Chapter 166: The Marble Coffin

 

I am awoken by the gentle and seductive touch of my boss monster as she says. “Mother, it is almost time for your meeting.”

“How many times have I told you not to call me that? Especially with your condition.”

Elexia: “You will always be Mother to me.”

“Two-Twelve’s child seems to be no different than a human child. She doesn’t seem to be born with any knowledge like a typical dungeon core, so our child is going to be confused enough as it is without you making things more difficult.”

Elexia: “There will be no reason for her to be confused, this will all be normal to her.”

“That doesn’t change the fact I have asked you to quit calling me Mother.”

Elexia: “You will soon be late to your meeting, and we both know how impatient Dyson can get.”

“This conversation isn’t over.”

Elexia: “As you say, Mother.” –She says presenting me with a ring.-

After putting on the ring my body shrinks and Elexia dresses me in the simple dress. I transfer down to the portal room and use one to reach a small village in the middle of nowhere. I proceed to the tavern where I find Dyson in his own disguise.

Dyson: “I have far more important things to do then wait on you all day.”

“You mean like entertaining that succubus of yours?”

Dyson: “You are hardly one to talk.”

“We are in need of new dungeon cores, so I made one, that is all there is to it. Now is there a reason you wished to meet, or are you the one wasting my time?”

Dyson: “Have you heard of the developments with Two-Twelve’s little group?”

“He has returned?”

Dyson: “Not exactly. I still haven’t found out where he disappeared to, but he seems to have not only made Ceres into a Justicar, but also put her in charge of his group while he is away.”

“Then his disappearance was planned?”

Dyson: “He at least knew enough about it before hand to prepare and not only that but Ceres now as the ability to communicate the same way he did.”

“Just what is it they are planning…?”

 

○○○○○○

It has been a few days since I acquired my special skill, and I am starting to get used to the toll it takes when it drains me of half of my magic. We decided to hold the monsters I took possession of, out of harm’s way, until we build up quite a few of them.

So far I have two of the lich-like undead, two of the wraith-like undead, a hulking bone golem, and a particularly strong necromancer specter, which has a spell to heal the other undead monsters. However for some reason after taking possession of the monsters they seem weaker.

I don’t know the reason for it, but we can only assume that it is because the corrupt dungeon is doing something to the monsters bound to it. Since I seriously doubt we will encounter any sentient monsters here, we probably will never know for sure.

We can’t be sure how much of this dungeon is left, but Zoey and Azami are the only ones between Inari and my groups to have not reached level 50 yet. With the addition of all those special skills we have been making quite a bit more progress.

Takeshi acquired the [Unyielding Barrier] special skill that I have seen several times now, but now I have learned how it works. For half of Takeshi’s magic he forms a magic barrier that allows him to absorb damage. The barrier has an hp equal to the magic expelled, so it functions like adding 50% of his magic worth in extra hp.

He can only use the skill once per day, but the barrier lasts until it is completely depleted. He has managed to complete a day without completely losing the barrier, but when he used it the next day it didn’t add more hp on top of it, but reset it, so now he just drags the barrier out till it breaks before reusing the skill.

When I have seen others use it only lasted for a few seconds, so I don’t know if theirs functioned differently or it just goes to show much damage was dealt to them at that point in which they used it.

Between everyone’s different special skills there has been one reoccurring theme, and that it they almost all take 50% of the users max magic to use the skill. That would explain why Listel could only use her [Dark Arcana Blade] once every so often, but I don’t see how others like Hecate were able to use their special skills one after another…

Satoshi received a skill that boosts his abilities like Inari’s does, but it doesn’t change his appearance and I don’t think it is quite as strong. Its duration can last for the entire battle so it balances itself off I guess.

Saki received a skill that is similar to the sun like skill that Rosalinda used, except Saki’s is nowhere near as strong and it deals light-type damage. It doesn’t affect us, but she has to be careful when she uses it because the undead I have taken possession of take damage just being near it.

Chika’s skill surrounds enemies in spears of light that pierce their targets all at once, I don’t know if they do actual light-type damage though because it doesn’t seem nearly as effective as Saki’s skill. It can be used to wipe out an entire group of Oni Generals in one go though, so maybe it is just meant to attack larger groups.

Hotaru’s skill is the only one that doesn’t cost 50% of her magic, but allows her to store 50% of her magic worth of spells like you would in magic stones. The only difference is she doesn’t have to carry around the stones and she can release them at will, even all at once if she wanted.

