Thank you all for helping me to achieve this, it means a lot. Since it's a special occasion, I call upon the slimy powers to ask for more reviews and updated reviews.
Yes, it's a long overdue call for what you guys think of they story, again. Heh.
So here is the basic map of the continent. Credits to zonogaming for taking my crappy drawing and making it into something nice. Well, actually he sent me a more accurate map, but I can't find it so here is the lesser one.
After the blessing fell upon the town, the few remaining undead within and outside the town quickly withered away into dust as the holy magic filled their bodies. The exhausted adventurers were taken into emergency tents while the priests all cast their magic on them, healing their bodies and spirits.
Father Jonas watched, his brow slightly pale from the earlier magic. Mary walked over to him.
"How is the magus?" She asked.
Jonas sighed and shook his head, "The magus over-taxed his body with that last spell. He ended up using some of his life-force, but we have stabilized him for the moment."
Friar Henry, who was standing behind Father Jonas, spoke up. "Why would the magus put out so much power? Granted, he saved the adventurers, but I'm sure a few of them would have managed to escape."
Jonas and Mary locked eyes. Mary sighed and nodded.
"Friar Henry, have you ever fought against spirits and the undead?" She asked him.
"I have assisted in exorcisms of various grounds before now." He answered promptly.
Mary inclined her head, "Have you ever dealt with an undead dungeon that uses spirits before?"
At this, Henry shook his head, "No, the only undead dungeons that I have seen used skeletons and zombies. Even then, they were quite weak."
Mary turned to gaze out at the sunrise as it finally began to appear, "A natural spirit, ghost, specter, or any other spiritual being is a threat, but not one to be overly feared. However, a dungeon spirit used by a corrupted dungeon is the most terrifying thing we could have encountered here."
"Tell me," She turned quickly to look at Henry, "In the many years this dungeon has been plaguing this part of the continent, do you not think your and other churches have sent out forces to slay it?" She watched his uncomfortable look as his face frowned, "Spirits naturally have the ability to possess living bodies. When they do, the body becomes the prisoner of the new soul unless the original owner possess unusual spiritual strength."
"The same occurs with dungeon spirits, except . . ."
A scream sounded in one of the tents, alerting the three. They ran over just as a priest fled the tent.
A lone figure slowly exited the tent, an adventurer that had assisted on the battle field. However, his body was twitching unnaturally and his eyes were so red they glowed. He screamed and charged the group, his sword raised high.
In the time it took one to blink, Father Jonas and Master Mary were on the other side of the adventurer, one dispelling golden light while the other dispelled an unknown spell from her palms. The adventurer, frozen in time, fell over and collapsed into the dirt. A spirit rose up, holding the man's soul in its arms. Under the light of the blessing, the spirit screamed and was shattered. The soul turned transparent, but not before a grateful tear fell down his face.
Mary was frowning, "Corrupted spirits can copy their host's mind and act like them for as long as they are commanded by the hive mind. They take the original soul hostage, and try to drag them back to the dungeon to be corrupted. The body becomes either a skeleton or a zombie."
"So," Henry stared down at the dead adventurer, "All those zombies, skeletons, and spirits . . ."
"Most are the former villagers, adventurers, and many others that died to the Tomb." Mary confirmed, wiping her hands on her robe, "The real monsters mostly stay within the tomb itself."
Jonas sighed, "It is as she said. The real reason we are checking every surviving adventurer is that some may have been possessed. To be honest, a few spirits may have formed within the town as well, so we have our work cut out for us.”
Another ragged scream arose, signaling the night was not yet over for any of them.
Hours later, the leaders all sat down together in the meeting room of the adventurer guild. Mary sat with Fiora as her aide, Jare sat with Anhel and William, Father Jonas with Priest Horace, and Magus Falcon sat with a hot-pad and a bottle of booze.
He drowned his drink and breathed out slowly, “Ah, nothing a little elf wine won’t fix.”
Father Jonas raised an eyebrow, “Magus, your injuries were quite severe you know. Are you sure you should be here?”
The Magus raised his own eyebrow in response, “As the healer in this situation, shouldn’t you be ordering me to rest?”
“If I could make you I would,” He responded evenly, “But I doubt I’d be able to keep you anywhere you didn’t want to be.”
“Well, you’re right about that.” Falcon took another swig of his drink, “So, anyone else have an idea of what we should do?”
Everyone gave him an incredulous look.
“Oy old man, you know what’s going to happen?” Jare asked, the surprise evident in his voice.
Falcon ‘hmph’ed’ and looked smug, “Well, I am quite proficient in dungeons studies you know. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen the Tomb attack a village.”
“But, I was far to weak that time to stop it.” Falcon’s face lost its smug look for a moment as a deep sorrow was etched onto his face. He shook it off and went back to being smug.
“Well, this is the first time in a century the Tomb has attacked a settlement of this size, especially one with such a large church presence. I’m not sure exactly what this means, but the dungeon is here to stay.”
