For me, firing my bow was an exercise in restraint. A shot from a bow was more powerful and accurate with the string pulled to its full extent… but if it was overstretched it could be a problem. Most people wouldn’t run into that issue, even adventurers, but my Strength was constantly increasing and my bow remained just the same. Fortunately, I didn’t even need a full draw for dealing with a goblin. Even if they had armor, it wasn’t thick enough to stop a straight shot from a longbow. Along with me, Sera, Alhorn, and Halette all used bows to thin the approaching enemies- who were coming from every direction.
As the minotaurs charged into the room, they also slowed down to avoid the new walls- the illusory ones Yalgrek had made. They weren’t so reckless they’d charge into a wall… unless it happened to be immediately behind someone they wished to impale on their horns. I was glad that they didn’t immediately see through the illusion… that meant they were funneled around through the paths… where the first ones ran into Varragra as they came around a corner. The unarmored minotaurs didn’t last long against her greatsword, though I doubted the ones that had armor would do much better. However, enemies continued to stream in a few at a time. Fortunately, they weren’t very organized… and they could only hear the boss’ call from so far away.
Soon enough there were too many people for just Varragra and Calum- the cleric- to take care of. Sera moved in to support Calum, pulling out a pair of daggers as she did so. Alhorn stood on the stairs leading up to the platform with Halette, Kantrilla, Socks, and Carlos- and also Yalgreck. Socks was lying down, panting… but from what I could see she wasn’t too bad. However, if she moved rapidly she would risk reopening the big wound on her side.
Yalgreck created a path between the illusions that funneled most of the enemies to the melee groups, but he couldn’t make it impossible for them to reach the others without making them suspicious. Once they knew the walls were an illusion they could reach us more quickly.
Instead of retaining a position, I looked for who needed help the most. For now, that was Varragra- too many enemies were building up in front of her. For the sake of not breaking the illusion, I jumped between some of the platforms instead of walking through the walls, then I landed next to her, spearing a minotaur.
The battle turned into a mess of arrows, weapons, and spells. Kasner didn’t have that much mana left, but there were still lightning bolts and ice appearing at opportune times. Yalgreck attacked with fire, though it clearly wasn’t his specialty… but he was maintaining all the illusory walls, so maybe it was also that.
Sweat and blood dripped down all over me… and it had to be my blood because monster blood disappeared. I didn’t notice most of the wounds happening, but they kept building up… though Kantrilla’s barrier spells also stopped a number of wounds that I would have otherwise had. Somewhere through the fight we ran out of arrows and magic- though Yalgreck retained just enough to maintain his illusions. We had killed a least a few dozen goblins and maybe a dozen minotaurs, after the bosses and their direct minions. Halette started moving through illusory walls to stab goblins with her sword. Their numbers seemed to be thinning, but I was almost about to collapse. I saw a minotaur swinging his axe at Kantrilla- who was looking the other way as she fought a goblin with her mace. I expended my very last energy to throw my spear into its back… and started to stagger forward to retrieve it. Kantrilla bashed the goblin on the side of his head… and then everything was quiet. I heard the sound of a few boots and scraping weapons being pulled out of armor… but not much else. “Is that the last of them?” Sera asked.
“I think so…” Halette shook her head as she came around a corner. There were no more illusory walls, so we could clearly see in all four directions… and the only thing left were piles of low quality weapons and armor.
Calum had saved some of his mana, and he went around healing everyone… just stopping bleeding really, but that was good enough. I barely managed to sit down instead of falling and pulled out a handful of rations- some kind of jerky that I could barely chew. I was waiting for the word that more enemies were coming, but nothing came. After a handful of minutes we started scraping together the equipment, placing what was even vaguely decent on Carlos and bundling up other pieces. Along with that were many magic cores which we more directly split between the parties.
As I was picking up a goblin sized buckler that could be used for scrap metal, a minotaur charged out from a hallway. Alhorn couldn’t maintain his light magic, so we were going with torches and other smaller light sources. I still should have noticed it, but it was hard. I reached for my dagger, but my hands were shaky… and then Carlos kicked the minotaur in the head. I was surprised he could get his hind legs up with all the stuff we’d put on him… but I suppose Halette didn’t train anything to be weak. I heard the minotaur’s neck crack, and Carlos snorted. Well, at least someone was still energetic.
“Thanks for the help,” Kantrilla bowed her head to Sera and the rest.
“Of course!” Sera always had enough energy to sound enthusiastic, even if she could barely lift her head. “And it’s not like we got nothing out of it either. There’s all the magic cores and a share of the scrap…”
It was good to know there were plenty of other decent adventurers. While there were measures in place with the guild cards to prevent them from killing us, they didn’t have to stay behind and help either. Sure, it was probably the right thing to do, but not everyone would do it at risk to themselves. Just because we were successful didn’t mean it wasn’t risky- if Socks hadn’t been so injured we would have retreated ourselves.
As it was, we barely managed to drag ourselves out of the dungeon. Socks could just barely walk, which was good because there was no way we could have taken her with us. As we left the dungeon, it was good to see the sun… it was the sign that we hadn’t died. If we hadn’t been somewhat overleveled for the dungeon, we might really not have made it. I would say it was Lucky that the other group showed up- but who could really say? It wasn’t like we were alone, and they actually had come looking for the source of the noise.
I didn’t have the energy to look that night, but in the morning I had leveled up to level -9. I was used to waking up stronger, but I could tell the difference between a few points of Strength and ten… and I confirmed I had gotten bonus points. I would have to thank Sage Norwood. Even though it was experimental, his work had apparently saved me trouble and I even retained my bonus attribute points for being an otherworlder. Of course, those bonus points were part of the strange rules of the world… but I’d also somehow gotten to negative levels, so I couldn’t say everything always worked as expected.