Inari’s skill boosts her abilities evenly, and her change in appearance is fluid. Satoshi’s appearance doesn’t change but his abilities are boosted evenly as well. Rin’s skill however…Her appearance changes almost like a werewolf transformation with the boost to her abilities all being towards her strength, agility, and endurance. There isn’t duration to how long she can hold that form, but the longer she holds it the more strain it seems to put on her mind and body.

Akihiro is sort of a jack-of-all-trades kind of person, and his skill isn’t any different. Depending on what type of weapon he is currently using, or role he is filling in the group causes his skill to have different effects.

A defensive role makes Akihiro’s skill work similarly to [Unyielding Barrier] only weaker, but if he is fighting offensively, depending on the type of weapon he is currently using, it could be a series of smaller technique like attacks, or a single massive blow. Either way it seems way more versatile then the other’s special skills, but not near as powerful.

As for my own monsters, Poppy also receives the [Unyielding Barrier] skill, and Lynx received the [Empowering Spirit] skill that works just like Satoshi’s skill. Satoshi’s skill is in the Shima language, but I am told that translated it is comparable to [Empowering Spirit] so they could be the same skill as well.

All of Inari’s monsters have skills in the Shima language except Takeshi and Inari herself, but that could just be due to the fact they were both born in my dungeon. That leaves me to wonder though, because Takeshi was born with the knowledge as if he was summoned in Shima, and he is Inari’s monster now, so why was his not at least the Shima version of [Unyielding Barrier]?

I guess it doesn’t really matter. I have been able to take several Shima versions of normal skills that I already knew, so it would be nice to learn both versions of the special skills. These special skills however don’t work quite the same way.

I wasn’t able to learn Mariam’s special skill after I killed him, so I don’t even know if I will be able to copy [Unyielding Barrier] from Poppy or [Empowering Spirit] from Lynx after returning home either.

After a few more days in this seemingly endless mausoleum Zoey finally reaches level 50. Azami and her are very close in xp, but due to Azami’s studying to learn to craft mythril she took a few less trips to train in Shima then Zoey did, but at this pace it won’t be but a day or two more before she reaches level 50 as well.

As for Zoey’s special skill, she acquired a skill called [Bombardment] that rains down magical arrows, which explode on impact, over a wide enough area that she has yet to spread it out to its max. There does seem to create the same amount of the arrows regardless of its size, so the smaller the area the more damage it does within it.

My own special skill has allowed our group to gather quite a few undead, and things are starting to get progressively easier, until we come to an area that is much different than any we have come to so far. The area opens up into a large open area with decretive pillars and stairs.

The mausoleum has been lined with small tombs and coffins, but all we investigated either housed undead monsters, items, or nothing at all. This room however looks like a single massive tomb, but it resembles more of a throne room, with a few coffins to the sides but a massive marble coffin at the head of the room.

Chika: “Is this it?”

Inari: “I don’t see a crystal.”

“That doesn’t mean it isn’t in that coffin up there, but don’t let your guard down. If we are getting close then it will surely be well guarded.”

We precede though the room with caution, but it isn’t long before all the coffins except the large marble one burst open revealing quite a few different types of undead. We have encountered all these types of undead already, but these ones seem to be quite stronger each wearing its own unique armor and weapons.

Inari holds off using her special skill till we find out just what we are getting into, while I send in the undead monsters at my disposal. Even though some of the undead look to be the same types, the enemy undead destroy mine in almost an instant.

I hate to use it right off the bat, but if the other undead were so powerless against them, then this is going to be a tough fight, so I use my own special skill targeting the toughest, or at least best equipped undead.

While I do that everyone else moves forward. We then quickly use spells to form walls to separate the undead, but they are even worse than the scorpion monstrosities, breaking the walls instantly. After smashing the walls two of the enemy undead quickly targets the one I took possession of, so I don’t know how long it will be able to hold out against them.

There were six of them to start with, so that still leaves three to deal with, so hopefully it can hold out at least until we can cut down their numbers even further. Takeshi quickly jumps forward to parry a blow from the undead.

As their weapons collide you can quickly tell Takeshi is at the disadvantage and he has to give his all to not be instantly crushed by the undead. Within seconds he quickly calls out [Unyielding Barrier]. He still had half of his barrier left from the earlier fights, so to use the skill that quickly after this battle started is not a good sign.

I quickly begin casting spells targeted at the undead while trying to use my shield to aid the others, but the first time I try to block a blow with it, I can do nothing to hold the shield’s position as it slams into Poppy.

It prevented the blade of the weapon from the undead to hit her but the force of the impact from my shield alone is enough to knock her some twenty feet back and to the ground. It doesn’t keep her down though because she instantly jumps back to her feet rushing to rejoin the ranks.

