Jare scratched his head for the umpteenth time, "Hm, I think it's that way." He pointed down a hallway, which was next to two other hallways. He turned to look at his brothers, "I'm very sure I'm right this time."
He was met with two very annoyed glares and two sets of impatient, rolling fingers.
"Bro, even I, not so bad." Will spat out in annoyance.
Anhel nodded, "Seriously big bro, this is rather ridiculous. We've spent most of the day in these mazes, and we haven't even made it to the 10th floor yet! Your sense of direction is terrible!"
Jare laughed awkwardly, "Um, well, my nose isn't working quite right here and . . ."
Anhel snorted, "Don't try to pin it on the dungeon; we would have made it to this two days ago if you hadn't been 'following your nose'." Anhel air-quoted the air, "How does a beast-man get so lost that he can't even tell east from west when the SUN IS RISING!"
Jare held up a hand, "Easy; the same way the tribes all lost the route to the ancestral burial grounds a few years ago. I think it's because the sun is against us and keeps rising in different locations."
Will groaned and sank to the ground in a huddle, "Me like that, one day? Sad."
Anhel patted William, "Don't worry, you'll never be as bad as big bro. You have the potential to rise from his ashes."
As the two shared a moment, Jare felt a shiver down his spine, "Oy, don't speak like I died or something, that raises a tribal flag you know."
"Tribal flags are hocus pocus nonsense you warriors came up with to explain accidents." Anhel dead-panned, giving his brother a dry look.
Jare shivered, "Tempting fate is bad. Come on, let's follow this tunnel and carry on." He turned and started walking away. William and Anhel sighed, but they both got up and followed their leader down the tunnel.
“Claire, can I please move out of this body? I wanna fight them already.” Doc whined as he followed the beast-men from the hidden tunnel.
Claire rolled her eyes and poked Doc again, “Really Doc, it hadn’t even been a full day yet and you’ve been moaning for hours. It’s like you’ve never been in a single body for so long.”
There was a moment of silence.
Claire coughed, “Um, what I meant to say that hopefully now you can appreciate your abilities a bit more. Everyone else in this world is stuck with a single body, except for special circumstances.”
“And no,” She continued, “I’m not telling you about them so go ahead and forget about it.”
Doc sulked for a moment, then formed a tentacle behind Claire’s back. He wiggled it around her and began to tickle. Claire shrieked and giggled as the tentacle got to all her funny areas and tickled them.
“Enough, enough Doc, okay I’ll tell you something more interesting.” She relented. She waited as Doc dissolved the tentacle and took a calming breath.
“Go on.” Doc prompted.
Claire rolled her eyes, “Soon, it’ll be springtime out in the world. I know that doesn’t mean much to you, but this world has four seasons that affect the weather outside.”
Doc swayed his body side to side, “I kind of picked that up from some of the adventurers, but what’s the significance of spring.”
Claire grinned and leaned forward until her upside down face was in front of Doc. Mouth wide open and eyes closed, she looked rather funny to Doc.
“Spring time is when nature occurs in bloom. Flowers will come out, new animals will be born, and monster season will start!” She threw out her hands and sang an unfamiliar tune.
Sensing Doc’s confusion, Claire plopped onto her stomach and began to draw on Doc’s body, “You see, monster season comes with the spring along with all the other fun events. Monsters have lots of babies, and those babies grow quickly into adult monsters that need their own territory, so there is a huge migration of monsters everywhere. It’s the best time to attract new monsters to our dungeon too, so we have to think of ways to attract them.”
Doc wiggled in excitement, “New monsters; that sounds really interesting! If they are anything like the twins, I really look forward to seeing them in action.”
Claire patted Doc’s body, “Yup, yup. We’ll have to go over the finer details of monster contracts, but that’ll be for another day. When you’re done with your punishment though, you should fix the forest tunnel back up. I want to fine lots of pretty flowers to plant in the dungeon once they come out.”
“It’s been awhile since you’ve called me that.”
“You’re right, not long enough.” Claire nodded to herself, “Now, hurry up and catch those beast-men. They’re finally entering the 10th floor.”
"RUUUNNNNNN!" Anhel screamed as the trio of beast-men raced down the maze tunnel. A large, grey slime which took up the entire tunnel was chasing them down.
"Anhel, what is that slime!" Jare cried out as they ran full pelt down the corridor.
"It's a gelatinous slime, an evolution of the grey slime. It’s impervious to physical attacks and takes a lot of magic to take down; more than what I can bring. We have to find a split off tunnel!" Anhel cried out.
