Chapter 180: Meeting Up

 

I woke up quite early this morning unable to get a decent rest with the heavy atmosphere. This is not the first time I slept in a dungeon, on the contrary I have spent most of my life sleeping in dungeons, and it’s the inns that usually make me uncomfortable.

I don’t know if that is because I was born from a dungeon myself, or just that is what I know, but this situation is quite different than the normal one.  We are with Master again, but it seems every time we travel with him the situation turns out like this.

Here we are, trapped in a dungeon, with no idea how to get out of this mess, but at least this time the monsters inside this dungeon are much easier to deal with, and not to mention the fact we have dozens of people with us this time.

From the sounds of it there are plenty of people that are already awake, in addition to the ones that took the final watch, so I finish putting on my gear and go to join them. It turns out there are a lot more people already awake then I expected. I guess I wasn’t the only one that had trouble sleeping.

Lynx: “You slept soundly as ever I see.”

“Really? I thought it was a rough night…”

Lynx: “Well you are the last one to wake up, so if that was a rough night, what kind of night did the rest of us have…?”

“Everyone else is up already?”

Lynx: “Even the ones from Inari’s dungeon are ready to go already.”

“I guess we shouldn’t keep them waiting, why don’t you gather everyone up while I find out our orders for the day.”

Lynx: “Done, and done. We are supposed to return to the second floor continuing our search there, and everyone is waiting on your word to move out.”

“You’re a godsend… What would I do without you?”

Lynx: “I would surmise not ever leaving bed, but if you really are appreciative maybe once we are out of here you can speak to Master about summoning a few more of my kind? I can’t exactly go to Dalian, can I, so it would be nice to not be alone…”

“You are not alone…”

Lynx: “You know what I mean.”

“Well we seldom have time off, but Master did say he wanted to be more mindful about giving us breaks, so with all the xp our group brings his dungeon, I don’t think it would hurt to at least ask.”

Lynx: “Thanks…”

“Of course, now, we should probably get started. I want to get out of this place as soon as possible.”

After Lynx and I returned with Master from helping Inari a few months ago our group had already gone back to gathering xp with others, and when we returned some already felt at home in their new groups.

Iris and Aster returned to our group so it has just been the four of us for the last few months so with the addition of the beastkin from Inari’s dungeon it feels nice to have a rounded group again.  Chika was with us when we were helping Master to save Inari, but as for the new guy, we haven’t really seen what he is capable of yet.

We fought alongside him with Master yesterday, and a bit on our own yesterday evening, but we still haven’t gotten into a tough scrape with him yet to know how dependable he is though.

“I know we all want to get out of here, but it is still quite early, and we might be stuck together for quite a while. If that is the cause I think while we work our way back up to the second floor we should get to know each other a bit better.”

Lynx: “Poppy, Aster, Iris, and I were all summoned at the same time by Master’s wife when he disappeared a few years ago, and with the exception of the time Poppy and I went with Master to help your Mistress, we have been together the entire time, gathering xp for Master’s dungeon.”

“Master’s wife summoned us at level 1, so we had to obtain all our levels from scratch. I don’t mean to say that since your Mistress summoned you at a higher level, that we are looking down on you or anything. I just want you to know how much we have been through together, so you know that you can count on us.”

Chika: “It has been a few months since I worked with Poppy and Lynx, but we been through quite a bit together, so if you two say I can trust and rely on Aster and Iris, then I believe it, and with that said even though Kazuki has only recently summoned I can guarantee he will not let you down either.”

Kazuki: “I admit I haven’t done battle with more than just hordes of Oni before now, but just know, I would sooner die then disappoint my Mistress, and my Mistress tasked me with working with you, so I will do it to the best of my abilities.”

“That’s all we ask, but it’s not only that. I mean, I would like to get to know you as a person as well. It has been a while since our group has gone to Shima, to train so I am sure our turn is coming up pretty soon. When we train we take it pretty seriously, but even we have to rest, so when we stop off to rest in your Mistress’s dungeon, it would be nice to have a few more friendly faces to talk to while we are there.”