“What! I thought phantom dungeons only appeared during the full moon?” Fiora asked in shock.
Falcon inclined his head, “That is true my dear, they can ONLY move during the full moon, which if I recall, last night’s full moon was the last for another month.”
Father Jonas frowned and shook his head, “Our spell won’t last another week, let alone an entire month. We don’t have enough faith to cast it again for awhile either.”
Falcon pointed toward the Tomb, “That dungeon intentionally chose the last night of the full moon to appear so it could stay here to consume us. We can’t call for help either; messengers would be eaten and spells would be intercepted by the dungeon’s magic. The most we can do is raise distress flags to warn off anyone approaching the city.”
“Forgive me Magus,” Anhel piped up, “But everything you’ve said makes it sound like the dungeon is acting like a tactician. It’s just a dungeon, right?”
The Magus shook his head, “If it were just a dungeon, we wouldn’t be this hard pressed. No, that is a tomb young beast-man, and the sinister nature of its presence here means that we have quite the fight on our hands. In order to survive, we are going to have to defeat it.”
Everyone began thinking on this.
“How deep is the dungeon?” Jare asked.
“At least 100 floors.” Falcon answered honestly.
“That means it is at least a C-ranked dungeon; most of our adventurers and clergy are too weak for an expedition of that size.” Mary spoke up.
“It also lacks teleport glyphs and spatial magic will not work inside so our talismans are worthless.” Jonas reminded them, “If we go in, we must either succeed or die.”
Jare rubbed his head, “Can it still attack us?”
Jonas shook his head, “No, the sun will keep the undead away, and our barrier will keep them out at night for about a week. That being said, I sense the zombies in the fields around the town, just waiting to pop up and drag down victims. Their cursed flesh will protect them from the sun long enough to kill anyone they grab.”
“That means,” Mary summarized, “we have 6 days to prepare an assault team. They have a day to reach the bottom and destroy the dungeon before it destroys our town.”
Jare let out a sigh as he thumped his hand on the table, “Without glyphs, we will only be able to reach the 50th floor if we move as fast as possible. By myself, I could reach the 60th floor if I encounter no enemies at all.”
“Besides,” He pointed out, “The specters and spirits will rip through us without protection.”
“My priests can create talismans to protect you from possession, but we need 5 days to recover our faith for the magic needed.” Jonas spoke up.
“I and the other enchanter types can assist the priests, but most will have to give you elemental enchantments besides light.” Falcon asserted.
“So, we have 5 days to come up with a strategy . . .”
As they broke apart into small groups to discuss ideas, Nat walked out from behind Fiora. She had come in with her, but had neglected to say anything before.
“Excuse me,” She said tentatively, calling everyone’s attention, “But why not use the dungeon to help us?”
Father Jonas coughed, Falcon spit out his wine, Mary raised an eyebrow, and Jare gaped for a moment before everyone recovered.
“Excuse me my dear, but are you referring to the slime dungeon?” Father Jonas clarified.
Nat nodded, “The slimes helped us in the battle, so the dungeon is on our side.”
Jonas shook his head, “My dear, a dungeon is on no one’s side but its own. If it helped, then it helped for purely selfish reasons.”
“Yeah, but if we can persuade . . .”
“You can’t talk with dungeons Nat, it doesn’t work that way.” Fiora put her hand on Nat’s shoulder kindly, “It’s a good idea, but now’s not the time for fantasy strategies.”
Nat looked around, but found no support. Seeing that she had made a fool of herself, she turned and left the room. She wandered over to a bench and sat down, staring up at the glowing sky.
“Was it really such a foolish idea?” She wondered out loud.
“Actually, I thought it was brilliant.” Came a voice to her right.
Startled, Nat jumped and turned to find the Magus next to her, smoking a cyan colored pipe. He paused and blew out a smoke-shaped slime, watching it fly into the sky.
“Sir Magus, I thought you were inside?” She asked, surprised.
Falcon grinned at her, looking sideways toward her, “Oh, I am. I’m also lying in bed resting and gallivanting around the abandoned stores in search of booze. As I told my young student earlier, being in multiple places at once isn’t hard.”
“Anyhow, I actually agree with your idea.” He took a moment to create a bird of out cyan smoke.
“Then why didn’t you support me inside?” She inquired.
“Because,” He put away his pipe, “That would require stepping on some toes when cooperation is needed for now. However, I made a fairly decent impression on the dungeon before, so let’s take advantage of that favor and go ask.” He got up and pulled Nat to her feet.
“But, how can we reason with a hive-mind? It’ll devour us for sure.” Nat was rather nervous now at the thought of being alone in a dungeon with a crazy sounding old man.
Falcon chuckled, “What people forget is that a hive mind is still a mind. It has desires and fears just as much as the rest of us; it least that is what I have learned through my research. Come, let us enter the first ever negotiation with a dungeon.