Dante’s Immortality – Chapter 7
Joseph was fucked.
After leaving Alazel with Roderick’s 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. The man had no enchanted stone on his person. Initially he didn’t think much of it, perhaps Isaac had pushed him off of it so he could keep the stone for himself. It was even possible that he just fell from 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 his 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 on the man’s face.
“Can you at least track his clothing?”
“I might have been able to if his clothing was closer, but my range is far too limited if I’m not tracking people, who continuously give off scent. I’ve already checked and I can’t pick up a trail.”
Looking down at the body he shuddered.
“Was the man 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 the 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. After that moment’s hesitation, he gave a defeated sigh and followed Herman back to Alazel.
Dante 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, who were spread out with their own tents and their own fires. No one 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.
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, he stood with a straight back and square shoulders, a spear at his side. Dante couldn’t help but feel like the man had a bearing of a leader.
Of course, as soon as they saw the man, Edward, still with lazy smile on his face started off the conversation.
“Ah, here we are.” Turning back to address Dante he continued. “This fool’s name is Lance, he’s the person who started this little party.” He 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 giggle.
Dante was confused by Edwards question but 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 the man changing his name to match his Classification was funny, he thought it was one of the stupidest things he had ever heard. Combat Classifications went out of their way to wear combatant’s gloves for a reason, it didn’t matter how rare the man’s 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 party into the dungeon. I know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry his total level is sufficient.”
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 anyways. What’s your Classification kid?”
As far as he knew, asking for someone’s Classification was one of the largest affronts one could commit. Dante wasn’t too upset, the man 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 he responded.
“I’m a Ranger Classification.”
Using the Ranger Classification for cover was the best Dante could come up with on short notice, the class 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 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 easily use the Ranger Classification for cover.
Lance looked him over doubtfully. “Really, where is your bow?”
He had overlooked the fact that Ranger Classifications mainly focused on ranged combat. That almost always meant the use of a bow. 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.”
This man was clearly an idiot. Dante just stared at the man blankly, not understanding how he could have survived to be in his early 20’s.
“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 travelling a little light, why not bunk with me?”
Back at the tent Edward began to cook food and lay out a blanket for Dante to sleep on.
Sitting by the fire the eccentric man looked at him with his lazy smile. “I know what you’re thinking. How could such a brilliant, charismatic, and morale 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 shocked by the sudden change in the man’s face, even the lazy smile disappeared. “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, Edwards smile returned to his face. “Of course, some people are exactly who you think they are.” He finished with a wink.
“Alright, time to hit the sack we have quite the long walk tomorrow.”
Dante was completely miserable.
After Edward made it quite clear that they would have a long walk the following morning, and Dante 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 Dante and babble on for literally the entire night.
Dante 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, around where they had stumbled upon him. So, after tracking through the woods the entire day before, he was now walking back to where he started.
So, Dante spent the entire day, half asleep, stumbling through the forest while Edward continued to speak nonsense for the entire day. He couldn’t fathom where the man found the energy. He had started the night before talking about different species of mice that were located in the surrounding forest and what they ate, then during the entire track through the forest the following day he began to discuss what manner of creatures ate them.
Dante had actually found the latter conversation to be somewhat interesting. After all, Edward was discussing all manner of creatures which 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. He didn’t talk to Sam once, the man seemed visibly happy not to be Edward’s victim. He had never thought that he would miss the time he spent alone in Alazel.
After a particularly rousing conversation on trolls with Edward; the group, which neared the dungeon, finally stopped to make camp. Dante didn’t wait for a tent, a fire, or even blankets. As soon as the men got to the designated clearing he collapsed to the floor and fell asleep.
The next morning, he awoke to a kick to his side and Edward’s cheerful smile inches from his face. The man was bent over him examining his eyes. “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 the man, but looking around and seeing everyone else in their small party up and ready to go, he realized he had overslept. He quickly got up and joined them, his lack of belongings meant that he was immediately ready to go.
