The Only Thing I Can Upgrade is Strength chapter 212

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Even though I trusted in my party- and Sera’s party- it was still stressful to not look back to look for approaching monsters. Not that I would see much beyond the back of an illusion anyway. I still wanted to look but I had to focus on the wall in front of us. Varragra and I needed to take it down quickly… but we also needed to be able to make it back through the next two levels without people dragging us. That meant we couldn’t go completely all out as we alternated strikes on the wall with our mauls. Fortunately, within a few swings the wall started opening up. Soon it was big enough for most of us to fit through, but that didn’t count Carlos and Socks. There was no way we were leaving either of them behind, and that was without considering Carlos was carrying most of our loot.

Socks was bigger- but Carlos actually would have more trouble getting through a space too small for him. Socks could bend down or wiggle her way through. If her fur wasn’t considered, she was only a bit wider than Carlos and also only a couple feet longer. However, Carlos also had his pack which stuck out… and couldn’t exactly bend over and crawl. That wasn’t something a mule was really intended for.

Thud. Thud. Thud. Fortunately, this wall wasn’t actively repairing itself and was only a couple bricks thick. We finally knocked out enough of the area, and we pushed most of the bricks to the side so Carlos wouldn’t trip. Yalgreck must have done well with blocking the sound and the illusion, because nothing had come though in the time we had been working. It had only been a minute or so- destruction was pretty easy if you didn’t care about collateral damage- but that was a fairly long time in the current circumstances.

While we had been swinging away, I couldn’t feel or hear the dungeon… but now I could feel the trembling. It wasn’t much, just like last time, but there was movement and a bit of a cracking sound. It shouldn’t completely collapse… we did leave some core after all. However, we had come in through the entrance of the goblin dungeon. Maybe the part of the core fusion we had destroyed was tied to this side. 

“Enemies to the sides!” Halette whispered with intensity, reminding us to move quickly up the stairs in front of us. As we had thought, the wall was right in front of what was once a T intersection leading to the stairs- effectively a + if one counted the stairs. Next to the stairs I noticed a few sets of goblin weapons and armor- another party must have passed by recently and decided not to take the time to collect the relatively low value items. Sensible, with the dungeon collapsing- or at least weakening. 

At the top of the stairs was a minotaur- or at least, there was a minotaur before Socks pounced on it and ripped its throat out. In the next hallway were some goblins. Normally I would have stayed back and let the archers and mages take them out without risk, but we didn’t want to stay around for long. All of us melee people half-charged into the enemies in our path, though we didn’t actually run since we had to conserve some energy. Fortunately, even armored goblins were quick to kill.

Halette and Sera led us back through the corridors we’d used to get here- and while we did run into three more groups of enemies along the way to the first level there weren’t any new walls that had appeared. 

As we approached the stairs to the first level, we heard shouting from up above. “Are you adventurers?”

“We are!” Halette called back up.

The voice that shouted down said more quietly, “Hold your fire!” then more clearly to us, “Alright, come on up!”

Alhorn and I stepped up to the front, cautiously holding our shields at the ready. While most adventurers were good people- and most of the rest were smart enough to not attack others- it wouldn’t hurt to have a little caution. At the top of the stairs we saw over a dozen people, complete with archer and mages and warrior standing in front. However, I recognized one party for sure.

A human woman was standing at the front of the bunch, and she nodded when we got into view. “Good, you should be the last two parties, we think. We’ve been fighting off groups of monsters as they came up.” I could see bundles of equipment behind them- testament to their words. She turned around and gestured to the groups, “Pack everything up and let’s go! We don’t want to stay too long.”

It was a relatively quick trip on the first level- it was actually the smallest level and had the most straightforward path. Everyone came out into the sunlight within a few minutes. I breathed a sigh of relief, but I could still feel the ground trembling slightly.

“Hail there!” one of the guards waved. “If you could stop and talk to the representatives- we need to check in all the parties!” Normally they only checked at the end of the day if a party came out of the dungeon or not- but these were special circumstances.

As I approached them, my mace fell out of my hand. When I went to pick it up, I found my fingers could barely grasp it. I hadn’t realized how exhausted I was until that point. However, after we checked in with the guild representatives, we couldn’t just sit down. They were clearing out the area- except for groups of guards watching the stairs. That included people in nearby buildings. The dungeon we destroyed before had been out in the wilderness… but this one was under a city. I was glad Kantrilla had told me to only destroy half of the fused core. I wanted nothing more than to go collapse in a bed… but I saw Timmy approaching, and I knew we needed to tell him the results of what happened. We had approval to destroy the dungeon, but having a report on what exactly we’d done would be useful. We also couldn’t say for sure if the area around what had once been the minotaur dungeon would feel effects either… maybe breaking the core would cause that to fade away too, though it seemed like it might remain stable. I hoped the buildings around the entrance we left from remained safe.

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