The Only Thing I Can Upgrade is Strength chapter 64

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“Ahh… I hope I get a powerful magic staff or something~” Kasner said as his eyes sparkled with anticipation.

Alhorn shook his head, “Are you saying you want to fight something with powerful magic? That doesn’t sound like a good plan.”

Kasner grinned, “Don’t worry, I want a lightning staff! You should be fine.”

I groaned, “Where does that leave me, then?”

Kasner held a finger to his lips and looked up at the ceiling, “Try to kill it quick, I guess.”

“How encouraging.”

We kept our voices low, but absolute silence would make us go crazy in the oppressive blackness of the dungeon. Normally we wouldn’t worry too much about our voices- the clank of armor was more significant- but we were waiting for Halette to scout up ahead. After a few more minutes, she and Socks returned, seeming like they appeared from nowhere as they came out from behind the corner.

“There’s a boss room up ahead.” Halette confirmed, “It’s a special room.”

A special room wasn’t a good thing- it meant a room that didn’t conform to the normal structure of a dungeon. In this case, that was straight corridors with right angle intersections, and occasionally rectangular rooms.

“What’s the layout?” Kantrilla asked.

“It looks like… an outer ring with a standard cross intersection in the middle. That leaves blocking walls that are near quarter-circles- but there’s also stairs leading up to a raised area in the center of the cross. There’s a cleric boss at the top.” Halette drew an approximation of what she saw.

Everyone groaned. Clerics were a pain. While it wasn’t a big deal if goblins got healed- they were usually dead before that could happen- buff spells making masses of goblins stronger was a pain to deal with.

Alhorn held his hand behind his head, but couldn’t scratch because he was wearing a helmet. “What a pain. Enemies can attack from at least three sides and we have to fight our way up to the high ground.”

“The cleric has a magic scepter though…”

That was another complication. The magic scepter would make them more effective- but we would have a magic scepter if we won. That would almost certainly make Kantrilla more effective, and that would never be a bad thing. There was a small chance it was related to offensive clerical magic, which Kantrilla didn’t really use- but in that case we could still sell it. It wasn’t a question of whether we were going to try to beat this boss, but what our plan was.

“So, what’s the plan?” I asked.

Alhorn frowned, “Well, a straightforward assault is a terrible idea. I don’t like the idea of fighting my way up stairs while the backline is attacked from both sides. If you move forward, both sides would become just behind but our retreat could be cut off. Any idea how many goblins there are total?”

“Probably a couple dozen up on the raised area, with a half dozen in the corridor in front, but I don’t know how many around the ring. There could easily be several times that scattered around, though there were only a few within sight on each side.” Halette explained.

“In that case,” Alhorn continued, “I think we should start by determining how many might be in a section. We send some people down a side while the rest hold the entrance, just out of view of the center so we don’t have to deal with any ranged attacks from there.”

After confirming a few details, we decided that I would be the vanguard for the ‘scouting’ force, along with Socks. Halette and Kantrilla would follow, while Alhorn and Kasner would hold the rear. The corridors weren’t exceptionally large- they maintained the standard width comfortable for two people, and it was only about forty feet to the start of the stairs in the center. That meant each quarter circle was about sixty feet long. Kantrilla could even stand in between both groups watching for anyone who needed support.

Then I found myself running down the corridor toward goblins, the blue glow from my mace lighting the way. Crushing a goblin’s skull or smashing their ribcage was normal now- and their armor hardly made a difference. Perhaps I was relying a bit too much on brute Strength… but that was what I had. However, against normal goblins it was plenty good. I suppose I sort of used the parrying I had learned- at least, I would occasionally use my weapon to knock aside an enemy’s… while in the same motion crushing them. I was going to have to work on my technique more when fighting enemies that didn’t die in a single hit.

I quickly fought my way to the end of the quarter circle, and ran into a problem. I looked to Halette. “Great. There’s another entrance. I wonder if more goblins are there?”

Halette shook her head as she shot down a single goblin that had peaked its head out around the next part of the ring up ahead. “They might be. It’s not safe to check it out just yet.”

We quickly returned to where Alhorn and Kasner were, but I knew they hadn’t had much trouble- they had been within easy earshot the whole time. Unfortunately, that meant everything we did was also easily seen from the middle where the cleric was.

“Any trouble?” I could see the bodies of a half-dozen goblins, but I asked anyway.

“Not much, really.” Alhorn picked up a breastplate and tossed it into the intersection in front of him. As arrows flew past it, he stepped out with a shield raised, then stepped back. “About half of the goblins up there are archers, but they don’t seem interested in leaving their perch.”

“What next?” I asked. “I’d like to try to clear out more, but I’d rather not split up too much.”

“I agree.” Halette replied, “We should clear out the next quarter circle near our entrance. We’ll just have to run past some arrow fire…”

“Eh, the corridor’s only about ten feet wide… we should be able to make it if we run. I’ll go first though.” It wasn’t a sense of chivalry or masculine pride that made me want to go first. Instead, it was merely that I had better armor. Of course, Alhorn could also go, but I had martial trance. Maybe I could dodge some arrows if it was necessary- though most goblins couldn’t penetrate our armor without a good shot, they might have had help from the cleric. We couldn’t tell for sure. After everyone agreed to the plan, I backed up to begin my sprint across the corridor.

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