Saki quickly uses her own special skill after calling out the command she replaces the head of one of the undead monsters with a large ball of burning light. That tactic as dealt with every type of undead we have encountered so far, but even though you can’t see the monsters head anymore it still doesn’t relent on its attacks.

One after another the commands of the special skills are being called out, and yet we have still been unable to drop a single one of the Madam Erin sized undead warriors. Magic is then quickly preserved for the use of healing, while we try to use regular attacks to hold off and bring them down.

Shards of light keep breaking off of Saki’s burning ball of light piercing the undead, until it gets small enough that the undead’s head reveals itself again. Unlike Vetala these monsters cannot be mistaken for anything other than undead, but as far as undead go their flesh is in rather good shape. When Saki’s special skill dissipates over the undead’s head the only thing that remains is a bloody skull.

At first I thought the skill stripped away the flesh, but after a few seconds I realize the skull isn’t bloody at all, but is instead made from that reddish Shima metal that Inari’s entire group uses. Missing the flesh from its metallic head doesn’t seem to bother any as it never skips a beat on its attacks.

Separated into multiple groups is making things look pretty grim. We still haven’t suffered any major damage, but we have all used our special skills, so we are already way under halfway in our magic, and we still haven’t killed a single one of these things.

The undead I took possession of is also starting to look to be in bad shape with entire chunks of its flesh removed exposing the metallic skeleton underneath. If those two join this battle we really will be in bad shape.

Inari seems to understand the predicament we are in because she quickly says. “Satoshi, I don’t care how much magic you have to transfer, but give Daddy whatever he needs to allow him to use his skill again!”

I quickly take Satoshi’s place in the front lines, while he places his hand on my shoulder and I begin to feel refreshed. I have already used quite a few spells after taking possession of the undead, so it is going to take Satoshi quite a while to transfer enough mp, if he even has enough magic to transfer.

Trying to block a blow with my shield using the shield’s telekinesis is pointless, and I can’t afford to use any magic, so take my sword in one hand and the shield in the other while trying to hold off one of the undead.

Fighting like this isn’t really my style especially while trying to keep in contact with Satoshi, but removing the flesh from this things skull has seemed to make it more sluggish then the rest of the undead. Either that or we have done a bit more damage to it than we originally thought.

As Satoshi transfers magic to me we just continue to try to hold of the undead with. There are four of us to each undead, but with that we are barely holding ground, if either of the undead attacking the one I took control of breaks off to attack us, we won’t be able to hold any longer.

Satoshi seems to be starting to struggle as he continues to transfer me his magic, but I am still a long ways away from recovering half of my magic, so I say.  “We have to retreat! Worst case scenario we try to bottle neck them in the doorway, but Satoshi is going to pass out before I recover enough magic!”

We quickly start to back off, but as we start to approach the exit to room a wall forms over the door. The walls formed behind us in the cavern, but never within our view, and since we entered the mausoleum we haven’t been blocked off since, so the sudden closure of our path is a bit startling.

I quickly hit the sealed off door with my sword, but nothing happens, and the only thing we managed to do was back ourselves against the wall. Things then quickly take a turn for the worse when the undead I took control of collapses to the floor.

“Inari, you must get to that marble coffin, if the crystal is inside it that is our only chance.”

Inari: “With my help we can barely hold off three, how do you expect to hold of five of them?”

“We will all split up, only those who are not being targeted will attack. The ones that are being targeted will just have to stay on the move!”

Inari nods, and then on my order we all jump, dive, and otherwise run like hell trying to split up the undead. It manages to work quite well, the room is quite large after all, but with the stairs, and condition of the room one misstep could prove deadly.

One of the undead targets me, another goes after Zoey, the third goes for Chika, the fourth goes for Takeshi, and the last goes for Inari. If she is going to have any chance getting into the marble coffin someone else is going to have to draw the attention of the undead off of her.

Azami hits the undead chasing me in the back of the head with spell drawing its attention off of me, so I chase after Inari. The undead quickly change targets several times, but no matter how hard I try to pull the undead’s attention off of Inari, it doesn’t seem to want to let her out of its sight.

Unless someone gets too tired to continue, or makes a mistake we might be able to slowly bring these things down, as I start to do damage to the one that continues to chase after Inari while completely ignoring me.

One of the others then breaks off from who it was chasing switching its target to me. “Fine if that is the way you want it.  Whoever isn’t being chased, get to that marble coffin!”

Takeshi, and Zoey are both free so they both rush towards the coffin but two of the undead chasing Inari and one chasing Poppy break off to guard the coffin itself.

“Alright everyone regroup, we will go back to plan A!”

We all come back together and start to attack the undead again, but the two guarding the coffin aren’t quick to leave it now. Once we start to stack up the damage against the three we are attacking, the other two leave the coffin to come after us as well. We then scatter again and repeat the process.

