The Only Thing I Can Upgrade is Strength chapter 165

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We could no longer rely on seeing the spiders coming from far off, which was a problem for those who needed to attack from range… but Socks became more adept at detecting the sneaky passages off to the side that they would hide in. With Halette and Kasner hanging back further while Alhorn and I drew the enemies out, everything worked almost like normal. Sometimes the spiders seemed to know we were ready and wouldn’t come out, in which case Halette and Kasner sprinted past with Kantrilla. All of us gathering together momentarily caused them to start coming, but by the time they could get out of their hidey holes, we were already back in a usable formation. It helped that we could have Khyrmin and Socks both guarding the back flank.

We continued exploring the second floor, and after two days we were almost certain it was the final floor of the dungeon. The exits were generally on opposite ends of each floor, but it was possible there was one in an odd place- and we hadn’t completely explored the second floor. We hadn’t found a boss yet, for one thing. Even in a relatively new, smaller dungeon, there would be a boss- especially if the dungeon was worried about its core being destroyed. Since the plan was to destroy the dungeon, we needed to clear everything including the boss. The more things we killed before provoking its final attacks, the fewer enemies it would have less to come at us with.

Eventually, we came upon a larger room. With careful use of light we were able to see that the room widened out and went deeper. Socks whined. “Enemies? Lots of them?” Halette asked.” Socks nodded, but whined more. “Is there also a big one.” Socks nodded, then just growled at the room ahead.

“Okay everyone, gather around,” Kantrilla said and started giving people various kinds of blessings. She would save about half of her mana for emergency barriers and healing, but with a Blessing of Dexterity or something similar, people could avoid being injured in the first place. 

As we entered the room, we looked around, trying to spot spiders. I didn’t see any on the floor or walls, and I also didn’t see any against the inky black of the ceiling. There were only webs criss-crossing the room. It was only a moment before Alhorn tossed light up higher in the room, and then I realized the inky black had just been nothing instead. The ceiling went up much higher, as evidenced by the light being able to move up twenty feet before we spotted anything besides webs. We had remained near the edge of the room, because there was no point in letting ourselves be surrounded. It was practice that had kept us near the edge even though we saw nothing… and that kept us from being surrounded as spiders lowered down from the ceiling throughout the room.

As the spiders lowered, Alhorn continued to move his light upwards, and at about forty feet high we spotted the biggest spider I had ever seen. Technically anything slightly bigger than anything else in the dungeon would have fit that description, but this one had an abdomen the size of Socks- a gigantic wolf- perhaps ten feet from fangs to back. Then its legs stuck out to the side another fifteen feet or so.

I had been wondering if the sight of so many spiders had shocked Halette into inaction, but it seems her fear had been tempered with some form of strategy. As soon as the boss spider came into view, an arrow flew out. Then another, and another. Halette was normally accurate- those long hours of practice weren’t for nothing- but I never saw her more accurate than when shooting out spider eyes. Even with the webs throughout the room, her arrows struck true. The largest eyes were several inches across, and Halette shot three arrows into one of them before moving on to other eyes, stepping back and forth to get a better view.

Kasner froze some of the strands that the spiders were hanging down on, intentionally doing so unevenly so that the strands snapped. Alhorn, Socks, and I all started towards the enemies we could reach. Khyrmin stayed back to watch for other enemies.

Even though the spiders themselves weren’t intelligent, the way they were set up by the dungeon had some strategy to it. However, we weren’t going to wait for it to come to fruition. There weren’t any web shooting spiders on the ceiling, since they would be too far away- those webs only extended perhaps ten feet. However, along with dropping down on strand of web, many spiders crawled along the webs strewn throughout the room.

More spiders- mostly ‘smaller’ ones about a foot long, came out from various points around the room. Kasner had started freezing the webs around, and Kantrilla broke them at their weak points, creating more room for us to maneuver. Alhorn, Socks, and I were all dealing with the spiders one at a time. Each one barely took a single blow, but they were almost immediately replaced by another… or two others. Khyrmin took care of anything that got past us.

Then Kasner started freezing over the floor. I didn’t know why he was doing it at first, but then I saw the myriad tiny spiders that were crawling along the floor. It was entirely possible that they couldn’t hurt us, but if their venom was potent enough I really didn’t want to find out. 

Then the large spider started lowering towards the floor. The strand of web it trailed behind it was as thick as a hemp rope, which made sense because no matter how strong web was, it could only support so much. I could barely make out its figure as it started lowering down, even though Alhorn was doing his best to keep fighting while lighting up the area. Khyrmin’s light source was enough to cover us on the ground, but we needed to see the air above as well.

Behind me, Halette cursed. “I’m out of arrows!”

With that, the spider queen twisted around… and I saw only two eyes on its head. Each of the other eyes had no fewer than three arrows, and the largest ones had perhaps a dozen. I was only guessing there were eyes behind all the feathers and wood.

Even with all that, most of the arrows weren’t deep enough to cause serious harm- beyond nearly blinding the spider queen anyway. It lowered slowly, and it was only ten feet below the ceiling, with several times that to go before it reached the ground- though it would touch the ground about ten feet sooner than I would. Seeing it lowering slowly, I thought about physics. Then I threw my adamantine dagger at the strand of web. I just barely remembered to rage before I did that, but I doubted we were going to stay around after this battle. I could afford to use everything I had.

The adamantine knife sliced through half of the strand… but it was still strong enough to hold up the spider queen… until I pulled the knife back around. It sliced through, but the distraction left me open to an attack by one of the ‘normal sized’ spiders. I crushed it with the butt of my spear as I watched above me.

As the spider queen fell, I spent a good portion of my mana activating Martial Trance as I moved towards where it was falling. That was both to keep track of its motion, and also to think about what I was doing. I hoped it was the right thing.

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