(Patreon) Strength Chapter 44

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With everything that had happened since coming to the capital, I hadn’t actually seen the dungeon we were planning to explore. Ekralas was a big city, and since I had to walk everywhere I hadn’t yet done much exploring. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I had heard dungeons were very mysterious.

Once I saw the wall, I thought we had reached the edge of the city. That was strange, because the dungeon was supposed to be inside the city. Once I looked more carefully, though, I figured out what was going on. The wall stretched to the left and the right… but stopped. We were nowhere near the edge of the city, but merely at a walled off section of the city. It seemed to be about the size of a city block.

I could see guards on the wall, facing inward. That was part of what had made me think it was the edge of the city. I couldn’t see the other sides, but I thought it was probably a box that surrounded the dungeon. We continued walking, moving around a corner of the wall before we came into sight of an archway leading inward.

Once we got closer to the arch and could see an angle inside, I could see how thick the walls were. They were nearly ten feet thick, and I could see a portcullis on each end of the archway through the wall. There were also murder holes where those on the wall could fire down into the area below. It was a good defensive position, but the fact that it was there at all was actually somewhat intimidating.

Once we actually stepped in front of the archway, I saw the dungeon. I hadn’t known exactly what to expect, but it wasn’t this. If I had grown up in this world, I probably would have heard about what dungeons looked like, but nobody bothered to mention it to me. The dungeon looked like someone had cut a wide rectangle out of a picture, leaving behind a pure black background. No light reflected off it, which made it strangely hard to tell how big it was or how far away. Only by looking at the ground and walls around it did I start to get a scale for its size. It only took up about a third of the width of the courtyard, but that was still very large. It wasn’t as tall as the walls around- the walls themselves were about twenty feet tall- but it was close.

“Whoa.” That was all I could say.

Kantrilla nodded, “It’s… darker than I thought anything could be.”

Hallette laughed, “That’s what I thought the first time I saw it too! It’s so creepy. Socks didn’t want to go inside.” Socks gave a short whine in acknowledgement of that.

“Uh… speaking of which, how do we get inside?” I looked at it and couldn’t see any entrance. On the other hand, with its strange properties… would I?

Alhorn answered that, “A-ah well, you see… it’s around the other side.” He tapped his helmet with his gauntleted finger, “You don’t want monsters to just be able to get out and into the city do you?”

I shook my head, “Does that happen often?”

“Well, no. That’s what the defenses are for, and people entering the dungeon to slay the monsters. At most you might get someone who was overconfident running out with a goblin or two behind them. It’s mostly for the worst case scenario.”

“I suppose some inconvenience for the sake of safety is expected.” I looked at the structure as we walked around. Going around the corner was a strange feeling. “Is it safe to touch?”

Kasner slapped me on the back, which gave me a brief shock. “Ha, afraid? Don’t worry, it hasn’t hurt anyone yet.”

I went up to touch the wall… and found a rough texture that I couldn’t see. “It’s… brick?”

Hallette grinned, “That’s right! It’s some kind of brick. It just happens to be black and spooky.”

When we reached the other side of the dungeon, I could see the entrance… more or less. There was a place I could tell light was going in, though the exact dimensions of the entrance were somewhat hard to discern. There was an opening around ten foot square in the middle of the face, but I couldn’t see much more than that until we walked up to it. I could see it led down to a stairway, though I couldn’t make out the stairs. The only thing that made them visible were two strips of cloth on either side, conforming to the stairs as they went down. Presumably, the stairs continued between them as well. “Well, that’s convenient. We don’t have to feel our way down.”

“That’s the point,” Kasner nodded, puffing himself up as big as he could look as he began his explanation, “Why do you think people put them there? Before that, they tried torch sconces, but even though the dungeon walls aren’t invincible, they’re quite hard… and they grow back. Anything placed into them is forced out at some point. Of course, this also counts the ceiling and floor. All of the dungeon material grows back given time.”

“Is that so?” I stroked my chin, “Does anyone take bricks from it and build other buildings?”

Kasner clapped once in an enthusiastic manner, “Oh, that’s a great idea Llyr! Unfortunately, dungeon material crumbles into dust once it’s separated from the dungeon.”

“Is the dust useful for anything?”

“Huh?” Kasner raised an eyebrow, “Oh, it just gets smaller and smaller, then disappears.”

“Tch. How conveniently magical.” I shook my head.

We started walking down the stairs. It was almost like walking down stairs blind, but fortunately they were flat and regular so I didn’t trip… and the cloth on the sides helped. I still almost tripped when I got to the flat corridor, even though I saw people were standing on it. Kasner tapped his tiny little staff on the ground and the tip started glowing, and we started to head down a corridor. That gave me the strangest feeling of walking through a black void.

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