A short walk later, they came upon a small ravine. Lance stood in front of the group giving directions and assigning roles. Dante 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 the man dumbly. That was it? Everything he said was obvious. He looked over the other 11 members of the party, all they did was 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 after.”
I don’t care what Edward said, there is no way this man is only acting stupid.
“Alright, enough standing around. We’ll divide the crystals up at the end.” He threw a 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, treacherous path. No, he didn’t wonder why it hadn’t been discovered, he wondered how it had been discovered.
Travelling deeper, he discovered there was no actual bottom to the ravine, the crevice in the earth just slowly got smaller. 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, Dante had some misgivings though, he inspected the tunnel thoroughly, checking its safety.
The tunnel would be able to roughly support ten men walking side to side from its width, and was about twice Dante’s height. The stone that the tunnel was made of seemed to be formed out of compact stone and looked very sturdy, so he wasn’t too worried about cave-ins. After looking it over, he chased after the others who were up ahead.
Travelling deeper, it didn’t take long before they came upon a large cavern. One of the mages used a skill that lit up the entire place. The thing was massive, about the size of the town square in Alazel and two stories high at its peak. In the middle of the room were several tiny, sickly green, looking human shaped creatures with pointed ears and sharp fangs.
One of the men in front of him turned to Lance and cursed. “We came all this way for a Goddess damned goblin dungeon?”
Lance scratched his head looking somewhat vexed. “When I bought the information for this place the information broker told me he didn’t know what type of monsters where in the dungeon… no wonder he sold it so cheap. 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 the mage in the party created. “Why are goblin dungeons so bad?”
He 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, are you saying that they can 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 would take years for a dungeon to fill up.”
That was interesting, the information made Sam’s remark of people creating dungeons in the inner region far more feasible to him. 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.
Dante was thrilled at acquiring the new knowledge. He had never had an opportunity to just ask questions and get a direct answer in the past, and found the experience to be delightful.
His nonchalance at the situation, and Edward’s casual laugh during his explanation, awarded them the glares of the rest of the members of the party. He winced. Even though everyone in the party seemed to treat him as if he didn’t exist, aside from Edward, he had rather enjoyed their acceptance of him as a member of the party and didn’t want to anger them.
“All right, 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 first group walked into the cavern and utterly demolished the goblins inside. As the goblins died their bodies disintegrated, quickly melting into the floor of the dungeon. The only thing that was left where their corpses fell were tiny, glowing white stones. He found the process of the goblins dying and being absorbed by the dungeon to be completely mesmerizing.
Lance walked up and lightly cuffed him, indicating him to pick up the essence crystals that dropped from the dead goblins. He began walking around scavenging the dozen odd crystals from where the corpses disappeared. That done he rejoined the party who were waiting at the other end of the chamber.
“Over here boy.” Dante walked over to Lance, the man took one of the essence crystals out from the sack he had been collecting them in. He inspected it. The crystal was a tiny, rough, jagged shard that was roughly the size of an acorn. After Lance took the crystal in his hand, he squeezed it, crushing it in his palm. “Only 5 world essence.”
The rest of the party members groaned. Dante actually thought that was a pretty decent amount for how easy the fight was and that this was only the first chamber. The wolves only gave him 6-7 world essence, but they seemed far more powerful than these goblins.
“How long until the goblins will come back?” He asked while turning back to Edward.
“Hmm.” He 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 farming the monsters in the dungeon were 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 17 caverns. He was unsure of exactly how many essence crystals he had collected, but the large sack he had been given was almost full 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.
Lance, who was ahead of the group and peering into the cavern, addressed Edward. “Go scout ahead, this is the last cavern so the dungeon boss should be in there.”
“Of course.” Edward, lazy smile on his face, walked forward nonchalantly towards the cavern.
As he neared Lance, who was still facing the cavern, he wrapped his left hand around Lance’s head, yanked him towards him, then plunged a dagger through his back.