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Chapter 31

It took longer to find a place to settle than I thought it would. Any time we ran into an enemy of more than one, we went another direction. It made traveling very slow. It also felt like this fifth floor might be about twice the size of the first floor, but without comparing the maps I had no way to tell for certain if it was true.

We ended up taking out two more zombies, and Lydia went up to Swordsman LVL 4. Whatever skills she was gaining, I wasn’t aware of them. I felt a bit frustrated not know what she had. For all I knew, she had a super special spell that would be able to wipe out all our enemies without danger. Well, that wasn’t likely. Each fight went the same way. She would swipe, I’d heal, and then she’d swiped again. Since her first attack, she hadn’t been hurt once, and seemed in surprisingly good spirits.

“This room… it’s familiar.” I said as we entered a cathedral looking room. “Close that door over there.”

I pushed the stone door we walked through closed, and then went to help Lydia close the other, which turned out to be way too heavy for her, even with all her force. She blushed as I held my hands over her head and helped her push. With luck, we managed to get both doors shut and locked. This was the end of day two for me in this dungeon. We were at a cathedral that looked very similar to the one I had seen in on the first floor. Perhaps there was one of these on each floor of the dungeon.

I pulled out supplies from my backpack. Lydia’s had been abandoned as she ran from the zombies, so we only had my supplies. She thanked me to the point of tears when I offered to share with her. Did she think I was going to let her starve? Well, I only had a week of provisions for one person. Assuming it took a day each level to get back out, that was a 4-day journey. We could barely make it. That last day we’d both be starving. I didn’t hold back rations though. We needed our strength if we wanted to make it, and I barely knew the meaning of eating light.

Lydia got the campfire going quickly, and actually started taking the food and cooking it. I set her job to cook. Maybe she’d get experience for it then. Good smells started to fill the room shortly after. I greatly anticipated having a girl cook food for me. This would actually be a first time outside of my mother, who was no cook at all.

“What is that?” Lydia asked as I approached a wall and found a familiar mural there.

“It’s the story of this dungeon.” I said, glancing at the pictures. “Eh? This is a different story!”

“Can you tell me the story?” She asked, her tail swishing and her eyes curious as she stirred a pot of stew.

“Hmmm… this story is about a pair of siblings. There was a brother and his sister.” I explained. “The brother always vowed to protect his sister, and the pair were very close. You see, there mother and father had died in a war, and while they were allowed to live in the village, they only had each other to depend on. Then, one day, slavers came to their village. They were animalkin and it was an animalkin village, and the slavers attacked it to steal slaves and sell them. The brother tried to run with his sister, but she wasn’t able to keep up and fell behind. The slavers caught her, while the brother could only watch helplessly from his hiding spot. He failed to protect the last family he had.”

“And then?” Lydia was leaning forward, her ears perked up.

“It sort of just ends there. He left to seek power and to get vengeance on those that took his sister and enslaved her. There is something about raising an army to fight the humans, but that’s it. I suppose we need to find the next cathedral if we want more of the story.” I said uncertainly.

“We definitely must!” She responded excitedly, the spoon in her hand like a weapon.

I just didn’t understand how it fit with the first part of the story. That was a simple tale. If this was all Mira’s tale, then was Mira the sister who was kidnapped? Was this how she ended up a slave? I felt like it was a puzzle, and I was just missing a few pieces to understanding the whole story. 

Chapter 32

We ended up sleeping the night in the cathedral. The food she made was very delicious… but it might take a few more times before she reached level 2. I gave Lydia my bedroll, but she absolutely wouldn’t take it, insisting that she had to sleep on the floor. Had I more guts, I might have offered to share the bedroll. I didn’t think she would mind. However, after the ear incident, I didn’t want things to be awkward between us anymore, so I chickened out.

We woke up the next morning, ate dry food, and then carefully opened the door. It was time to start working on our escape. It was very unlikely that the adventuring team would work their way down to the 5th floor any time soon. Rescue was weeks away. Therefore, we had no choice but to continue forward. We found the stairway down before we found the stairway up. It took a while to realize where the stairway up was because it was surrounded by zombies and skeletons.

Up until that point, we tried to avoid encounters, and if we did fight, it was usually only one. After the most recent kill, Lydia’s swordman job leveled to 5 and my white mage increased to seven. This could be considered an incredible rate for normal people, but we were seriously putting our lives on the line here. Without divine aura and Lydia’s speed, this dungeon would have been impossible for the pair of us. Even then, if we were seen by more than two enemies, we had no choice but to run until they lost track of us.

That was, at least, until I leveled. At level 7, the spell I got was Harm Undead. It did a bit more damage than weak heal, and it used a lot less mana. It was also a quick cast spell with good distance. Suffice it to say, I grew a lot more confident after earning it, and we started fighting groups of two as well. However, we finally reached a point where the zombies were just too congested to do anything like that with them. Any attempt to attack a zombies attention led to four or more chasing after us.

“We’re going to need to kite them.” I said. “We’ll attract the four and lead them on. I’ll cast the spells I can to take them down until there is two left. Can you take out the other two?”

By this point, we had been fighting all day, and Lydia had grown used to being face to face with a zombie. Her movements were a lot more confident as she grew used to the sword. We had only run into one other skeleton on this floor, and their sword wasn’t as nice as the one she acquired, so it was still the same one from before. As for divine aura, I needed to cast it about once every ten minutes to keep the light shining from it and its extra damage.

“Alright! Let’s go!”

