“We mapped out a room earlier. It resembles some kind of chapel. The doors can be secured, and we can get some rest for the night.” The guy who drew the map suggested.
The guild leader patted my back. “You doing okay? The spell you just cast, it hurts the zombies, and it helps us. Can you do it again?”
I gave him a queasy look. “I think, but I’ll probably pass out after. That’s as far as my mana will go.”
The guild leader nodded. “Men! We’re going to make for the chapel. When Deek casts his spells, we’re going to push through the crowd behind us and break for it.”
“Hehe… I’ll carry the little Deek when he passes out.” The muscular girl adventurer said, winking at me.
I really didn’t do anything to try to catch her interest. I really didn’t want to become her plaything. Ah, well, I wanted to live right now, so I was willing to flirt back, but my expression mostly just looked sick. I wasn’t used to these kinds of life and death situations. Even a gaming mentality had its limits in protecting my mind from stress. Fortunately, these adventurers understood all too well that I was just a rookie, even if they called me the town hero.
“You can do this,” The guild leader shot me a thumbs up. “Ready? Go!”
I gritted my teeth. The group was depending on me, so I did the same group spell as before. White light exploded out again. This time, I really did hit my limit. My consciousness slipped away as I fell to the floor. I really hoped we’d make it okay. I realized I was putting a lot of trust in these guys that I barely knew.
My eyes opened, and my head throbbed. I felt like I was hungover. Growling, I tried to sit up but only fell back down.
“Mana exhaustion.” A voice next to me said, “Here, we owe you this much at least.”
A vial was pushed down my lips. It was like the mana vial I still had on me. It had never occurred to me earlier to drink it. I could have completely avoided mana exhaustion, but my brain hadn’t been thinking in those terms. As the sweet liquid went down my throat, I felt my strength recovering.
“How does that feel?” The guy who was pushing it down my throat was the guild leader himself.
“I still have a headache.”
“Yeah, even healing won’t let you get away from that. Just give it an hour. Try to eat something. It’ll help.”
The guild leader helped me up, and I took a seat around a flameless fire. Everyone around me was rather somber. They had been caught in a trap and were now stuck in a dungeon where death was a genuine possibility.
Although I had my own rations, they put a bowl of something appetizing in front of me. It was a thick tasting soup with noodles and beef. I really enjoyed it. By the time I was done eating, just as the guild leader had predicted, my headache was feeling better.
The room we were in had two exits, and both were currently shut. Large stone doors sealed us in like a tomb. The room had a certain degree of elegant overtones. They had called it a cathedral, and with pews and altar in the front, it certainly gave the impression of one. All the cobwebs and such made it feel like an abandoned one.
I walked around the room just to stretch my legs when my eyes fell on something interesting. “Can I get a light?” I asked an Adventurer nearby.
He handed me the lantern on the ground, and I brought it closer to the wall.
“Did you find something, little one?” the voice of the woman came from behind.
“Yes, it looks a bit like… a mural?”
“What’s a mural?”
“A painting on the wall.” I explained, “It looks like it tells a story… is this the lore that the guild leader was talking about?”
I looked from one image to the next. Most images depicted between 1-3 people. There were no words, but the actions the images performed were usually pretty clear to me. My lips moved unconsciously as I went from one portrait to the next.
“Can you read the story?” The muscular woman asked with some interest. “Can you tell us?”
Several of the other men had turned in interest and were watching me walk along with the mural with a lantern raised to give clarity. Well, I thought I followed the story, but without words, it was all just conjecture. It could mean something, or it could just as easily be a fairy tale I made up. Everyone seemed to be looking at me, though. Perhaps my robes gave me a scholarly aura, and these adventurers were giving me credit for being smarter than I really was.
I cleared my throat and turned to the woman, who had moved close enough to me that her chest was a few inches from my face. “Ahem, it depicts a story… a story about a man and a woman…”
“A love story?” She asked, and then blushed, backing up a step.
“Sort of…” I gave a wry smile.
“The man was a master, and the woman was his slave. If dungeons are truly created by lore, then this means that this dungeon was created by their relationship.”
“A master and a slave?” A wolf animalkin snorted. “Probably some poor animal-girl slave.”
I nodded. “It does show her with a tail and ears. If I had to guess, her name is Mina.”
“Mina?” The female adventurer blinked. “I thought you said there were no words?”
I had named her based on the name of the dungeon. However, I didn’t even know if that’s how things went. I didn’t want to explain any of this, so I just decided to take advantage of my scholarly aura and pretend I knew what I was talking about.
“That’s the name of this dungeon, isn’t it?”
“Hah? You have Identify?” Another guy took notice, the map maker. “That’s the only way you can find out the name of a dungeon.”
