Our party was quite experienced with fighting groups of goblins- even if they had armor we could usually take individuals out in a single hit, or within a few traded blows. Likewise, we could take down a minotaur or two without much trouble. However, fighting both mixed together was much harder. When a minotaur was charging at you and you had three goblins around you, what were you supposed to do? Ignoring the goblins to kill the minotaur wasn’t a good idea, but exclusively taking down the goblins was dangerous as well.
That’s why fighting alone was no good. One or two people couldn’t handle everything. I used Whirlwind Attack to bowl over four goblins in front of me with my mace, three of which died from the blows. Halette shot arrows into a charging minotaur while Alhorn fought off another handful of goblins on the other side of the hallway. When Kasner formed ice under the minotaur’s feet sending it crashing to the ground, Socks leapt on it and ripped out its throat. Kantrilla provided the important barrier that kept me from getting hurt by the goblins when using a whirlwind attack- I couldn’t exactly deflect all their blows while doing a swing like that. Sure, my armor could block their attacks… but a barrier absorbed blows to the head without the risk of a concussion. Fortunately, even if I did get a concussion, magic could help heal it instead of waiting weeks… or months.
Halette shook her head, “I hope the dungeon can’t keep up this kind of monster production indefinitely. While it’s not quite like fighting one group from each dungeon added together, it’s more than just half of each…”
“Agreed,” Alhorn nodded, “Though perhaps there are fewer groups… it’s just that fewer adventuring parties are down here thinning the numbers. Unfortunately, the minotaurs and goblins work together quite well.”
“What would you expect?” Kasner shrugged, “Dungeon magic is responsible for both, even if they’re separate dungeons. Or were.”
We’d spent weeks exploring the first floors of the goblin and minotaur dungeons… though they were connected in more than a few places now. Practically, they were the same- though we hadn’t confirmed if their cores had merged or not. We were planning to move onto the lowest floor they shared to look for the dungeon core, but first we wanted to get used to fighting them in groups… and get some more experience. The rest of the party was over level 20 now… on the verge between 21 and 22. Meanwhile, I had reached level -12. It seemed to be speeding up, which made sense if negative levels required equivalent experience to their positive versions. Soon enough we would find out if I would start getting bonus attribute points at level -10. Or rather, when I went from -10 to -9. If I didn’t… well, then I’d just have to rely even more on training to keep up with the rest of the party. Not that I could really complain if I didn’t get any bonus points, with my rate of Strength growth. The thing I was looking forward to most was getting a class again so I could grow certain attributes faster. If possible, I wanted Dexterity, Toughness, and Constitution to supplement my Strength. However, I would also prefer if it didn’t make growing other attributes harder. Assuming I could even get a class again and I didn’t just become a Martial Apprentice again. However, if I did get back into Martial Apprentice, I could theoretically change class, though it was said to be rather difficult.
There was one final thing we wanted to do before moving down. We needed to fight bosses. Since the goblins and minotaurs stuck together, it made sense that the bosses would as well. From what we’d heard from the other groups entering the dungeon, they did indeed stay together- which is why most of them avoided fighting them. Fortunately in the side of the dungeon that used to be the goblin exclusive side there hadn’t yet been any trap walls forcing people into fighting bosses. The traps seemed to keep the styles of their respective ‘dungeons’ so far. The balance of goblins and minotaurs was also different in each section.
The dungeon wasn’t currently forbidden, but there were still cautions in place… and while adventurers might seem like the types that risked their lives for profit, that was only partly true. Most adventurers would only do something that they thought reasonably safe- or they were the type that didn’t live long. If we couldn’t defeat regular groups basically unscathed, we definitely wouldn’t be going to look for bosses. More importantly, we could fight regular groups in quick succession without expending all of our resources.
We didn’t spend every day looking for bosses- only when there was a tip would we look in particular areas. So far out of the last eight days we entered the dungeon, three had good idea where bosses were… and when we got there we saw other groups had defeated the bosses twice… and once we couldn’t find the bosses. There was nothing strange about that, and we’d actually seen bosses once or twice before we felt ready to fight them.
One good thing about being back in the dungeon diving business was money… especially with fewer people in Ekralas in the dungeons, prices were good. Of course, magic cores still came in from elsewhere, but a reduced supply on the local scale was still better money. With that money, we improved our equipment… and Kantrilla and I were more or less back where we had been before the incident in Escait. I didn’t have a magic heavy mace, but I was using a sturdy one handed fellow and a shield. It didn’t sound special, but it was honestly hard to make a weapon that could withstand hits using Bash and 700 Strength without magic. I would have loved for it to be adamantine, but that wasn’t anywhere within my budget. The dagger from Khyrmin was already worth quite a bit.
She was responsible for a significant amount of our equipment, actually. Alhorn had gotten his father’s sword from her, and the strong elven steel allowed him to slice and dice goblins. Halettes green and brown scout armor helped even in the dungeon- the muted tones blended in enough to help her be stealthy, though she usually didn’t move too far from the party. Kantrilla’s livewood shield held up nicely as well. Even so, we hoped that we might get some more useful equipment from the bosses. That would make it easier to deal with the last level of the dungeon.