After we do that a few times the undead then just encircle the marble coffin, we take positions at a distance and start hitting them with ranged attacks, that causes them to only leave one of the undead to guard the coffin while the other four attack.

This is a much tougher fight, but even though we start to lose ground this way Inari breaks off to go after the coffin. She can’t take one of the undead on her own, Takeshi breaks off as well leaving us in really bad shape.

Between the two of them though they manage to distract the undead long enough to move half the lid off the coffin before the undead stop attacking us and head towards the coffin. Inari and Takeshi then have to retreat while the undead pushes the lid back in place.

That means we have to start the process all over again, but does give us more information as Inari says. “It’s not the crystal, but there is a tunnel inside of it. It would be a tight fit, but that also means these undead wouldn’t be able to follow us down, and if they do it would have to be one at a time.”

Chika: “That is if the dungeon doesn’t block off the path before we get to it…”

“I don’t think it can, or it already would have, but that isn’t even the best news.”

Inari: “What have you found out?”

“Nothing, but we have delayed long enough, [Archjusticar’s Retribution]!”

I target the undead that looks to have taken the least amount of damage, and this changes the battle completely. With only four of the undead they are unable to guard the coffin and attack at the same time, so they just defend the coffin.

Between the undead I took control of and us stacking up the damage from afar the enemy undead start dropping. When there is only one enemy undead left I leave it to my own undead while we remove the lid of the coffin.

The sound of the marble lid hitting the ground echoes through the room, the one remaining enemy undead tries to stop us, but at this point he is the one fighting the losing battle. We decide to take out the remaining undead before going down the tunnel, but quickly change our minds after one of the other undead that we already dealt with returns to its feet as its body quickly begins to regenerate.

“Time to go!”

We quickly start entering the tunnel and before we all make it through all of the undead except the first one I took control of has returned to its feet. I enter the tunnel last and my undead blocks the tunnel entrance. It doesn’t stand a chance against four other undead just like it, but we try to put as much ground between us and the undead as we can.

This tunnel is more like the cavern then the mausoleum with natural walls, and it is small we have to pass through it single file as it leads us to who knows where. We travel along the tunnel for a while before we realize the undead are not following us, so we decide to stop for a break.

Zoey: “Hey boss, I just realized. It has been several hours now since our last encounter with the Oni.”

“I have been wondering that myself. I was thankful when they didn’t show up during our fight back there, but now I am starting to wonder what that could mean.”

Inari: “They may have spawned just outside of that room of undead, and when it blocked that door off they could no longer get to us. The Oni in the last corrupt dungeon didn’t spawn at the crystal either, but it wasn’t far off from it.”

Chika: “We could be getting really close then.”

“Even more reason to get some rest before going forward.”

We then take turns catching a few hours of sleep, and for the first time since I have been coming to Shima the entire break goes without a single disturbance.

“I have grown use to the sound of combat while sleeping, so the silence actually woke me up a few times…”

Inari: “I know what you mean.”

The communication parchment between me and Belinda is all filled up, but I haven’t stopped writing to Belinda. She wasn’t receiving it anyway, so it was more to keep my mind occupied anyway, so after I finish writing we wake everyone else up and prepare to set out again.

We travel along this narrow tunnel for hours without even running into a single bug. With the types of bugs that have been in this dungeon though, I guess I will count that as a blessing. The tunnel itself is pretty dark so we are using small [Light] runic magic stones to give us a clear view was is going on, but we then see light flickering up ahead.

The dungeon knows we are here so I don’t know what good it will do, but we put away the runic magic stones and move forward cautiously as to not alert anything of our presence. As we get closer we can hear the sound of running water.

When we finally reach the end we find ourselves in a small wooded area, the trees are thick and covered in vines, but light filtering down through them, a small stream flows next to the mouth of the cave and it appears we have found an exit.

Inari: “All that for an exit…?”

“That can’t be right…” –I try to use [Blink] but it doesn’t work, and I figure it won’t work either, but I try sending a message to Belinda.- “No, it seems we are still in the dungeon.”

Inari: “It’s awfully convincing.”

“The question is why… So that we think we are outside and let our guard down? That can’t be it because if we were outside we would expect to be attacked by Oni, so what other purpose could this place hold?”

Inari: “Wait, the vines!” –She quickly casts a few fire spells attacking the vine covered trees.-

Trees collapse and the sound rings out, but the echoing sound returns to us confirming we are still underground. We wait for a few more minutes but none of the trees or vines make any kinds of movement.

Inari: “Now what kind of mess have we found ourselves in…?”

 

 

 

 

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