Dante’s Immortality – Chapter 7
He was fucked.
After leaving Alazel with both Roderick and Isaac’s scent, he had picked up a trail easily. Quite pleased with himself, he and Herman had set off on the trail, eager to finish the task that their lord had given them.
They had found Roderick first, his body flattened from a fall off the cliff next to his body. Unfortunately, Roderick had no enchanted stone on his person. Initially, he didn’t think much of it. Thinking that Isaac might have pushed him off of it so he could keep the stone for himself. It was even possible that he just fell off the cliff himself, after all, Roderick wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.
So, not thinking much of it they set off to find Isaac.
And here he was, absolutely fucked.
Joseph looked down at Isaac’s body, then up at Herman. Even though Herman’s features were hidden by his full beard, he could actually see sympathy on his face. He saw sympathy on Herman’s face. Lord Tibbott’s most ruthless combatant was actually showing him sympathy. It was the first emotion he had ever even seen from him.
“Can you at least track his clothing?”
Joseph shook his head. “I might have been able to if his clothing was closer, but my range is far too limited if I’m not tracking people. Clothes just don’t continuously give off a scent like people do...”
Joseph looked down at the body and shuddered. “Was he killed by a vampire?”
Herman just grunted and knelt down to inspect the body, after looking it over for a moment, Joseph got his answer. “Not a vampire, the throat was cut first, and the blood was taken from his corpse after he died.”
Joseph cursed, he could feel cold sweat forming on his back.
How is that better than a fucking vampire?
“We had best be getting back, his Lordship will be eager for news of his stone.” With that, Herman turned and began walking back to Alazel.
Joseph hesitated for a moment. Not sure how he would be treated with his first failure, and on such an important job as well. But after that moment’s hesitation, Joseph gave a defeated sigh and followed Herman back to Alazel.
He wasn’t sure what he expected when he walked into the adventurer’s camp, but this wasn’t it.
The camp had a dozen or so different people in it, but all of them were spread out with their own tents and their own fires. No one even spoke to each other. In fact, they all seemed to hold their own separate territory where others were unwelcome. He found the entire thing to be strange.
Still, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. He had no intention of getting to know any of them better. If Sam and Edward hadn’t told him it was a dungeon party, he would have mistaken the entire group for a brigand of bandits.
Upon walking into the camp with Edward and Sam, Edward took him to greet a gruff man in his early twenties who had the largest tent. The man had long blond locks that fell around a cheerful face, standing with what seemed like perfect posture, and a spear at his side. He couldn’t help but feel that the man had the bearing of a leader.
Of course, as soon as they saw the man, Edward, still with lazy smile on his face, started the conversation.
“Ah, here we are.” Turning back to address Dante, Edward continued. “This fool’s name is Lance. He’s the person who started this little party.” Edward gestured to the dozen or so people around them. “Care to guess why his name is Lance?” He finished the last question with a delighted laugh that was almost a giggle.
He was confused by Edward’s question, but after looking over at Lance, and seeing his crimson face, he became slightly interested.
“He calls himself Lance because he has the Lancer Classification!” Edward burst out laughing. “How absurd is that?”
Dante frowned. He didn’t think that Lance changing his name to match his Classification was funny, he thought it was one of the stupidest things he had ever heard. As far as he knew, Combat Classifications went out of their way to wear combatant’s gloves for a reason. It didn’t matter how rare the Lancer Classification was, telling someone else your Classification could easily cost you your life.
That wasn’t the reason he had frowned though, the reason he was frowning was because this moron was the leader of the party he was joining to go into the dungeon.
Edward noticed his frown but only smiled wider. “Anyways Lance, the lad here will be joining our little party into the dungeon. I know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry, he just looks a bit young.” Edward winked at Dante, as if the lie hadn’t been obvious enough before.
Lance’s face was still red, but he seemed to be used to Edwards antics. After glancing over at Dante, he looked doubtful but didn’t seem too troubled. “That’s fine, we need someone to lug around the drops anyway. What’s your Classification kid?”