William pointed ahead, "Tunnel ahead!"
"Dive!" Jare commanded as the trio dived into the branching corridor. The gelatinous slime zoomed past them and disappeared down the tunnel. A few moments later, they heard a loud impact as the slime ran into the wall.
The trio panted as they lay on the floor in exhaustion.
"Big brother, that was too close." Anhel muttered from his spot on the floor.
Jare was leaning forward with his back against the wall, "Yeah, no kidding. I was wondering why I could smell something strange about that wall."
The two turned to glare at William, "WHY DID YOU TOUCH IT!"
William groaned and let his tongue into the air as he panted on the floor, "Smell funny."
"No shit grizzly," Anhel dead-panned, "Which is why we were going to avoid it. I swear, you grizzly types are too curious for your own good, you might as well be a cat."
Naturally, even beast-clans had their own individual groups.
Jare took a deep breath and stood back up, "That was just bad luck that the gelatinous slime was spawning at that time. It must have been forming there over night when the dungeon was empty, and just now finished forming.” He flicked his ears and looked around, “Alright, I can smell the wind from this direction. Luckily we didn't get too off track. Let's get a move on."
In order to get through the maze, the trio had relied on their noses to smell the movement of the air, which signaled the next floor. Dungeon air was always moving from the deepest part toward the entrance, giving the effect of moans to listeners.
The three checked their weapons before moving down the tunnel. Ahead, two light green slimes moved toward them with a pink slime in the middle.
"Head's up brothers, two plant and one heal dead ahead." Jare announced.
Nodding, William donned his knives as Anhel cast the spirit of the hawk onto him. Instantly, William burst moved behind the plant slimes and cut the heal slime in half. He instantly moved back to avoid the vine snares that leaped off the walls at him. Jare bellowed and ran forward like a force of nature, his hammer swinging back. He leaped to the side as a thorn spear erupted from the ceiling at him, then rolled ahead to dodge another snare vine. Not leaping this time, he smashed the plant slime in front of him and rolled to the other side as second thorn whip tried to stab him. He smashed the other plant slime and the plants returned to normal. He casually walked over and smashed the heal slime as it was trying to pull itself back together.
Anhel hurried and over and bent down to inspect, "3 slime cores, a healing herb, and 2 silver. A small take this time."
Jare shrugged, "That's two days in a decent inn room there. Besides, we can't find big winners all the time."
Anhel sighed and nodded as he stowed away the items in his adventurer bag. The magic bag took everything and didn't appear to be any larger.
"Okay, let's head out. The boss should be just ahead." Jare announced as he strolled forward.
William scratched his head, "He say that, what, 3 times."
Anhel rolled his eyes, "That's right, 3 times already. Hopefully his nose hasn't gotten as old as he has."
"I heard that."
Doc and Claire watched the beast-men quickly dispatch the slimes. They sighed as a single unit.
“Those guys are way too strong Claire. I’m really happy they aren’t aiming for my core, because I don’t think I could easily stop them.”
Claire got off of Doc and floated over to the window, where she peeked down. “That lead one must be what the adventurers call a B or A rank adventurer. Those other two aren’t that much weaker either. Maybe we should think about improving again.”
Doc groaned, “Don’t even bring that up. I want to get the next evolution level so bad, but my mana levels are nowhere near high enough to acquire it. I don’t even have enough for another floor.”
“Then we’ll have to look for other means to improve the dungeon.” Claire declared matter-of-factly, “Did those church adventurers drop anything useful?”
“No.” Doc said regretfully, “I thought the whiny one would have some useful things, but all he had was the typical gear and a book on a new animal called chickens. I did learn a new item enchantment from the weapons, but I can’t use it for some reason.”
“I told you Doc, you can’t use faith magic, which includes blessed items. Just save them for when you have more slime varieties.” Claire walked over and gave his body a quick flick.
Doc rubbed his head in annoyance with a tentacle, and winced as Claire threw herself back on top of him.
“Onwards my steed, the dungeon boss fight awaits!”
A horrible shriek filled the room, causing the beast-men to cover their eyes in pain. Distracted as they were, the trio still managed to leap away from the center of the room as the boss dropped down from the ceiling, it's shadow covering the floor.
The huge green slime fell from the ceiling and quickly crushed the floor where they had just been standing, its spike shining under the torchlight. Two heal slimes followed it down from the ceiling and landed on either side of the boss.
