The Only Thing I Can Upgrade is Strength chapter 164

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As we move back through the first floor of the dungeon, Khyrmin commented, “This is definitely a newer dungeon… even a smaller one like this would produce monsters more quickly if it had been around for a few decades. Usually it’s hard for a single group to clear them out. We’re lucky to be able to pull ahead some with that… though we don’t know exactly how big the second floor is yet, or if there’s a third.”

We spent an hour clearing out the first floor and marking where hallways had changed. We needed to be consistent with that so we wouldn’t run into any surprises- we never wanted to run into unexpected monsters when we were exhausted and trying to leave to go rest.

The first batch of spiders we met on the second floor were the normal sort, without any fancy web slinging. The second group had them, and that meant we got to use our practice right away. I still couldn’t distinguish the two types immediately- we still couldn’t see them very far away if we were conserving our mana. That meant I ended up with my shield webbed from one crawling on the ground.

I looked up to see another on the ceiling, and two over by Alnherr. Maybe there were more coming up behind, though I couldn’t be sure. Alhorn would hold his off without issue, but neither of us could stop the one on the ceiling- or rather, my hands were currently full, and I didn’t want to throw away my only weapon when a spider could drag me in to bite me. Even a moment of being unarmed could be a problem.

I pretended to back away, pulling on the large web strand with my shield. When the spider pulled back, I rushed forward, using my own power and the extra pulling force to move quicker than the spider expected. My spear stabbed out straight ahead, and right through the mouth of the spider. 

Then I turned towards the one on the ceiling… but by that point it had already been knocked off by Kasner. Kantrilla had stepped forward to smash its relatively softer underbelly with her mace. At the back of the party, there had been a couple more spiders who had moved in from side tunnels we hadn’t been able to explore yet.

The white mist of experience flowed out from the quickly disappearing remains of the spiders, though I really wished that it would avoid gathering around me in particular. We collected a couple small magic gems that were all that remained of the dungeon monsters, and proceeded onwards.

We encountered a few more groups of spiders, and I thought we were quite fortunate that the webs faded after they died. Not immediately, but we didn’t have to spend time scraping webs off of our weapons. If it had remained material we might have been able to gather it to use as valuable spider silk, but not if we mangled it by not having proper tool. It was best that it went away, even if we could use the money.

After we walked a bit down what was currently the third and final branch near the entrance to the second floor, Socks whined. We looked around for where the spiders might be, but didn’t see any. Alhorn sent a bit of light further down the hallway, and I poked the ceiling with my spear to make sure it wasn’t higher than it looked, but we found nothing. Socks started scrabbling against a wall next to us.

Halette started checking it to try to find out if it was a secret door of some sort, but then Socks got fully on her hind legs up against the wall. When she was standing next to me, Socks was already about the same height as me. She was a bit longer than I was tall, and that was without stretching out her legs behind her. Socks could just about poke the nearly ten foot ceiling with her nose when she was fully up like that. As she did that, her muzzle sunk into the wall and pulled out a spider, flinging it to the floor and pouncing on it. Or rather, instead of sinking into the wall there was probably just an opening there that we couldn’t see. With our lights and heads down below, they hadn’t illuminated anything.

As Socks pulled out the first spider, more of them started pouring out onto the ceiling from either side, looking like they appeared from nowhere. I wasn’t exactly ready for that particular occurrence but it didn’t stop me from stabbing one as quickly as I could.

Several of them shot strands of web in a criss-crossing pattern, and I dodged one that I saw- but one hit me from behind. At the same time, several of them dropped down to attack. As I turned to deal with the one that had webbed me, I saw Kasner had been webbed by several of them. He was being pulled in two directions, and had been lifted up off the floor. There were more spiders than usual and I couldn’t afford to hold back anything in the unexpected situation.

I activated Rage, feeling even more Strength than I normally had. I stepped forward, tugging against the web on me- the spider or web would give out before I would. My spear flew towards one of the spiders who had webbed Kasner, piercing through it. Just as I pulled it back to me with Return Weapon, Khyrmin’s sword flashed and severed all of the webs on Kasner, letting him drop to the ground. I still thought I made the right choice, since Khyrmin wouldn’t always be around to bail us out. 

I turned to make sure Alhorn was doing alright- one of the spiders near him was already full of arrows in its eyes, and he’d chopped a leg off another with his sword. I pulled down on the web that was now over the top of my head attached to my back, and what gave out first was the spider’s grip on the ceiling- though it took basically my full weight for that to happen. As the spider fell, my spear came up to stab it back up into the ceiling. 

The weight on the end of my spear made me have to step forward as it dropped, and I stomped on the spider as it hit the floor to pull my spear out. Everything around the back was dead, mostly through Khyrmin’s effort but not exclusively. There were only a couple more spiders near Alhorn, and I moved around to stay out of Halette’s way as she continued to shoot the spiders. With a couple more stabs from me and swings of Alhorn’s sword, we had over a dozen spider corpses around the party.

I breathed heavily, ending Rage. It was clear the spiders still had a few more tricks for us to learn. We advanced down the hallway for a short while, happy that it came to a dead end we could mark off- and finding no more small passages near the top of the walls. At least, Socks didn’t smell any spiders and as I dragged my spear up against the top of the wall I didn’t feel any openings elsewhere. We returned back to the outside to rest.

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