold Hecate off here at the dungeon, we are going to send several groups out to try to get in contact with Madam Erin that way. Their safety however is a big concern, so I am more than a little worried especially when two of my boss monsters are going to be ones that are going.

“Zoey, I know you have your own personal armor, but the demi-humans that Hecate brought with her left behind quite a few mythril armors, and I would feel a lot more comfortable if you wore one of them. Is that alright?”

Zoey: “Mythril?! Damn right it is alright! I love the armor you made for me boss, but let’s face it, it’s not mythril!”

“That bow that Azami made you is still your best bet, but you can take two of the mythril swords for back up as well. What about you Azami, I wouldn’t want to hinder you passing through the forest, but I would feel far more comfortable if you had a bit more protection.”

Azami: “Mythril is the peak of Elven crafting, and although I am not much for armor myself, if you insist I wear armor I will accept under those conditions only. However if you wish that I continue to wear armor from now on I must insist that once I am capable of making mythril myself, that I be allowed to make my own to my own specifications.”

Zoey: “Awe, that’s not fair, if everyone gets mythril armor, then it’s not as special that I have some…”

“Well I am sorry Zoey, but several of the groups out gathering xp, have been using mythril, and that red metal that is equal quality to mythril from Shima for a while now…”

Zoey: “What?! But you promised me I would get to be the first one of your monsters to wear mythril!”

“That was a long time ago, and you know I lost most of my memories…”

Zoey: “But you knew you did make the promise and that it was a long time ago, so you do remember!”

“Every minute counts right now, so if you don’t want it…”

Zoey: “I’ll take it!”

I let Zoey use [Menu] to equip one of the armors we gathered from the fallen demi-humans, and we separate the communication parchment to Madam Erin into three pieces and hand one of them to Zoey. After she gives Roxy a kiss she then has a sly smile on her face.

Zoey: “I get a head start!” –Without another word she transfers from the dungeon core room to the edge of the trail on the outskirts of the dungeon and disappears down one of the hunter trails.-

Roxy: “I don’t know what I am going to do with her…”

“Alright Azami, pick yourself out one of the armors as well, and you can get to it as well.”

With the exception of the werewolf, the dragon-like demi human, and one or two others, the armors will fit anyone once equipped with [Menu], but out of all the available armors she chooses the one that the single elf from Hecate’s group wore.

It doesn’t look much different to me, but maybe there is something to the design that is more pleasing to an elf, but in any case it was the one she wanted so it is fine with me. After giving her another section of the communication parchment she to transfers, and disappears into the forest.

Now all we have left is the monster to send over the mountain and forest. I am not sure how well the swan beastkin can fly, I have seen Sigrun demonstrating for the Mage’s Guild a few times, but I don’t know how long they can fly.

I know Roc is a far more capable flier, but out of the armors we acquired an avian might only be able to wear the one the dragon-like demi-human wore, and that is still a toss-up. It will only be a level 1 monster so regardless if it is wearing mythril armor or not, if it is attacked it probably won’t make it.

If it does have to enter Madam Erin’s dungeon though, a swan beastkin would probably be able to accomplish it far easier then one of the more demi-human looking Avians. In the end I am just wasting time thinking so hard about it, so I decide to go with the swan beastkin.

I summon a young male swan beastkin. I leave his appearance up to chance, and even as a male he has long white hair reaching to the point in which is wings protrude from his back. He is also quite muscular, but I was focusing on him to be able to maintain flight for extended periods, so could be the reason.

I remember Logan thinking Sigrun was some sort of angel, and this beastkin would definitely fit the bill as well. I summon and equip him in some clothing, but I am still unsure if I should give him armor. Even when he asks me what I wish of him, his voice is strong yet very melodious, just adding to the angel like vibe. Maybe that is the way all swan beastkin are.

After speaking with him for a minute the question regarding the armor answers itself. He could wear the armor if need be, but maintain flight for any extended period of time would be out of the question with his current strength.