Like that, we steadily wittled down the zombie menace. Levels came harder and harder the higher up we got. As I didn’t gain another level in White Mage, I considered other options that could increase our suitability. Near the end of a few fights when Lydia was taking care of the last zombie, I switched to hero so that it would get the experience instead. After a few kills, it leveled up by one.

{Switch Position has been unlocked.}

And the skill was a bit useless. I practiced it a few times with Lydia, who clapped excitedly by what was essentially a teleportation spell. The skill allowed me to swap positions with anyone in my party. It could be cast instantly, but it locked our feet in place for about 2 seconds after, making the spell exceptionally bad.  If I was an actual hero, I could use it to take a hit for someone in danger. However, as a support, I could only throw my party under the bus and flee before I was hit. Since there would be no warning for them, they would assuredly be hit in my place. It was the ultimate in douchey skill if I was the one to use it. I decided to return to White Mage and hope I got more spells that could aid in killing the undead.

We had finally cleared out the corridor with the zombies in it. We could now progress to the 4th floor. Wait, why is there all this rubble there? 

“S-seriously?” I said in disbelief. “Can a dungeon even cheat like this?”

The stairway had collapsed. Giant boulders now barricaded our way out of the labyrinth.

“This was… other Master’s doing.” Lydia said as she put a hand on the stone. “He’s used similar tactics before to stop enemies from chasing him.”

“That noble really left us for dead.” I said bitterly.

“The dungeon will heal itself in a few weeks.” Lydia explained. “What shall we do, Master?”

“We have no choice but to keep going down… and hope that we get a spell that takes up back up to the surface.” I responded regretfully.

If we could land on a trap like the one that sent us to the 5th floor in reverse, that would be the best.

Chapter 33

Heading down to the sixth floor, I realized that I had no clue how deep this dungeon went. It was a rather new dungeon, so it shouldn’t be that many more floors. At least, that’s what I had heard from the other adventurers.

“I heard that every 5 levels, the difficulty increases drastically.” Lydia spoke up. “That tough skeleton we fought was likely the mid-boss. Every ten levels has a boss, every 5 levels has a mid-boss.”

“Is that so… I thought bosses would be in something in like a boss room.”

“The tenth level boss is… but the mid-boss is usually just an abnormally strong monster of the same version as the other monsters on that level which wander the floor.”

Point being, things were only going to get harder from here on out. We peaked around carefully, looking for the mobs. I was relieved to see that there were more zombies, but every level down so far they had grown stronger. These zombies in particular looked really beefy. In comparison, the ones on the surface which were practically emaciated. At the time, I thought that was just how zombies looked. Only now did I realize they got thicker and stronger looking the farther down we got. Had these been the quality of the zombies attacking the town, they would have been destroyed for sure. 

“Should we try to defeat one, master?”

“I suppose we should.” I nodded.

I put the Divine Aura back on her sword, and then started by casting harm undead to quietly catch its notice. The monster let out a roar that shook the room, and then began heading for us. He was much much faster than even the skeleton before. I had to admit, he was very scary. I cast the spell again, and then again. Finally, Lydia charged out to meet the monster. She was really fearless. Her body flashed with a blue glow, and the sword did two cuts as she slid instantly to the other side of the monster. She had managed to pull off a skill!

“Ahn, I did something!” She said in surprise.

“Good Job, Lydia!” I declared, “Now, let’s finish him off!’

I cast five more harm undead before she managed to attack him a dozen times with her enhanced sword. He was fast, but still not nearly fast enough to keep up with Lydia’s footwork, which was beyond anything I had ever seen in my old world. He finally fell, breaking apart to dust. As far as drops, he didn’t leave any. Drops seemed to be very rare. So far, I had only picked up two. The bone powder from the skeleton earlier, and a zombie toe. I had no clue what either could be used for.

We didn’t have time to rest after the zombie fell, as there was a thumping sound that came around the corner. The both of us looked to see a large, armored man coming our way with glowing eyes. My hackles immediately raised. Up until now, I had only seen skeletons and zombies. Sure, their sizes and shapes changed a bit, but they were fairly consistent. Then again, I had skipped levels 2-4. It was possible that zombies rotated out every level, and I had only lucked out by running into the same combination on level 1 and 5. I’d need to ask Lydia about it once we finished this threat.

“Harm Undead!” I declared, sending the spell to hit the monster.

It didn’t roar in pain. In fact, it didn’t react at all. For some reason, I had the distinct feeling that if I cast heal on it, nothing would happen.

“Lydia…” I looked back at her worriedly.

“I believe this is called a Living Armor, Master.” Lydia said, “This is not technically an undead.”

“Seriously?” I wouldn’t be able to fight this thing in the slightest if it wasn’t undead.

Would I have to pull out my hero job after all? Maybe I could unlock swordsman if I really tried.

“I will defeat this enemy for Master!” Lydia declared, leaping out boldly.

I could only watch as she attacked the monster. Its sword was many times larger than hers, and it was clear a single swipe could seriously injure her. It was also the fastest enemy to date, and I could see that even Lydia was pressed to dodge it.  The fight went on and on. Each cut on the armor left a dent or some other visible damage, but Lydia was also looking tired.

“Refresh!” I cast the spell on her, and her movements picked up again.

That’s right, I was her support. Even though the Divine Aura wasn’t helping her out, I could support her in other ways. Suddenly, Lydia glowed again, and she did the same cross attack she had done before. The monster roared finally and its sword glowed for a second. He used a skill too! Th-that’s cheating! Suddenly, his movement speed was faster. Lydia slammed her sword threw his helmet, piercing his eyes, but at the same time, his massive sword landed on her. Blood splattered across the armor’s body, and Lydia flew back, slamming into a wall and crumbling like a doll.

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