Without the minotaur boss in front of them, the few minotaurs coming down the trap hallway didn’t have much chance against us. They too were too big to easily fall down the side pits… but that just meant they got stuck halfway in and were easier to hit with arrows or a nice dagger to the eye. That resulted in their axes falling down to the next level… but we could live with that.
After that we checked to make sure there were no more enemies before we could finally take a break. Even so, we moved a bit away from the area to avoid any more minotaurs drawn by the boss’ cry. Sadly enough, the boss didn’t have any magical gear… but it wouldn’t have been the right size to use anyway and would have made him harder to fight. I could lift minotaur’s axes without issue, but they were made for bigger hands.
Kantrilla patched up our various wounds, fortunately nothing deep except one cut on Socks, and then collapsed herself. Barriers and healing magic were hard work, especially when the barriers were done with precise timing and sufficient power to hinder minotaurs.
After our break- which included eating and drinking to help restore some of our energy- we were ready to move on. We probably couldn’t fight another boss or anything big, but there were never that many bosses. We also weren’t on the lowest floor yet, so we didn’t have to worry about accidentally approaching the dungeon core.
“Hmm, seems safe…” Halette carefully checked the pressure plates the minotaurs had triggered on the way to us. “They shouldn’t be able to activate again without time to reset- not that they’d be able to reset if this were actually constructed. The dungeon will basically have to rebuild them.”
“Could it reset behind us somehow?” Alhorn asked. “Normally it would take longer, but dungeons aren’t always that consistent.”
“It shouldn’t be able to, but who knows. I’ll check again on the way back. At the very least, we can be pretty sure there won’t be a boss unless there’s another one ready nearby somewhere.”
Carlos was doing an excellent job carrying the axes and bits of armor the minotaurs left behind- and the magic cores. It was a good thing I had broken through the wall or he might have been trapped with the minotaurs outside the trap hallway. While he might be able to take a single minotaur, he couldn’t beat a handful. That was one risk of taking a pack animal along with us, but he was so helpful. We just had to be aware of him as another party member that didn’t provide significant fighting force.
Beyond the trap hallway, we didn’t find much of interest. There were only a few hallways that mostly lead back towards the previous floor and then there was the entrance to the third floor. Of course, there were also a couple groups of minotaurs around but we swiftly dealt with them. We just checked down the stairs to see if there was anything of note, but didn’t go any further.
“Tricky,” Kasner noted, “The trap up there drops people down to the third floor, but the hallway here goes off to either side- it would have been a long way around if you couldn’t get back up. Probably filled with guesswork too. So even though it seems near the stairs, it really isn’t.”
I brought up my thoughts, “It is pretty bad… is this normal? Having a trap room so near the stairs?” Nobody had an answer then, but you could be sure we went to look it up as soon as we were out of the dungeon. There wasn’t any exact answer we could find, which was continually annoying, but generally it wouldn’t be the case. Then I heard a frightening story from another incident.
Yuri watched as Larr, the halfling paladin, drove his dagger through the eye of a goblin. It was strange to rely on someone even smaller than himself as a front line fighter… but he couldn’t say their group made much sense. Sure, Arara Firahel was an elf and a wizard… but he was also the sort of elf that had come from Fepresil to stay in Ekralas because he liked the smell of big cities. Yuri had never really considered the smell something positive, especially on the streets. Dungeons weren’t too bad though.
Beyond Yuri himself whose missing arm and leg and relative youth would have made him not even vaguely considered to be a member of an adventuring party, there was also a druid with the group… and druids didn’t have that many things they could really do in a dungeon. Sure, some druids used elemental magic and could conjure attacks that way, but Luth was a plant druid. For that, he had to bring his own plant. Since Luth couldn’t manage carrying large vines or anything with him, all he had was his staff… which was a sapling that Luth somehow kept alive. He was quite adept at taking down goblins with it… and Yuri had grown fond of him and the rest of the strange group they had. He also provided the group’s primary light spell, not an especially druidy thing… but light was part of nature.
“Phew,” Luth breathed out heavily as the last goblin went down, “I don’t think we’re ready to try the third level yet. These armored goblins can be a pain.”
“Yeah,” Yuri nodded. “Plus it’s hard to carry all this junk…” Yuri had a bag he could sling over his shoulder full of loot- which also meant he could drop it for battle. Or rather, he had to since he needed a hand to fight, and it was already hard enough to move around in combat.
Arara nodded, “I can also barely keep up with the traps here. Awareness isn’t exactly a wizard skill, and it takes time to train. I- quiet.” Arara held up a finger to his lips and the other hand to his pointed ear. “It’s… something big. A boss?”
Larr shook his head, “Let’s go then. We’re not in the best shape to fight a boss.” As he spoke, he started moving back towards the entrance of the dungeon… but immediately after that the sound of heavy footsteps rang out loud enough that even Yuri could hear them clearly. They were loud… and swift. The sound indicated there must have been very hard boots… at least, that was what Yuri thought until the minotaur came into sight of Luth’s light spell, charging towards them. Larr saw the minotaur coming and turned back towards the group, “Run!” He charged forward and grabbed Yuri by his waist, lifting him off the ground hanging both in front and behind Larr, “Drop that stupid bag!”
Yuri had enough sense in his head to listen and dropped the bag immediately. However, he was swinging all over the place. He could see over his shoulder that Luth and Arara were getting ahead of them… but the minotaur gaining behind them. “I- let me down! You can’t run fast enough while carrying me, even like this I’m too heavy!”
“What.” Larr’s voice rose with each word, “Did. You. JUST. SAY!?” Larr’s boots pounded on the ground rapidly and he was breathing heavily, both from the previous fight and his current exertion. “I’M NOT SLOW OR WEAK OR THE KIND OF PERSON WHO LEAVES SOMEONE BEHIND!” Yuri hadn’t really meant to imply any of those things, but there wasn’t really any time to explain. “NOW MAKE YOURSELF USEFUL AND THROW SOMETHING!” Larr took large but rapid breaths as his lungs strained to outpace the minotaur… or at least keep it slightly behind him.
Larr’s yelling snapped Yuri out of his confusion. Certainly, he was still facing the right way to see the minotaur… every time his head bumped up, anyway. It certainly wouldn’t be easy to attack from his position… but what was all that training for if he couldn’t deal with even the slightest difficulty? He reached to pull out a throwing dagger… and hoped it would hit its target.