“Y-yeah… something like that…”
Fortunately, they accepted my words without too much struggle. After all, I was a mysterious class they never heard of. Why couldn’t I have an Identify spell? Actually, I really wish I’d get it. It would make things easier. That would be merchant, right? I’d have to figure out how to level it. That meant a lot of bartering in the future.
“Anyway, continue…” The girl said excitedly.
“Ah… well… the story isn’t that complicated. Mina’s first master was abusive and cruel. He’d drag her into dungeons and make her fight for him. One day, they bit off more than they could chew, and her master and the rest of her party fell. She barely managed to escape only to become lost in the dungeon. She was then saved by a young hero. Because her first master had perished, he took her as his slave instead. He offered to free her, but she refused to, afraid of being left with nothing and ending up back in slavery again.”
“That’s the way it is the farther you get into the country…” The wolfkin explained bitterly, a rabbitkin next to him nodding in affirmation.
“Yes… well… the girl fell in love with her master, but he only ever saw her as a companion. She never had the courage to tell him that she loved him. Eventually, one day, the hero fell fighting a powerful necromancer. The necromancer brought the hero back to life and ordered it to slay his party. She was killed by the reanimated corpse of the man she loved. Her one desire, to confess, being denied to her.
The muscle woman looked like she was about to cry. Some of the other men simply looked contemplative, except one guy in the back who actually was openly weeping while rubbing his eyes with the cloth he was earlier using to oil his ax.
“I wonder what that means for completing the dungeon.” I pondered out loud. “Getting her to confess her love? That’s how to finish the lore, right?”
“Don’t worry about it.” The guild leader shrugged. “Tomorrow, we’re going the break for the entrance and get out of this dungeon. After that, we’ll get some dungeon divers and wage a proper strike to destroy this dungeon’s lore once and for all.”
Before I got some rest, I decided to cast some healing and Refresh spells on everyone. Even the smallest wounds were cleaned up, and soon, everyone was back to their full condition. The Refresh spell also helped them maintain their minds and keep their sanity. The whole event looked a lot less bleak after everyone was back to 100%.
Although there were occasional bumps on the door from a zombie, the stone doors were locked and heavy. We would be safe until the morning. After finishing my healing duties, I decided that going back to sleep would be a good idea. Since we were indoors, I only pulled out my sleeping roll and then got ready. If it weren’t for the catacombs and the zombies, this would almost feel like camping. I slept somewhere close to the fire, enjoying the feeling of the radiant heat on my feet.
When I drifted off, I dreamed of the scene I had read on the mural. Except, the girl took on the face of the catkin girl who went into the catacombs with the noble. She was a cute girl. I wondered why I couldn’t get her out of my mind. Well, unlike the hero of the story, I had no plan to rescue her from her master.
I was just shaken awake by the big sister adventurer. “It’s time to go, little one.”
I nodded, yawned, stretched, and then stood up. Just about everyone was already up and ready to go. They must have let me sleep longer because of the usefulness of my Refresh. I was very thankful I found a party full of good people. Still, I quickly packed everything away to avoid holding anyone up. Once everyone was ready, the guild leader made a starting gesture at the door.
“We’re going!” Two men pushed open the door.
The crowd of zombies wasn’t there. There were only a few. The men quickly dispatched of them. Then, we began to move at a brisk pace, jogging through the corridors.
“With luck, we should be able to get through this without getting swamped again.” One of the guys muttered.
“Shh… don’t jinx it.” Shot another.
I realized at that point that I really didn’t know anybody’s name. There was the guild leader, the big muscular sister, the wolfkin, the map guy, a bunnykin, a guy who looked like a rogue, and a guy who wore armor and a shield like a knight. I didn’t even remember the three who had died last night. When we got out of this, I would definitely ask for their names and remember them, even though I was really bad at it.
“Raaawrr!” A roar of numerous voices came down the hallway.
“Damn it, you had to say something!” the rogue growled.
“What do we do, guild leader?” the muscular sister asked.
“If we don’t push through, then we die here. Besides, if we don’t kill them here, we’ll be fighting them as they attack our village.”
That was an argument everyone could understand. If a wave this large attacked the village again, there was no guarantee that it could be kept back. The only choice was to kill as many zombies as possible and hold off the attack on the village until some skilled dungeon divers or higher-level guild branches arrived.
“Everyone, get all of your mana potions out and give them to Deek. Deek, we’re going to depend on you a bit. Don’t knock yourself unconscious. Just cast that spell when we need it. It does wonder for crowd control.”
As I agreed to the plan, about ten mana potions were dumped into my lap. This was a small fortune, but that was precisely how needy everyone was right now. I even pulled out my own mana potion I had won from earlier. There was no point in holding back anymore. It was do or die. There was one thing I was certain of though. I never wanted to go back to another dungeon in my entire life.