Belinda gives him the name Sorin, and after we give him the last section of the communication parchment for Madam Erin, and are sure he knows what we need him to do we transfer him outside, and watch him take flight.

Roxy: “Lilah is going to be disappointed she slept through his summoning, beautiful isn’t exactly a word you often use when describing a man, but if there ever was a beautiful man…”

“Now that we have that taken care of, we should focus on what we can do to stop Hecate.”

When Hecate returns she is likely to not return to the higher floors, so there isn’t much reason to try to restrict the mages and normal adventurers from entering. I think the more we can keep the people of Tobes oblivious to what is going on right now the better. So it isn’t long until the first set of mages enters the dungeon and the twins quickly jolt out of bed.

They got the most sleep from anyone yet they still look rather dissatisfied while moving over to their positions to keep an eye on the mages. I continue to work on the dungeon, and shortly after a second group enters Leila joins them as well.

After a while Lilah is the only one still asleep, but Hecate hasn’t returned and I have about done all I can in the dungeon for now, so I decide to rest a little as well.

I don’t know how long I was asleep, but it doesn’t feel like it was near long enough when I am awoken by Lilah. I was tired, but far from exhausted when I went to sleep, but after being woke up it feels like it did more harm than good.

Lilah: “Master, she is back!”

Belinda is lying next to me in the bed, and it looks like she went back to sleep, so I try to crawl out of bed without waking her and return to monitoring the dungeon.

The way most of the rooms on this floor might work well against most adventurers, but Hecate’s ability to use [Blink] gives her quite the edge. Avoiding the uneven floor she is moving along one of the raised platforms easily eradicating the orcs as she passes.

At least she appears to still be alone, so maybe the demi-humans were the last bit of help she had. If that is the case even if she does fly through this floor maybe we can hold her off at the last 2 rooms until Zoey or the others are able to get help.

Avoiding the majority of the monsters on the ground when Hecate reaches the end of the platform she quickly retreats though the door entering the next room. If we do make it through this encounter alive, it will provide great insight on changes to make.

Instead of rectangular with the raised platforms running the entire length of the room, this room is a far larger square room with smaller platforms only on part of the wall on each side. Even if it wasn’t for that, skipping this room would be far harder for Hecate to accomplish, because this is the room the feathered serpent is in.

Not only it, but in the room Hecate lost her dragon friend, was the room I originally placed the minotaur, but as I doubled down on the ogres I thought the minotaur would be best used elsewhere, so here he is blocking the door at the far end of the room along with the feathered serpent that is circling overhead.

Hecate looks far from surprised this time and quickly draws a line in the air casting [Shadow Pocket], and pulling out a bow. When facing off against the phoenix and the griffon, she simply waited for the creature to move in to attack, and counterattacked in turn, but now she preemptively fires arrows at the feathered serpent.

The feathered serpent is quite quick, and is not an easy target to hit, but Hecate fires the arrows one after another so quickly, it is impossible for the feathered serpent to dodge them all. The feathered serpent is completely on the defensive unable to take a chance to attack, but the orcs and minotaur in the room aren’t just going to wait around for her to drop the feathered serpent.

I always knew the orcs on this floor is a bit of a waste, but after the orcs evolutions was the ogres and trolls, and neither of them can use bows or magic, so they were the best I had.  Without Hecate stepping further into the room for the orcs to reach her with magic or bows is truly at their limits, so from the time they attack and the arrows or spells reach her, she can easily dodge.

The minotaur isn’t much better, because as the room is like a bowl, so without Hecate moving further into the room, as the minotaur approaches her she has the high ground. Hecate doesn’t quit firing arrows at the feathered serpent until the minotaur is right up on her, and she just drops the bow pulling her thin blade and begins attacking the minotaur.

Just with a simple bow, Hecate was able to deal quite a bit of damage to the feathered serpent, but now that the arrows are no longer keeping it busy it can move in as well. Hecate doesn’t seem to care that she had high ground over the minotaur as it swings it huge axe at her she dodges past it heading toward the center of the room.