As far as he knew, asking for a random person’s Classification was one of the largest affronts that someone could commit. He wasn’t too upset though, Lance clearly didn’t think keeping a Classification hidden was important, but his opinion of Lance was steadily falling as the conversation progressed. After mulling it over for a moment, Dante responded. “I’m a Ranger Classification.”
Using the Ranger Classification for cover was the best that he could come up with on short notice, the Classification was somewhat uncommon, but not that rare. He would have posed as a Warrior, the most common combat Classification, but if he was going to be dragging around the loot from the monsters they killed, his lack of strength would give him away. On the other hand, his decently high Agility and Dexterity attributes combined with his Blade Dancer passive would allow him to easily use the Ranger Classification for cover.
Lance looked him over doubtfully. “Really, where is your bow?”
He held back his curse, the fact that a Ranger Classification would generally have some sort of ranged weapon had been a massive oversight on his part. He hadn’t even really thought about weapons since he got his Create Blade skill, any time he needed one he could just create it.
“Well whatever, you won’t need a bow to collect the loot.”
Lance was clearly an idiot. Dante just stared at him blankly, not understanding how he could have survived to be in his early twenties.
“Well, we need to get the lad settled in for the night. Y’know, early morning tomorrow and all that.” Edward winked at Lance, threw his arm around Dante’s shoulder, then led him to the tent where he was staying. “I see that you’re traveling a little light, why not bunk with me?”
Dante didn’t hesitate to follow, he had no interest in staying with the more rugged members of his new party.
When they arrived at the tent, Edward distributed road rations and laid out a blanket for him to sleep on, something that he was more than grateful for.
Sitting by their campfire, Edward looked at him with his lazy smile. “I know what you’re thinking. How could such a brilliant, charismatic, and moral man such as Lance lead this band of misfits and degenerates?” He waved his arm indicating the rugged men and women around him.
Dante winced. “Lance was a bit…”
“Yes, yes.” Edward motioned him to be quiet. “Lance is a bit too amazing, it’s hard to express his excellency with words.” His voice was dripping with sarcasm.
“However.” Dante was thoroughly surprised by the sudden change in Edwards expression, even the lazy smile disappeared for the first time since he had met Edward. “I would suggest you don’t underestimate the imbecile, not everyone relies on a combatant’s glove to hide their true strength.”
Hearing Edwards words he reflected, on the earlier conversation he had with Lance. Lance’s idiocy couldn’t have all been an act, or could it? If he had been trying to disarm him, it had definitely worked. There was no way he would have perceived Lance to be a potential threat without Edwards warning.
He realized his error. All of these people were combat Classifications that had survived years of adventuring and crawling through dungeons, how could any of them just be simple idiots?
Seeing the change in expression on Dante’s face, Edward’s lazy smile returned to his face. “Of course, some people are exactly who you think they are.” Edward gave Dante another wink. “Alright, time to hit the sack, we have quite the long walk tomorrow.”
He was completely miserable.
After Edward made it quite clear that they would have a long walk the following morning, and he had decided it would be for the best to listen to him and go to sleep, he laid down to rest on the blanket that Edward left out for him.
Shortly after, Edward thought it was for the best to place his makeshift sleeping bag down next to him and talk about meaningless things for literally the entire night.
He hadn’t slept at all.
Then, after everyone woke up, he found out that Sam and Edward had been scouting out the dungeon the previous morning when they had stumbled upon him. So, after trekking through the woods the entire day before, he was now walking back to where he started, but this time exhausted from the lack of sleep.
So, he had spent the entire day half asleep, and stumbling through the forest while Edward continued to speak nonsense for the entirety of the journey. He couldn’t fathom where Edward found the energy. He had started talking about different species of mice and what they ate the night before. Then, during the entire trek through the forest the following day, he began to discuss what manner of creatures ate them.
He had actually found the latter conversation to be somewhat interesting. After all, Edward was describing several creatures that he had never heard of before, but due to the lack of sleep, he couldn’t find any interest in Edwards conversation and just wished the man would stop.
