The sound of several pairs of hooves came down the corridor- apparently the minotaurs from the side room were now coming for us. In addition to that… there was screaming and the sound of tiny feet.
“Aaaaah~ how come nobody mentioned the extra room full of minotaurs aaaaah~”
It almost sounded like Kasner, but it couldn’t be him because he had been crushed by the boulder.
That was what my stupid brain said for about a second before running out into the corridor to go help him- only a step behind Alhorn.
I reached to my back for my spear… only to realize it was probably far down the corridor and also probably crushed by a boulder. Then I found myself face to face with three minotaurs chasing after Kasner who was flinging ice magic behind himself to slow down the minotaurs as he dashed past Alhorn.
I made sure I had my heavy mace in hand and moved forward toward the minotaurs. Alhorn blocked one of them with his shield, ducking inward to get under its attack. Its momentum still threw him backwards, but it didn’t manage to hit with its axe. Alhorn went flying back, but managed to keep his feet and step in front of a second minotaur, catching the handle of its axe on the top of his shield before it built up too much downward momentum.
That left the last minotaur to me. I couldn’t afford to waste time. As the minotaur began to swing, I activated Martial Trance. I used more mana than usual, because I couldn’t afford to mess up. I was reminded of watching a slideshow as I coordinated my movement against the minotaur’s trajectory several times. Then its axe smashed into the ground next to me, and my mace slammed into one of its knees. It toppled forward, but I continued past it. Alhorn still had two minotaurs to deal with after all, and he wouldn’t be able to hold out for long.
One of the minotaurs was already bleeding from several points on his chest, but the second one had just reached Alhorn again. He could only block one at a time, and that took all of his effort. More importantly, his shield was in his left hand so he couldn’t block attacks from his right without turning- and that would leave him open from what had been his front.
I don’t think the minotaurs knew this, but nonetheless that was the sort of situation he was facing. A minotaur was preparing a swing at his right side, and I had to help him. There were several possible solutions- some of which were outright stupid.
For example, I could leap towards him, pushing him out of the way while somehow miraculously running out of momentum and sacrificing myself in his spot. Except I would probably not get him entirely out of the way, and we would just both die… and it would be better for me to do nothing.
I decided to go with the first logical thing that came to mind. Even with Martial Trance, there was only so much time to think. As the axe came across, my mace came down toward the minotaur’s arm. I didn’t have time to wind up a full swing, but I could afford to sacrifice a bit of power for connecting first. It took all my effort to aim just right, but my heavy mace came down on the minotaur’s wrists a brief moment before the axe was going to hit Alhorn’s side.
Then the large axe hit his armor… and bounced off. I couldn’t directly block the axe, but I slowed its momentum- and shattering the wrists and partially freezing the arms of the minotaur broke its grip and prevented it from adding more force behind its swing. With mostly just the momentum of the axe and none of the weight of the minotaur behind it, Alhorn’s armor got off with just a nasty dent.
I took a moment to check the minotaur behind me, and only saw Socks and some of the minotaur’s legs beneath. That situation being taken care of, I took the chance to finish off the minotaur with the broken wrists. He tried to gouge me with his horns… but he was so much taller he couldn’t actually reach me without falling over. Also, it didn’t help him to put his head in front where I could hit it.
With a single minotaur left, Alhorn kept its attention while I smashed its skull from behind. Even if I had missed, that sort of swing would at least crash into its shoulders… and thus after a few more seconds of swinging its axe it fell.
Everyone staggered into an exhausted heap on the floor, sitting in the dim light. Alhorn had a slight break in his shield arm from the initial collisions with the last minotaurs that had not been improved by subsequent collisions. I was completely out of mana, and Kasner didn’t seem to have much left by the way his hair drooped. Halette was probably the best off after Kantrilla spent most of the rest of her mana treating wounds, but nobody was in great condition. Carlos was pacing around nervously, but he wouldn’t leave the light we had.
I turned to Kasner and asked, “What happened with you? Why did you try to sacrifice yourself?”
“Huh?” Kasner raised an eyebrow. “Don’t be crazy. I mean, I like you guys, but Alhorn just couldn’t run fast enough. Anyway, there was a whole lot of extra space over in the corners… Plenty of room to fit comfortably! Heck, even you guys could have fit there. I just didn’t have time to explain the plan. So where’d that room full of minotaurs come from?”
I shrugged, “No idea.”
Socks walked over to the room and whined, sniffing at it. Halette looked at it, and felt around the edges. “It seems like a secret wall that was made to fit tightly. Even Socks didn’t smell anything from behind it.”
“Well…” Kasner shrugged, “It was the most complicated setup we’ve seen in this dungeon. I guess we’ll just have to watch out for slightly sloped floors and long corridors.”
I agreed. I definitely didn’t want to have to repeat that encounter.