Chika: “You guys know you are always welcome in the Mistress’s dungeon.”

“No, I know that, but for that reason alone it is a good idea to get better acquainted, don’t you think?”

Lynx: “This isn’t about what we spoke with earlier is it…?”

“Of course not!” –I quickly say then lean into whisper to Lynx.- “but you have to admit though he is kind of hot though…”

Lynx sighs and then whispers back to me. “Not that species compatibility matters with my preferences for other men, but even so, I don’t really find those with so little fur all that appealing to me…”

“Who says it’s about you?!” –I blurt out.- “You’re not the only one that feels alone sometimes!” –I then quickly realize I blurted that out loud where everyone can hear me and I quickly cover my mouth while blushing.-

Kazuki: “Uh…I’m sorry?”

I nervously laugh it off, after all if you don’t know Lynx is gay I guess the only part of my outburst that doesn’t look like I am talking just about friends, is the fact the conversation started in whispers… “N-No, I mean it’s nothing!… Everyone could stand to have a few more friends, right…?”

I am sure Aster and Iris saw right through me, and I am not too sure about Chika either, but Kazuki quickly steps forward taking one of my hands in both of his as he says. “You’re right! I return back to the Mistress’s dungeon every evening so I can only imagine how isolated you would begin to feel as a traveling adventurer, so I think it would be wonderful if we could be friends!”

Chika laughs and she says. “I should probably mention Kazuki is a lot like Takeshi, and Kazuki really looks up to him.”

Everyone then laughs while Kazuki seems a bit confused as he says. “Of course!” and he then starts singing praises about Takeshi… It is a bit of a awkward start first thing in the morning, but we still manage to make it to the second floor ahead of any of the other groups.

The second floor is not any harder today than it was yesterday, and even with Iris and Aster being 10 levels or so under the rest of us they could still probably handle these monsters on their own. With monsters like these I doubt any of the missing groups got held up by them, but we also need to see if we can find another exit, so we thoroughly examine each room after clearing it with monsters.

Not only are we looking for hidden switches, but breakable walls, or anything else we can think of that might lead to an exit. Even if a dungeon core was capable of sealing the entrance from their dungeon, that would make anything killed inside of it not give any xp, so I can’t see any dungeon core sealing off the entrance without at least a hidden one somewhere within the dungeon.

Then again if they are not interested in the xp, and are only worried about trapping and killing us it makes a bit more sense…But now I really wish I hadn’t thought of it that way. Even if they did just want to kill us throwing xp away by not at least having some sort of entrance would be completely illogical. Surely there has to be an exit somewhere, even if it is just cleverly hidden…

After a few hours we have checked over all the rooms on the second floor, often switching places with some of the of the other group so they can give the room a once over with a fresh set of eyes as well, after we are all thoroughly convinced that there is nothing on the second floor we then proceed to the third.

The third floor is only more of the same, the monsters are pointless, and the rooms are devoid of any secrets. We heard about another one of the Master’s groups arriving back at base, so that was a bit of a relief, but there are still plenty of groups still out there that are still missing.

After the third floor we move on to the fourth, but by the time we are done thoroughly searching that floor it is getting late enough we decide to head back to the base camp and call it a day. We have had so many groups going in and out each room that we finally have seemed to reach the end of the rift spawns, so heading back down takes no time at all.

Once we reach the ground we hear the sound of battle, and I am not talking about a group of adventurers fighting monsters, but like the clash of two armies! We quickly prepare and try to return to camp only to find ourselves cut off by a massive lizardman army between us and the basecamp.

Every inch of the room is full of lizardman as they press forward against the base camp. Quite a few of the stronger people stayed behind at the camp, but there is no way they could defend against all of these things at once.