The minotaur turns and begins to barrel down after her, and the feathered serpent closes in from straight above, and even the orcs now have a better advantage now, but Hecate finally uses [Dark Arcana Blade]

The orcs are able to take cover behind the half wall on their platforms, but minotaur and feathered serpent are not near as lucky. The attack doesn’t drop either of them, but feathered serpent is now just barely hanging on and the minotaur is already in bad shape.

I would like to say they put up a good fight after that, but I would have to lie through my teeth. Even between both creatures that cost 50,000xp they didn’t even serve as a decent distraction for Hecate. After they both fall she doesn’t even bother with the orcs as they continue to their attacks until she picks the bow back off the floor storing it away with [Shadow Pocket], and exiting the room.

I can’t say she will have any more trouble with the next room as well. Not only does she seem to be taking less damage then before her rest, but she seems far more determined now as well. At this point all I can do is throw the large monsters at her in hopes it will slow her down long enough for help to arrive.

The next room is a lot smaller, and has two minotaurs in it, but the snipers roost is pretty much pointless against Hecate. The snipers roost provides several pillars for the minotuars to use as a bit of cover, so they actually fair quite a bit better than the other minotaur and the feathered serpent, but not by much.

She seems heavily debating about going through any of the side doors or pushing straight forward. In the end I don’t know if it is out of curiosity or just hopes of not missing any key like items she heads though one of the side doors.

It just leads to more trolls and more doorways, but she systematically checks them all. Between the hallway on either side and the two additional rooms on each side it takes her close to an hour before she clears out all 6 areas.

All the other floors of the dungeon have had treasure chests and the like around the floor, and back when the she was getting help from the adventurers they raided them, but other than the single magic stone enhanced weapon she took, she has only taken a handful of magic stones.

As adventurers haven’t gotten near this floor as of yet we haven’t bothered with any chests on this floor, and although she never took much from them Hecate always checked every one in what I assumed was just searching for key like items.

Now that there isn’t any chests however she almost seems aggravated at that the rooms hold nothing but monsters. After clearing the side rooms of trolls, she continues forward into the next hallway with several more trolls.

After disposing of the trolls she looks at the three available doors and chooses the center one. I guess she is still making sure no key like items remain as this is the only path that doesn’t lead forward. After another narrow room with the tougher merciless trolls inside she enters the very small triangle shaped room.

This however seems to baffle her, and she spends an exceedingly long amount of time checking every nook and cranny of this tiny room looking for something hidden. I did try to place the switch to the door that had access to the crystal in the room when I first built the floor, but [Menu] wouldn’t let me place the switch outside of the room.

It never let me set the switch so even if some sort of magic led her here it couldn’t possibly because of the switch could it? It is rather strange this tiny triangle shaped room with nothing in it is holding her back far more than any monster has…

After cursing everything from the room, to me, and well everything in existence she finally decides to backtrack to check the other rooms. After a handful more of the tougher trolls she then enters the Y shaped hallway.

Again the main feature of the Y hallway is limiting the movement of the adventurers, with a very steep grade into the floor leading up. The orcs above dump the oil and the orc magi lights it on fire. This doesn’t faze Hecate, because she just uses [Blink] to reach the platform and kills the orcs.

She then looks back at the Y shaped hallway and has seemed to come to a realization, and at the same time I am starting to see just how the magic leading her though the dungeon operates. The small triangle room fits right into the top of the Y, and making them both separate rooms was pointless because together they didn’t even use the max amount of space for a single room.

When I built it I made a single room and then just added walls. However Hecate’s magic that is leading her through the dungeon must have been directing her through the wall in the triangle room instead of it being a dead end.

If there are others out there that use this same ability we are going to have to use more setups like this in the future to throw them off. That is only of course if we make it out of this situation alive, but if I am right, she is surely going to have more hell with the final room then I thought.

When I built this floor the next room was the end of the line, but with the switches not working the way I wanted them too I added more when we learned of the incoming attack. There are no large monsters in this room, and only the orcs on platforms that don’t even serve as a nuisance to Hecate.

