The Only Thing I Can Upgrade is Strength chapter 204

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With the remaining goblins gathered in the center of the room, I only had to dodge a half dozen arrows before I could slip into the room behind the first platform where I had cover from most of the goblins. There was a close call with an arrow from the goblin boss, but Halette and Kasner sufficiently distracted most of the others that I made it through. Of course, even though I had cover from most of the goblins, there were still two on top of the platform that could attack me… there had been three, but one had an arrow go straight into his chest. With a flick of my dagger, there was only one. The slanted edges of the platforms let them attack down… but also let me attack up. I seriously hoped dungeons wouldn’t figure out proper battlements of any sort. I wasn’t sure if they could think and learn, but I wasn’t about to mention the idea inside the dungeon just in case.

I pulled the dagger back into my hand and blocked the arrow from the remaining goblin. I had gotten a good look at the room- somehow Alhorn managed to keep his light spell up during all this and even direct it to the room when we needed it. We had a few things that shed light if we needed them, but good light was very useful. There were twelve goblins in addition to the boss… or eight now? They were dying quickly. Only the boss was really a threat, but I just had to get to him.

Unfortunately, as he realized how poorly the battle was going the goblin boss started going all out, including flurrys of arrows flying towards where the rest of the party was. He wasn’t limited to firing arrows normally, after all. He had skills or some equivalent of them. As I finished off the last goblin near me I circled around the room, looking towards the goblin boss. I couldn’t quite see him, but I knew where he was and could hear him. That focus on him made me miss the arrow coming in from my side- a side where there were no archers at all. However, the arrow still came… and stuck into my side. Was it an invisible enemy? No- I saw another arrow coming and it curved in the air. A skill, then. I was glad I was wearing heavy armor- the arrow only barely stuck into my side instead of embedding all the way to the feathers in my torso. The second arrow I dodged easily enough- once I saw it coming. It just moved through where I had been, but the boss couldn’t actually see me. However, I would be he could track my movements by sound. Because of that, I decided speed was the best option. I had to move past three platforms- the one I was behind and two more- to get to the boss who was on the other side of the middle. As I passed each of the next two, I took out another goblin with my dagger, using Return Weapon to pull it back. Then I sheathed it, taking my spear from my shield hand into my main hand. 

It was maybe ten yards or less to the goblin boss, and I could see him on the platform. Of course, that meant he could see me, but he didn’t have just me to deal with. Except for a lone archer and mage, the boss was alone- and that meant he had to avoid Halette’s arrows. He did that with decent proficiency, but that slowed down his attack. I dashed towards him, ready to block or dodge as necessary. He identified me as a clear threat, launching a flurry of arrows at me. One, two, three… I sidestepped, deflected one with my shield, and leaned just enough that the other slid off my armor instead of hitting head on and piercing through the metal. Armor was made to do that as much as possible, but the boss also knew how it worked. I knew he could fire more arrows in rapid succession, but as my eyes went back to the boss for a moment, I saw why he had stopped. His hands were frozen to the bowstring and bow respectively. Kasner must have gotten closer- instant freezes like that were nearly impossible to pull of at a long distance, and that was by my high standards that Kasner had set. Well, even if he wasn’t close he’d given an opportunity.

The sudden ice distracted the boss for two seconds- enough for me to finish closing the distance between us. Of course, there was still the platforms to deal with… but there were only what, three yards high? They even had lower parts at the edges where they slanted. I wasn’t going to say I could make a vertical leap of that height easily… but I didn’t have all this Strength for nothing. I prepared to leap up… only to see a ledge of ice appear about halfway up. Hopefully Kasner had good control over that slipperiness.

I jumped onto the ice- trying not to think about whether it could hold my weight- and then up onto the platform. I heard the ice fall apart behind me… but it had done everything it needed to. The goblin boss hadn’t managed to free his hands just yet… but he twisted his body to turn and run. He could probably jump from platform to platform and lead me on a merry chase… if he could move. However, his feet were attached to the platform, and I easily impaled him through the heart- he had some armor, but it wasn’t enough to stop me. Even plate would have only been a problem for my spear’s structural integrity and not my Strength.

I turned back to the rest of the group. I could just see Kantrilla and Socks down the hallway- Socks was limping along towards the room, but moving. “She’s okay!” Kantrilla called towards me, “Her fur actually managed to block most of the magic axe!” While she said most, I was pretty sure Socks still had a gash several inches deep on her side. That whole side was red… but at least it didn’t seem to be bleeding more.

“Reinforcements are still coming!” Halette called out. “There’s some just-” as she pointed to the entrance behind me, I turned to look… and saw a dwarf, a thin woman and a large woman, and a man in silver armor. 

“Oh heeeeey!” the thin woman waved. “You look much taller up there!” I looked down at her and recognized the group. This was Sera, and the rest of her party. It seemed they had picked up what was probably a cleric- I recognized a symbol on his shield that marked him as a Skillist. Before I could say anything, Sera continued, “There’s like, a huge group of goblins and minotaurs coming. Wanna join up and fight them off?”

I looked back at the rest of the group. Socks definitely couldn’t do any running, and we couldn’t exactly carry her… Carlos might be able to pull her if we had a sled or something, but that would take time to set up. Before anyone else could answer, Kantrilla responded, “Of course! We’ll get them all!”

The taller woman was a half orc and wielding a sword taller than me- though a rather appropriately sized greatsword for someone of her size. I vaguely remembered her name was Varragra… she looked at Sera and grunted.

The dwarf, Yalgrek, looked around the room. “Is it like this for the whole room? We’ll need to do some modifications.” With that, he waved his hands and grew new walls all around the room between the platforms, removing any straight paths to the middle. No… they weren’t walls. From my perspective it was easy to see they were flat- they were just illusory- but I imagined from ground level they seemed quite real.

Kasner and Halette voiced no objections, merely positioning themselves on platforms where they could cover many angles. Kasner looked a bit tired, but I saw him pull out a mana potion. They weren’t exactly cheap, but then again there was the magic axe of the minotaur and I could see a magic core from the goblin boss right next to me… we might still lose money, but losing money was better than losing our lives… or a friend. We only had a few moments to start discussing strategy before even I could hear the approaching enemies, and I pulled out a bow to take advantage of my position. I wonder if the dungeon had even considered that we might have the better positions… minotaurs weren’t exactly made for climbing, and they weren’t big enough it would be easy to jump up. There were still stairs on the sides away from the center, but Yalgrek was covering as many as he could with illusions. Then the first minotaurs came into sight.

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