It may be disadvantageous of us to attack them being cut off from the base camp, but can’t just leave them to fend for themselves either. Everyone else seems to agree so we quickly charge into battle.

 

○○○○○○

 

Master gave us orders to retreat, so that must mean this is just a normal dungeon, and not one that belongs to one of the traitors. We haven’t gathered enough xp in this trip to even consider it worth the break in our routine.

After becoming a A-Ranked adventurer I got several requests to destroy dungeons, and even though Master said he would take the proposals seriously, he has still yet to allow me claim a single one, so forgive me if I am a little mad over the fact that he is not only blocking me from becoming a hero, but he is even hindering our progress as well!

If you ask me he is just jealous we are doing so well. Once he got his first taste of power and exceeded the strength of the rest of his monsters, he wasn’t about to let that power go, and has been preventing us from passing him ever since!

Well, see if I care. If this dungeon isn’t one of the traitors, it is still a normal dungeon, so there is nothing wrong with a group of adventurers checking out a dungeon, am I right?!

“Alright everyone, we are going to continue pushing through on this dungeon.”

Chase: “Bandy, our orders were to retreat…”

Leonard: “I appreciate you saving me, but he is right, Two-Twelve told us to return to the staging area.”

“So he can continue to gather xp on his own I am sure. You can keep going if you want, but I am going to keep going.”

Bradford: “After everything we have been through together, Corrie and I are with you.”

Suzie: “Someone has to keep you out of trouble…”

Kit: “You produce the best results, and that’s the only reason I am still here, but this time Master’s orders were quite clear!”

“Fine with me, I am sure there are plenty of other people that would be willing to take your spot in our group.”

Chase: “Please reconsider Kit… Without you there is no one to keep the peace.”

Kit: “You could come with me, and Suzie as well, any of Master’s other monsters would be happy to have the three of us in their group.”

Suzie: “I’m sorry Kit. I am with Bandy on this one. We have only made it this far because of Bandy and this group. Since this dungeon core obviously wasn’t one of the traitors, what the difference in training here as compared to anywhere else?”

Kit: “Chase…?”

Chase: “I can’t leave Bandy…”

“Well what’s it going to be Kit?”

Kit: “Fine, but remember when this comes back to bite us in the tails, I told you so.”

Leonard: “Wait, you are just going to leave me here?”

“You’re a dungeon core aren’t you? Besides with Master telling everyone to head for the exit, as long as you sit right here, someone else should come passing through here, eventually.”

The dungeon core looks scared out of his wits, but he doesn’t say anything else as we head out to gather some more xp… We spend the rest of the afternoon gathering some xp, but the monsters here are just not that great.

Everyone else should have made it out of the dungeon already, Master hasn’t messaged us throwing a fit, so that weak dungeon core must have told him what we are doing, so he must not have any objections.

“I guess we should set up camp for now, and we can decide in the morning if we want to try to go deeper, or just say, to hell with this weak ass dungeon.”

We then find a place to set up camp, and we are so used to putting on the airs of pretending to not appear as dungeon monsters that smell of food cooking wafts through the air before we even realize it isn’t necessary this time.

There is no use letting the food go to waste though, so cast [Shadow Pocket] pulling out a large bottle of alcohol and get started on it. By the time my belly is full I have had just the right amount to drink so I sprawl out next to the fire, and drift off to sleep.

What feels like only minutes later I am being shaken while I hear Chase pleading. “Bandy! Bandy, wake up!”

I start to sit up, and although the effects of the alcohol is dissipating I can still feel it, so I must not been asleep very long. “You know better than waking me up! If something isn’t gnawing on my leg you are going to be sorry!”

Chase: “No, we are not under attack, but please listen! It is one of Master’s other groups, they just showed up!”

“If Master wants us to leave this place so damn bad, to send someone after us then fine! We will leave first thing in the morning.” –I say while yawning and trying to roll over to go back to sleep.-

Chase: “No, Bandy, don’t go back to sleep! Listen! They weren’t sent by Master, we are cut off from Master!”