They didn’t even talk to Sam once. Sam was visibly happy to let someone else be Edward’s victim.
Never had he thought that he would miss the isolation that the priests in Alazel had provided him.
After a particularly rousing conversation on trolls with Edward, the group, which neared the dungeon, finally stopped to make camp. He didn’t wait for a tent, fire, or even blankets. As soon as the party got to the designated clearing to make camp, he collapsed to the floor and fell asleep.
The next morning, Dante awoke to a kick to his side and Edward’s cheerful smile inches from his face as he inspected his red eyes closely. “Rise and shine. I know you need your beauty rest, but if you don’t get up, we are going to leave without you.”
He was about to curse Edward for waking him up, but after looking around and seeing everyone else in their small party up and ready to go, he realized he had overslept. Dante quickly got up and joined them, his lack of belongings allowed him to be immediately ready.
A short walk later and they came upon a small ravine.
Lance stood in front of the group preparing to debrief everyone on their roles and what position they should take. He found himself interested since this was his first dungeon.
“All right, fall in.” Lance looked the party over, checking to make sure they were paying attention. “Close combat fighters up front, ranged fighters in the back. Edward will scout ahead and fall back during the fighting. Any questions?”
Dante looked at lance, eye twitching. That was it? Everything he said was obvious. He then looked over the other eleven members of the party, all they did was give a nod at Lance’s instructions.
Lance noted Dante’s stupefied expression. “Oh, right. Boy, you will also stay behind during the fighting and collect the loot afterward.”
I don’t care what Edward said, there is no way that he is only acting stupid.
“Alright, enough standing around. We’ll divide the crystals up at the end.” Lance threw an empty sack to Dante, presumably what he was supposed to collect the essence crystals with.
They made their way down the ravine, and he no longer wondered why the dungeon hadn’t been discovered until recently. Not only was the ravine deep, but the only way down was a jagged and treacherous path. No, he didn’t wonder why it hadn’t been discovered, he wondered how it had been discovered.
Travelling deeper, he found that there wasn’t really a bottom to the ravine, the crevice in the earth just slowly got smaller until it the space was too constricting to go deeper.
Just before the ravine seemed like it would be too narrow to travel further, the group came upon a tunnel on the side of the path. Everyone immediately entered it without hesitation, but he had a few misgivings about trusting a narrow cave so deep into the earth. Dante inspected the tunnel thoroughly, checking its safety.
The tunnel would be able to roughly support ten men walking side by side from its width, and was about twice his height. The walls that it was made of seemed to be formed out of compact stone and looked pretty sturdy, so he wasn’t too worried about cave-ins. After looking it over, Dante chased after the others who were already a way’s ahead.
Travelling deeper, it didn’t take long before they came upon a large cavern. One of the mages created a ball of light, then pushed it forward to light up the cave. The cavern was massive, about the size of the town square in Alazel, and around two stories high at its peak. In the middle of the room was several tiny, sickly green, looking human-shaped creatures with pointed ears and sharp fangs.
One of the gruff men in front of him turned to Lance and cursed. “We came all this way for a Goddess damned goblin dungeon?”
Lance looked somewhat vexed. “When I bought the information for this place, the information broker told me that he didn’t know what type of monsters were in the dungeon… no wonder he sold it so cheap.” He scratched the back of his head. “Oh well, we are already here, and it’s better than nothing.”
Dante turned to Edward, who was still by his side. It appeared that scouting didn’t entail much, since the caverns were so enormous and easily visible in the light that the mage had created. “Why are goblin dungeons so bad?”
Edward laughed. “Goblins are stupid, slow, weak, and they reproduce quickly. In other words, the essence crystals they create are weak, and if there is even one goblin in the dungeon, there is most likely only goblins in the dungeon.” At the very least, it seemed that Edward didn’t lose any of his cheer at the knowledge that the dungeon was filled with goblins.
“I thought Sam said that creatures were lured into dungeons to create new monsters, can they simply reproduce instead?”
