Before we left the level, I did make sure to check out the mural. There were only four in this dungeon. That meant there were only four chances to understand the nature of this dungeon and why it was formed. This mural didn’t mention the war but involved a battle between two of the blue people. One of them died, and the other was proclaimed king. It seemed like the passing of power went to whoever was strongest.
As for the miniboss of level 15, it was another T-rex, but even larger. It had a lot of vitality, and killing it took quite a bit of time. I was beginning to see a pattern in this dungeon. The monsters she picked weren’t powerful, but they were troublesome. They took a lot to kill, even at a low level. Although I had fought other high-HP monsters, these were often slow.
I would guess that the Kraken and T-rex were two of the monsters that had the highest HP and were in a state where you couldn’t avoid them or fight a prolonged battle. They required swift attacks and massive use of energy. Then, you had the inaccessible safe rooms, keeping anyone from resting comfortably. On top of that, the hot, humid environment with the relentless sun seemed designed to wear you down. This entire dungeon felt like a massive endurance run, designed to grind someone’s will down.
Given our situation, I felt we had no choice but to continue. The difficulty of the monsters increased once again as we reached level 16. Most of my hopes that we’d get some rest on the 19th floor before having to face Calypso were all but dashed. I’m sure there was going to be something off about the next safe room too. Currently, my best hope was that we could catch her off guard. That depended on the deception holding. If not, we could always flee in my Portal now.
The girls had already voiced to me their opinions that we should leave and regroup, but if that happened, we’d be falling into a battle of attrition. Calypso’s power came from this dungeon. Even if we needed to flee the dungeon shortly after, I could always Portal right back for a surprise attack. That meant we needed to make it to the final floor as quickly as possible.
I had a skill from Dungeon Builder called Dungeon Sense. It was a difficult to understand skill, but it seemed to give me a feeling of the status of the dungeon. I could tell the dungeon’s mood. At the moment, that sense was telling me that this dungeon was close to going into a growth period. If that happened, it’d become a level 25 dungeon. Although this might seem like just five more levels, it also meant that all the mobs would become more powerful, and she’d be able to summon more. In other words, if we didn’t finish this in the next few days, the Bandit army we were already struggling with would grow exponentially more powerful.
This was ultimately why we couldn’t just break. We had to plunge forward, and we had to win!
Six days after we entered the dungeon, we finally came to the 19th floor. Three weeks from now, I was supposed to be in Osteria to attend some princesses meeting. It was recommended we leave next week, but that was assuming we were people who traveled normally. Thanks to my Portal, we wouldn’t need all of that time. It was my goal to finally take care of Lord Reign within the next three weeks. I wouldn’t be comfortable leaving the country until that threat was dealt with.
To deal with that threat, I had to amass a large enough army to deal with Lord Reign’s Demonic Knights. That led us to want to make a treaty with the Bandit Hero. That hero turned out to be the exceptionally strange and dangerous Calypso, and her Bandit army turned out to be dungeon creatures that she had created after becoming the Master of her dungeon. There were still too many questions I couldn’t answer.
I didn’t know how someone became the Master of a dungeon. I figured it had something to do with the boss’s room. Perhaps, if you got your hand on the dungeon lore, rather than destroying or absorbing it, I could claim the dungeon as my own. It was just a guess, but I thought if I injected my miasma into the dungeon lore, that I could become the Master of said dungeon.
Ultimately, that was my current goal. I wanted to get as close to the boss room as possible, find the orb, and then inject it with my miasma. Then, Calypso’s dungeon would become my dungeon. That was one option. Regrettably, the Bandits had a very limited use, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to use them in my invasion of Alerith. Therefore, the more likely scenario was that I destroyed the lore so that Calypso couldn’t use it. I didn’t hold any hopes that I’d be completing the lore this time. After all, it was anyone’s guess what the goal of this dungeon was anyway.
“Mast…” Lydia bit her tongue as she stopped me from taking a step forward.
Right where my foot would have been, an arrow struck. Was it a trap? One thing this dungeon hadn’t thrown at us were traps. Maybe they would have appeared on level 21, but why would it suddenly appear on 19? That’s when I noticed that the arrow came from someone. A moment later, we were surrounded by Bandits. The girls were on alert, but I told them to hold off their attack. That shot had been a warning shot after all. They could have aimed for my heart.
After a moment, a person walked out of the forest. “Congratulations. You’ve made it.”
The group all looked at each other in confusion. We were rather tired and a bit haggard after a solid week of rapidly advancing. I hadn’t even had a chance to go through the girls’ levels and see how they had progressed. I hadn’t even had a chance to see how I had progressed.
“Made it?” I took the lead, asking in confusion.
“The Bandit Trial.” He raised his hands. “You made it to and through the final floor. You are now qualified.”
“Qualified for what?” Miki asked suspiciously.
“Why… to join us! You’re a Bandit now!” He smirked.
This entire dungeon had been a hazing ritual? You fought through ridiculous odds and stamina grinding obstacles and once you reached the bottom, you were initiated. Could it be that simple? She had said she sent us down here to earn levels. That had now been accomplished. However, it all seemed a bit too easy.
The group of us all looked at each other awkwardly before following the man. There were nearly as many Bandits on this floor as there were on the surface. We were surrounded. We ended up being taken to a tent. He stopped, standing at attention right next to it. The group of us entered the tent.
I quickly realized that the inside of the tent contained no Bandits. It wouldn’t, because it was the safe room of this level. I quickly registered at the kiosk, and then checked out the mural. The final clue behind this dungeon. It seemed to show a hero rising from the ranks of the blue people, and fighting back the humans. As the blue people fled over the seas, the hero fought and allowed them to escape, slaughtering hundreds of enemies, one man against a flood.
Honestly, I had no clue what it meant. What was the story that hadn’t been complete? Just as I started to dwell on it, I started hearing a thumping sound. I looked around in confusion. I realized it was a drumming sound, mixed with the sound of people stomping their feet. There were also cheers and shouts. This came from the flap across from the one we had entered from. This would be the flap leading into the boss room.
I ran to the flap we had come from and lifted it. I found myself peering into a stone wall. I hadn’t heard the entrance close behind us, but there was no returning to the 19th floor. The dungeon boss was waiting for us.
“Master, we could still leave…” Terra began, but then her voice drifted off.
“Let’s go.” The group of us walked out of the safe room, and into a giant stadium.
I had never seen a boss room like this before. There was a large arena with dirt floors and stands that circled it completely. Those stands were filled with Bandits, and as soon as our group walked out, they broke into cheers.
As we approached the center, my eyes fell on Calypso. She was sitting on a large chair in the center portion, a unit separate from the seating of the common rabble. She truly looked like a Queen. A smile formed on her face as our eyes met, and I started to have a sinking feeling.
“Congratulations, you have made it through my trial, and have earned the right to join my Bandit horde.” She pronounced, causing even louder cheering. “Of course, to join, you just have to do one last little thing for me.”
“What is that?” Lydia asked, asserting herself as the leader again, while I returned to acting like the innocent tag-along and member of her harem.
“You should have long figured that out by now.” Calypso laughed dryly.
“You have to die!”