However the one thing this room does have plenty of is traps. Entering the room there is a very steep grade with everything leading to the center of the room.  The grade is as slick as I can possibly make it, and there are spike traps and the like for the unexpecting adventurer to crash into as they slide down the grade.

Even Hecate isn’t immune to the slick surface, but she handles it without losing her balance, avoiding the traps as she slides down to the center of the room. The entire time the orcs are flinging arrows and spells at her, but she avoids them as easily as the traps.

An obvious place for a trap is right in the center of the room where everything meets, but it doesn’t seem to bother her as she heads straight for it.

I have wondered since she has entered the dungeon. I don’t use many traps and in the upper floors of the dungeon the adventurer’s guild has those ones all mapped out, so when they avoided them I didn’t think much of it.

The runic traps however are all new, and Hecate’s group has set off quite a few of them. That isn’t to say they have avoided all of the normal [Menu] placed traps either, like the one that filled the room with water, it seemed to catch her off guard as well.

But that leaves another question, I learned how to make that trap because of the runic tinkering, so maybe the traps I learn that way and the runic traps are not detectable by trap finding skills. In any case the moment she hits the center of the room, she seems quite surprised when she is propelled into the air by a massive gust of wind.

Normally that would give the orcs plenty of chances to take free shots at the adventurers trapped within, but once the initial shock of getting tossed in the air passes Hecate, she quickly and calmly uses [Blink] to reach one of the platforms.

She then quickly ends the orc’s lives and finds the switches for the doors. I was right to not rely on this first attempt, because it doesn’t take her 5 minutes to pile orc corpses on the three switches opening the door for her to continue on.

When Hecate enters the room, she has the same look of confusion on her face that Lilah did when I first made it. Massive doesn’t even begin to describe the size of this room, but that isn’t what Hecate sees, because although I made a room that cost the price of 50 rooms, I made a massive labyrinth of passages, tunnels, and stairs throughout the entire thing.

Lilah made the argument, I could have made 50 smaller rooms, because as it stands even in the farthest reaches of the room rift monsters will be unable to spawn just because Hecate is standing at the entrance.

With over 100 smaller hallways and rooms through the labyrinth, and even extending over two levels in height she has a point, but not only do I have an answer to that, I also have a reason for making it only a single room.

What lies directly in front of Hecate is a huge thick door held closed by 10 metal bars running through a large metal disc at the center preventing the door from opening unless every bar is removed. Each bar of course is only removed while a switch has been pressed, and as the switches have to be in the same room as the mechanism, that was the reason for the massive singular room.

I was going to place far more, but 10 seemed to be the limit, it didn’t stop me from placing close to 200 switches throughout the labyrinth however, and as for the limits to the monsters? Like the dungeon core training rooms there are 20 smaller rooms in which monsters and rifts can be placed that can enter the labyrinth.

In all dungeons rift monsters can pass between rooms as long as it is on the same floor, but to do so they have to be directed to do so. Most dungeons don’t even direct their monsters at all, so they only put the rifts in each room, but our dungeon doesn’t have that problem.

Now even out of the 200 switches, if Hecate manages to find the correct 10, she still has to find a way to have them all pressed simultaneously while accessing the door, and the corpse thing won’t work this time, because even if the rifts are exhausted I just have to summon another monster in one of the side rooms and direct it to the switch and remove the corpse from it.

That means the weakest possible group that can reach my crystal will have to contain at least 11 members that are each strong enough to battle with the strongest of my monsters all on their own while holding the switch.

As for Hecate, if the magic telling her how to get through my dungeon works like I think it does, it should be telling her to go through the door straight in front of her, and gives her no hints on how to tackle the labyrinth. That does seem to be the case, because after examining the door, and even trying to break the bars holding the door closed she looks confused in which path to take.

I don’t have the option in my dungeon to make things breakable like a normal dungeon. Now items that are summoned can be broken, and a few traps and switches that say they can break, but even the most flimsy of wooden doors cannot be broken within my dungeon.

