Even with two arrows in its neck, the minotaur continued to charge toward us. Alhorn stepped up to meet it, deflecting its axe with his shield and stabbing it in the heart. The minotaur sputtered around for a few moments before falling over, dead.
Although the arrows appeared to have little effect, we had also tested that situation without Halette firing into the minotaur. It resulted in Alhorn being knocked flying- even when catching the axe at a near optimal angle. It wasn’t that they weren’t weaker when bleeding everywhere, but rather that they had even more power normally.
One of the most important things they had was the mass behind their large bodies. Otherwise, if we were to compare Strength… they didn’t have much more than me. My Analyze Strength registered them somewhere in the 700’s to low 800’s, depending on the individual. That made sense, because they looked pretty much like the most hulking bodybuilders I’d seen on Earth- except the muscle was distributed over a slightly larger frame that also happened to have weird bull legs.
Of course, just because I had a chance to beat some of them in arm-wrestling didn’t mean I wanted to run into them head on. I didn’t have any way to analyze their Toughness, but that had to also be sky high. I wasn’t looking forward to fighting them in armor.
“What next?” I asked as I picked up the axe, wrapping the head in leather so it wouldn’t pierce through the bag. We didn’t have a mule with us, but Halette was trying to get one used to the dungeon. It had been a lot of work just to get him into the dungeon, let alone walking around much. She wasn’t yet ready to have him near a battle- and we certainly weren’t going to leave him alone in the dark.
“Welllll…” Kasner scratched his chin, “I suppose I can try one of their obvious weaknesses. They like to run at things headfirst.”
The first thing that came to my mind was a pike- but Kasner obviously wasn’t going to be using one of those. He’d barely even be able to hold one ready for a few seconds, let alone receive a charge with it. I would have been using one myself, but I needed a bit more money to get a properly reinforced one that wouldn’t just snap the first time a minotaur impaled itself- or chopped at it with an axe. Meanwhile, Kasner’s solution was likely to be slightly more… magical.
“Alright,” Halette nodded, “We’ll let you know when we find the next one.”
We continued to walk through unpleasantly dark corridors. At least the first floor was pretty safe, as long as we were capable of killing single minotaurs without being chopped in half. Good equipment was helping with that, of course. Goblins sometimes had pressure plates that wouldn’t be set off by the weight of a single goblin- but would for a normal adventurer, halflings excluded. Minotaurs, meanwhile, were heavier than any adventurer. Since the dungeon was catered to them, and they liked charging at people, traps were fairly rare or easily avoided once found.
“There’s one,” Halette whispered- though Socks’ light growling had already tipped us off.
Kasner moved his position forward in the group. Still behind Alhorn and me, but not in the back row. “Okay, this probably won’t kill them, but it should make them much easier to kill… Get ready!”
A loud, repetitive thumping on the ground let us know the minotaur had seen us, then it charged into sight. I had expected lighting from Kasner, but instead I didn’t see Kasner’s spell at all. I saw the effects as the minotaur suddenly changed from a vertical to a horizontal position… as it slipped on what was presumably ice. The minotaur hit the floor perhaps ten feet in front of Alhorn and I.
By the time we had moved up to it, it was standing- but it didn’t have the momentum of movement behind it and I did. I broke its arm with my heavy mace as it move to block its head- and then there were only a few moments of flailing with its other arm trying to chop us with its axe. However, that was what Alhorn and I had armor for- and the minotaur obviously wasn’t used to swinging the axe with one hand. Actually, I wondered if they could actually be used to anything, with the majority of dungeon monsters only living for a handful of days on average.
Kasner nodded, “Not bad. I’ll have to work on placement… if I can get them to stumble closer to Llyr he can probably just bash their heads in before they stand up.”
I nodded, “Probably. If it’s an actual Bash it shouldn’t be too hard.”
Kasner waved his hand ahead, and I saw small sparkles that were presumably water vapor. “It’s not as impressive as lightning, but I suppose it suits the situation. It’s a good way to conserve mana as well. Solid floors make it rather easy to do. Even if they aren’t as unbalanced as they look like they should be, there’s not much to be done when moving at full tilt. Especially when they don’t expect it.”
“Well,” Alhorn said, “That about settles it. We can significantly weaken them as they approach. If there is more than one, we might have trouble defeating them at range- but Kasner can trip up one of them.”
“I could probably do two, actually- but don’t expect me to accurately trip the second in a nice smashable position.”
“Good. In that case, we can start with Llyr throwing a spear- Halette and I will use arrows to soften a second minotaur if there is one. Kasner will create ice to trip them as they get close, at which point the three of us- me, Llyr and Socks- will finish them off. Kantrilla can prepare barrier spells for any minotaurs that reach us while still upright, to soften the initial collision. Everyone understand?”
“Socks?” Halette asked, “Do you understand?”
Socks nodded her head- not a movement necessarily natural for wolves, but she had learned it. To demonstrate her understanding, she rolled onto her back… then sprang up and started mauling the ground where she had been. Well, it seemed like she got it pretty quickly. She was a smart girl, after all.