I quickly sit up, sobering up in almost an instant. “Cut off? Just for ignoring one little order?! I am too fucking important to cut me off just like that!”

Chase: “No, not Master has cut us off. None of us can use [Communication]!”

“O-Oh? So Barry was one of the traitors after all?”

Chase: “We don’t know, as far as we can gather was, that the message that Master sent out telling us to leave the dungeon, was the last either of our groups received.”

I wipe my eyes and stretch. “So, who was this other group of Master’s that came wandering through?”

“That would be me.” –Says the dwarven woman in the fancy armor.-

“O-Oh, one of Master’s “special” girls…Hey, me and Bradford have a bet going. What makes you one of Master’s “Special” girls anyway? It’s the sexual favors isn’t it?”

Chase: “Bandy! This is important!”

“So is this! I have 50 gold riding on it.”

Katie: “Of course not! You should know as one of Master’s monsters that he isn’t like that!”

“How should I know? I’m not one of his “special” girls, so I don’t get to lie around Tobes, and do nothing.”

Katie: “I not only work just as hard as the other dwarves creating weapons and armor for the dungeon, but I also have a full-time job working at the blacksmith!”

“Yes, because a dwarf just hates to work a forge all day…”

Katie: “Look, none of that matters right now anyway, we have to get out of this dungeon!”

“So Master can claim the crystal for himself? Now that we know Barry being a traitor is back on the table, I am going to go for the crystal myself!”

Katie: “You can’t be serious…?”

“Why not? This dungeon is only 20 floors, so in one day we already got past more than half of it, and first thing in the morning we will start working on the rest.”

Katie: “Aren’t you the least bit worried about this being one of the traitor’s dungeons?”

“Master dealt with a few when they attacked his dungeon, so if he can do it, I know we can.”

Katie: “Only one of them was one of the traitors, he had to use a whole heap of his justicar points, and Madam Erin played a big part in it.”

“Well you are welcome to wait out the rest of the night here with us, but in the morning we are heading down, so you can do what you like after that.”

Chase: “Bandy you are actually going to go after one of the traitor dungeon cores?”

“You damn right I am, this is the kind of situation we have been waiting on. With Master’s last order to have everyone leave the dungeon, I am sure we are the group closest to the crystal now, so we have a chance at claiming our first crystal!”

Chase: “I don’t know…”

“You are welcome to stay with the dwarves.”

Chase: “Suzie’s healing isn’t enough to keep you in top form, who else is going to cover your backside?”

“Stare at it is more like it.”

Chase sighs and says. “I’m sorry Katie, but when Bandy makes her mind up on something…”

Katie: “Just be careful alright…?”

Chase: “We will.”

“W-Well, I am now wide awake and in a great mood now, so why don’t I take the next watch. I am in such a gracious mood, that I will even let you take watch with me, Chase, and you can wrap your hands around that ass you are always staring at.”

Chase: “We can’t keep watch and do something like that at the same time! Besides we don’t really have any privacy here…”

“If they want to watch let them watch. If not they will turn away.”

Chase: “I also told you I am no longer do anything like that without some commitment, I am tired of getting tossed aside when we hit a village and you find someone else!”

“Suit yourself, I am more than happy to handling it on my own.”

Katie: “On that note… I am going to try to get some sleep, I will have one of the others give you a hand… With the watch!”

“Dwarves aren’t really my style anyway.” –I say while stretching before taking a position making sure nothing sneaks up on us.-

Once morning rolls around we get everything set for setting back out into the dungeon, and prepare to part ways with are dwarven compadres.

As we prepare to set out Katie reaches out to shake my hand, but quickly pulls her own back after a brief second and says. “A-Ah well… I really wish you the best of luck, and I will tell Master when I see him that you are alright.”

I nod and we set out while Chase nudges me and says. “Did you see that look on her face she was horrified, I can’t believe you actually did it!”