“Of course, dungeons can lure in creatures to make new monsters, but as long as the dungeon isn’t at capacity, the monsters can reproduce until its filled. If they didn’t, it could take dozens of years for a dungeon to fill up.”
That was interesting. The information made Sam’s remark of people creating dungeons in the inner regions far more feasible. If they had to trap each individual monster and fill the dungeons manually, which would be far larger in the inner region due to the world essence density, it would be an incredible feat. Bringing in a variety of rare and powerful creatures to let them reproduce and fill the dungeon automatically would be far simpler.
Acquiring the new knowledge was a somewhat euphoric feeling. He had never had an opportunity to just ask questions and get a direct answer in the past, and found the experience to be more than delightful.
His nonchalance at the situation, and Edward’s casual laugh during his explanation, awarded them glares from the rest of the party members.
Dante winced. Even though everyone in the party had treated him as if he didn’t exist thus far, aside from Edward and Sam, he had rather enjoyed their acceptance of him as a member of the party and didn’t want to anger them.
Lance grabbed the attention of the group, taking back control and quieting the angry mutters. “Alright, listen up. It’s just a goblin dungeon, so we will break up into three groups and take turns in the caverns, there is no point in all of us wasting our time.”
After drawing lots and breaking into groups, the unlucky group to be chosen first walked into the cavern and utterly demolished the goblins inside. The combatants just walked through them, swinging weapons nonchalantly and effortlessly eradicating anything in their path.
As the goblins died, their bodies disintegrated into dust and then quickly melted into the floor of the dungeon as they collapsed to the floor. The only thing that was left where their corpses should have been were tiny, clear stones that radiated light despite being in a dark cavern. He found the process of the goblins dying and being absorbed into the dungeon completely mesmerizing.
Lance walked up and lightly cuffed Dante, then motioned for him to pick up the essence crystals that were dropping from the dead goblins. Needing no further prodding, Dante began walking around and scavenging the dozen-odd crystals from where the corpses disappeared. After finishing, he rejoined the party, which was waiting for him at the other end of the chamber.
“Over here boy.” Dante walked over to Lance, and Lance took one of the essence crystals out from the sack he was carrying it.
He took a moment to thoroughly inspect the essence crystal, something that he hadn’t been able to do while rushing to pick them up. The crystal was a tiny, jagged shard that was roughly the size of an acorn. After Lance took the crystal in his hand, he squeezed it. Crushing the crystal in his palm. “Only five world essence.”
All of the party members released a groan. Apparently, it was far lower than they had expected, but he actually thought that it was a pretty decent amount for how easy the fight was. Besides, they were still only in the first chamber and had gotten over a dozen. In comparison, the wolves only gave him around nine world essence, but they seemed far more powerful than these goblins.
As they began to move through the corridor that led to the next cavern, Dante turned to Edward. “How long until the goblins come back?”
“Hmm.” Edward paused and looked around the cavern. “Given the density of the world essence, I would say… maybe a few months.”
Dante blinked. “That long?”
His question elicited a laugh from Edward. “Where do you think you are? This is the Outer Edge region, given the density here, the monsters will come back at the slowest speed possible.”
That did make some sense, but now his plan of coming back and clearing the dungeon by himself was ruined.
The group progressed through the caverns relatively unhindered. By the time they began to make their way to the last cavern, presumably where the dungeon boss would be, they had already cleared seventeen rooms in total. He was unsure of exactly how many essence crystals he had collected, but the large sack he had been given was almost full of the acorn-sized crystals, and he had to sling it over his shoulder to bear its weight.
The mage lit up the cavern ahead of them, but it seemed empty aside from the large boulders that were scattered across the floor.
Lance, who was ahead of the group and peering into the cavern addressed Edward. “Go scout ahead, this is the last room, so the dungeon boss should be in there somewhere.”
“Of course.” Edward, lazy smile on his face, walked nonchalantly towards the cavern.
As he neared Lance, who was still facing forward and looking for the dungeon boss, Edward wrapped his left hand around Lance’s head, yanked him off balance, then plunged a dagger into his back.