"This is the jungle slime boss!" Anhel cried out as he recovered, "Don't let any of its body touch you; it's slime can erode over time and there is poison in its spikes."
"I'll handle the heal slimes quickly, you two distract it." Jare commanded as he wielded his giant hammer, "See it we can beat this guy without using our other forms!"
Nodding, Anhel and William leaped into battle. Anhel quickly cast the spirit of the hawk and bear on his two brothers, augmenting their attack and speed. William raced forward and began to slash the boss wildly in many places.
When the heal slimes moved to fix the slash marks, Jare appeared and slammed them into the ground, killing them instantly. He smiled with a blood-thirsty grin as he swipped the pink goo off his hammer, turning back to look at the boss.
"William, any problems?" he asked quickly.
William shook his head as he dodged a launched spike, "No need, know routine."
Anhel nodded in agreement, sitting down against the wall, "With out level of experience, it's easy to fight the bosses if we know their attack routine big bro. No need for either of us to do anything else."
Jare nodded his head in agreement and took a seat next to Anhel, "I guess you're right little brothers. Now, keep a heal spell in case of emergencies; it always pays to be vigilant. William, use this as an opportunity to train." Jare called out with his hands cupped around his mouth, "Improve your reaction time by fighting right next the spikes. If you can dodge them as they fly out, then you've got a good start."
Anhel frowned suddenly, "What if he doesn't have a good reaction time or slips up?"
"That's why you need to have the heal spell ready." Jare advised evenly. Anhel quickly opened his book and prepared a spirit of the water spell.
William got right up next to the boss and began to attack with a flurry of dagger slashes. The jungle slime launched spikes at him, only to have him dodge at the last second. William cursed as a few strands of hair flew off of his face from where the spike came close to getting him.
"Careful there Will; if they even graze you you'll be poisoned." Jare advised from the sidelines.
William nodded and grunted as he flipped his daggers around into a under-handed form. His form blurring, William began to sing the daggers deep into the slime boss and dragging them down before vanishing to another spot. The boss, enraged, grew two tentacles that began to chase him, intent on devouring him.
William leaped over one tentacle as his arms crossed his chest with the daggers pointed ahead. As the second tentacle swung toward him, he unfolded his arms and slashed completely through the tentacle, severing it from the body. The thick tentacle landed on the ground and dissolved into nothingness.
William hit the floor and leaped forward, keeping his momentum. The boss grew another tentacle that shot out in front of him and immediately began to swipe at his head. William threw his right arm down, pushing off the ground over the slime as he used the right dagger to cut right through the tentacle as he soared over it. The stump quickly regrew itself as the two tentacles chased after him.
As William ran in for another attack run, Anhel's spell ran off and he began to slow down.
"Not good," Anhel jumped up in a panic, "I can't call upon the spirit again for some time."
Jare was noticeably calmer, but his hand suddenly gripped his hammer as eyes watched the battle with sharp eyes.
William was also calm as he took in his slowing speed. While still faster than a human, the slime tentacles would soon catch him at this rate. Making a sudden decision, William ran straight at the boss as the two tentacles swung at him from either side.
Growing, he put on a sudden burst of speed as he threw himself into a spiraling circle. Reaching the crescendo of his turn, he threw both daggers into the slime boss with pinpoint accuracy just as the two tentacles caught up with him.
Almost reaching him, the tentacles froze in the air, than collapsed to the ground as the boss fell back, defeated. It dissolved into primordial nothingness as the two watching beast-men walked over.
"Big bro, big bro, that was amazing! How did you kill it so fast?" Anhel was very excited by what he had seen.
Jare chuckled as he walked across the room and pulled the two daggers out of the ground, the boss's slime core impaled by the two. He casually walked back and threw both daggers to William, who caught them with grace.
"Good job there knocking the core out of the boss." Jare complimented, "It's very hard to pinpoint the core's location since it's always moving inside. To land both daggers is a very impressive feet indeed little bro."
William scratched his head awkwardly and nodded in thanks. Anhel picked up the other loot, which wasn't interesting, as Jare walked over and pressed his hand against the sigil next to the stairs.
"Right, so are we going down or going back up?" he asked.
Anhel crossed his arms and thought for a moment, "The church is racing us right? It would be better if the experience a floor without our scouting right?"
Jare nodded happily, "Sounds good to me. Let's make our report to the vice-master, than sleep in for a day so the church can catch up."
William and Anhel raised up their arms in celebration; bears did indeed love their naps.