I don’t know if that can be changed, but at least it seems to be beyond Hecate’s ability, so unless she can find all 10 switches and press them all at the same time, my crystal is sure to be safe from her.

She battles though several trolls and finds the first switch quite proud of herself, and after confirming it isn’t a trap she presses it and returns to the main room to check the door. That of course was not one of the switches for the bar, but to throw her off further when she returns one of my other monsters had removed the corpse from the switch.

Now there is no way for Hecate alone to determine if that switch even was a fake or not. She seems to realize this as well as she passes by the switch on her way to continue on into the labyrinth. She quickly looks around to see who moved the corpse.

After no monsters show themselves she curses out loud, and then says. “Alright you little bastard, if that is the way you want to do it.” –After casting [Gate] she disappears from the dungeon.-

Lilah: “Where does Master think she went?”

“I am sure she went to get more help.”

Lilah and I then wait for her return, after a while we start to wonder if she is going to come back…

Lilah: “It’s been 30 minutes. Maybe she gave up.”

“I highly doubt it, but she might not have anyone to bring. Remember, she was Maric’s boss monster, so it is possible most of the creatures she knows were Maric’s monsters so they are now gone. With the amount of adventurers she went through yesterday there can’t be many more like them around either.”

Lilah: “Maybe she won’t be able to find any and then she will give up and leave us alone.”

“We could only hope…”

Even if Hecate does return with a great deal more people, if they aren’t between that dragon and Hecate’s own strength, then I still think we will be able to hold her off, so there is nothing else for us to do but wait.

And we wait…

Lilah: “Master, she is coming back right?”

“She surely didn’t give up that easily.”

Lilah: “Maybe Zoey got through to Madam Erin, and she stopped her?”

“Unless whatever is blocking our communication is limited to just our surrounding area I doubt it, because Zoey can’t even be out of Gowen Kingdom yet.”

I don’t know if you would consider it lucky or unlucky, but it isn’t till just after noon till we see the gate appear inside the labyrinth like room. This time the portal size is huge, and along with Hecate at least 20 others exit the portal behind her.

When Hecate used the adventurers they were all of common races like humans and beastkin, and when she used the demi-humans the most normal thing among them was an elf, but now? Everything about the ones she brought along this time is quite strange.

I don’t know if it is just a grab bag of whatever she could find or what, but even though there are plenty of humans, and beastkin among the group there are also demi-humans and straight up monsters among them one of which is a giant horse like bird similar to a griffon.

Not only does the equipment that the humanoids differ by a huge degree, their attitude in being here seems to differ quite a bit as well.

Human Woman: “This doesn’t look so bad, by the way you described it, I would have thought we would have been attacked by a dragon as soon as we arrived.”

Hecate: “The hallways are quite a bit smaller here, but I still don’t know what he has in store. I have killed a number of merciless trolls already, so I wouldn’t expect anything less than that.”

Beastkin Man: “I thought Maric trained you far better than to be scarred of a few little trolls.”

Hecate: “I already explained to you! It isn’t the combat that is an issue, it’s this damn door, I can’t get though it alone and now that Maric is dead my pickings are rather slim when it comes to those I can get to assist me.”

Demi-human man: “I am just glad I can return to favor to you and Master Maric, and after this is done, if you need a place to stay…”

Human Man: “She isn’t going to sleep with your scaly ass, so just give it up already. What happened to Maric sucks, but you better make this worth my time, like you promised.”

Hecate: “As long as you do as I say I promise you can keep whatever you find. Now you know as well as I do if this door is held by switches they all have to be in a single room, so let’s get to it, and we can have you back home by nightfall.”

All the sentient appearing members of the group then start to fan out into the labyrinth, but the monsters seem to be awaiting orders. Taking the monsters with her, Hecate proceeds into the labyrinth as well.

I don’t know where Hecate scrounged up these people and monsters, but it looks like now the labyrinth will really be put to the test.

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