“You’re just upset because you didn’t take me up on the offer!” –I say as we head out of the room and into the next.-

○○○○○○

“Megan! Are you alright?!” –I call out as I step forward slicing up the monster that knocked Megan down.-

Megan: “Fine, thank you.” –She says as she stands up and brushes herself off.-

“That looks like the last of them for now, but don’t let your guard down. We haven’t seen any Lizardmen and they have already taken out three of the others. What about the rest of you, are you alright?”

Most of the group replies with “Yes, Mistress.” All that is but one, he just nods his head and grunts.

“Are you sure? That one looked like it got you pretty good.”

“It was nothing… Barely a scratch.” – Says the redhead man as he wipes the blood from his arm.-

“You have plenty of scars as it is, so until you join my dungeon I am going to worry about even the little scratches.” –I say moving over and casting a low tiered healing spell over his wound.- “It looks like it was a little worse then you were letting on… I respect Dyson a lot, and you do remind me of him at times, but I would like my future husband to not have a body covered in scars like his.”

Logan: “I’m human, not glass, I do still heal on my own you know…”

A pair of beastkin girls that I brought along on this trip giggle as I fret over Logan’s wounds. After I take care of Logan I look around the room and say. “Well we got quite a ways to go before we get out of here, so we should probably get started.”

Beastkin girl: “If it wasn’t for Megan coming along when she did, we would have still been stuck in that room!”

Megan: “I was just glad to help.”

“When I received the message from Two-Twelve to retreat from the dungeon, and then we got trapped in the room and couldn’t send a message out, I thought we were in serious trouble. I guess we should consider ourselves lucky you were checking the side rooms on the way back up.”

Megan: “When I saw several people pass by heading straight for the exit, I thought, what if someone was trapped, and sure enough.”

Logan: “We were stuck in there all night, do you think everyone else has made it out by now.”

Megan: “Now that we have proof that Barry is one of the traitors, I don’t think they are going to just let that go, I am sure some of them are heading for the crystal.”

“I don’t know, Two-Twelve is the cautious type, I wouldn’t be surprised if he just took the information to the other Elders. After all we have already lost several cores.”

Logan: “Let’s get going, I want to make sure Belinda is alright.”

We then start making our way to the surface, it has already been 24 hours since we entered the dungeon, but we got trapped pretty far down, and it will probably take most of the day to get back, especially if we continue to make sure no one else got left behind.

I quickly realize that Megan is a pretty strong dungeon core, she seems to be trying to hide it though. I don’t know if she is just trying to help me gather xp, or if she just doesn’t want to make me feel bad for being so much stronger, but either way the further we go up the monsters get easier and easier so it isn’t really a problem.

We keep working our way up all day, and if we keep checking every room it we might be stuck in here for another night, but as luck would have it once we reach the 4th floor we notice that someone has cleared out the monsters already.

On the other floors the monsters respawn as soon as we stepped out of the room, so with so many corpses left behind without any respawning, someone must have searched this floor extensively. We stop to debate if we want to continue to check the room, or just head for the exit.

Megan has seemed to become in a bit of a rush, I guess she doesn’t want to spend another night in here either, so finally agree to skip the rest of the rooms and head straight for the exit. As we start approaching the exit we however are met with sounds of a massive battle.

Megan quickly spurs us into action. Just as you enter Barry’s dungeon from the natural cave texture to the stone texture there was a massive room, probably 100 feet wide and at least three times that long, and as we approach it, it seems every inch of it is covered in Lizardmen.

They range in variations of evolution, and even completely different species. Through the whole mess of Lizardmen I can see what looks to be everyone that entered the dungeon with us battling against the lizardmen on the far side of the room.

Directly in front of us however there is another small group that seems to be trying to get to the others as well, and they are one of the groups of people from Two-Twelve’s dungeon. We quickly draw our weapons and move in to help them.

 

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