The Only Thing I Can Upgrade is Strength chapter 193

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We proceeded cautiously, unsure if the wall would be triggered to split our party somehow. There were no pressure plates immediately in front of us- Halette could see that- but often such things were triggered by monsters moving towards people entering the area. We moved into the hallway and had Halette keep a lookout for what might be around us. The first to notice something was Socks, who whined. “Minotaurs?” One bark. “A big one?” Another bark. Socks wasn’t able to communicate with words, so Halette had to ask good questions. “Seems like a boss then.” Socks confirmed that with a final bark.

Alhorn could keep up a larger area of light since the last time we were here, so we saw the pressure plate shortly before the minotaur boss came into view. It stepped onto the pressure plate as it roared and charged towards us, and though it was something we expected… it was still disconcerting to hear the mechanisms activate and floors fall out on either side. The wall came down just behind me, and as it was falling I could see it was a good foot thick. Halette was already shooting arrows at the minotaur boss, but I had a job to do back here.

We wanted the option to retreat, and though I didn’t have a perfect tool for the job I could still provide. Even at a foot thick, the dungeon brick wasn’t all that tough- maybe tougher than normal brick, but not as sturdy as solid stone. My first swing broke a small hole through, maybe just a couple bricks tall and one wide. Then I turned back to see the minotaur boss. Before he got too close, I needed to throw my dagger. As it approached, it suddenly slipped. It almost fell over the side, but it was too big to easily fit down the holes on either side- it just stuck out an arm to hold itself up. However, that let Halette get a shot in its armpit. It was still over ten yards away from the party, so I hit the wall a couple more times. Honestly, it was exhausting work- every swing took a lot out of me since I couldn’t hold back if I wanted to break through. Just halfway breaking through was a waste of effort.

The minotaur boss had struggled to its feet and was moving towards the group step by step… but no longer charging. Kasner tried once to catch a foot in a chunk of ice, but it just ripped it away from the floor with little effort. It stomped along breaking through the layer of ice he had created… but it moved without the benefit of its speed. It hadn’t yet reached Alhorn or Socks yet, but this would probably be my last chance to throw the dagger without worrying too much. I shouted a warning to the party, “Throwing on the right!” as I proceeded to do just that. I didn’t want anyone to lean into the path of my attack, a bigger possibility because we had less horizontal space to stand. My dagger flew into the thigh of the minotaur, being slightly deflected by the armor but still penetrating into it. Unfortunately, its thighs were huge so the damage probably wasn’t all that great. I used Return Weapon to pull the dagger back and saw it only went at most an inch or two into the muscle.

Socks was ready to charge forward at that point, and Alhorn followed just behind. I still had to deal with the wall. Crash, crunch, crackle… and the final bit of a vaguely human sized outline was there. Then I kicked the middle of it and it fell over to reveal… well, more blackness mostly. Alhorn’s light shone through enough to reveal no enemies were immediately there. “I’m done!” I called forward.

Alhorn and Socks had been keeping the minotaur off balance, but it had gotten a couple swings in, mostly stopped by their armor and Kantrilla’s Barrier spell. There wasn’t much room for them to dodge, so they had to take the hits- though they had still avoided vital spots. Kasner summoned a huge block of ice attaching one leg of the minotaur boss to the ground, and Alhorn and Socks pulled away, with everyone who was already at the back running towards me. I stepped through the hole first.

The minotaur boss howled in rage, and I vaguely heard the sound of stomping hooves from much past it… and down the hallway we were now in. However, as the remains of the wall sort of got pulled back into the ceiling, we knew we made the right choice. Now we might end up being attacked from two sides, but that was better than getting attacked from two sides on a narrow path. 

“Minotaurs down the hall!” Halette called out, though everyone could probably hear them. 

As for the wall into the hallway… it only sort of got pulled back up. About halfway up, it got stuck because of the bricks sticking out. The mechanisms lifting it didn’t have that much extra power, apparently. 

Because of what we did, the timing of the trap was all off. The minotaurs ‘behind’ us started to come in from the surrounding side corridors we had just passed a handful of yards or so before the start of the trap passageway. However, we were ready for them and quickly took out the first pair- one with my dagger through its eye, and Socks pounced on another and tore out its throat. Killing one or two at a time was easy… and since they weren’t quite all together, we just had to do that in sequence… hopefully before the boss got to us. There were also minotaurs coming down the trap corridor behind it.

We took out the second group just as the minotaur boss got to the trap wall, where it slowed as it half broke through and half ducked under what was left. It was closer than the last time, and I had retrieved my dagger again. Socks was moving to hold off the minotaurs in the last split corridor, and Alhorn was moving to come block the boss. I didn’t have a good shot at most of the minotaur, but my dagger stuck into its chest… strong enough to get stuck in its armor. I moved forward with my mace out, standing to the right while Alhorn stood to the left. Alhorn stepped up first, and the minotaur boss swung at him… leaving it open on my side. My mace slammed into the side of its knee, helpfully just at waist height for me, a good swinging height. With the sound of bending metal and breaking bone, it toppled to the floor and its axe swing went wide, slicing into the wall. Alhorn took the chance to step forward and stab his sword up under its breastplate into its guts. Fortunately, they would fade into nothingness soon after it died. Behind us, the final minotaurs were cleaned up by Socks, Halette, and Kasner. After making sure the minotaur boss was fading and therefore dead, I almost collapsed against the wall. Rage was tiring, and my mace wasn’t meant for breaking through walls… and no matter how much Strength I had, using it inefficiently was tiring. However, there were still more minotaurs coming from behind where the boss had been. Presumably they had been the ones to trigger the release on the wall.

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