Chapter 63: Taking A Dive
Standing at the bottom of the crystal like spiral staircase, Nisha doubtfully looked at the compass and map in her hands.
After she had been left alone in the Two Woods shop, she seized the chance to quickly change her gear with her [Soul Space], donning her usual leather hunting gear, a quiver full of arrows and her bow as well as the two [Taurith Short Swords], one on each hip. Finding the stairs again was no issue at all, even if this was her first time in the dungeon.
Like a seething cauldron, the open hole in the ground spilled all kinds of mana and aura in all directions, flowing outside the open gates and further into the streets, it was the gale Nisha had used to find this building in the first place.
On one corner was the already familiar symbol of the Guild, a circled cross. Entering and asking the employee a few quick pointed questions, she obtained a map – a copy of the first floor layout. Additionally she bought something called a [Homeguard Compass], a small metallic box holding a metallic needle afloat inside.
The girl said it would always point towards the exit, so even if I get lost, as long as I follow the red tip I will find the exit and the black tip will lead to the next floor.
But isn’t this thing just following the energy currents in the air?
Swinging the box around for a bit, Nisha had a heavy suspicion that the compass did indeed only sway according to the currents of colour surrounding her.
What if there’s an irregularity with the stream? How will people find the exit then?
What prompted this thought was the unusual behaviour the ambient power showed due to her presence. Instead of peacefully streaming towards the exit like before, small snakes of raw mana and aura started coiling around her frame.
Utilizing her [Spirit Sight] to look at herself was somewhat futile, as the dragon did not see her own body shine from her point of view. It was now eerily beautiful to see the powers wrap her carefully like a spider web, interweaving and merging into something else.
Despite the flashy spectacle in front of her eyes, she couldn’t help but feel disgruntled from the treatment she received earlier. While she had indeed thought that adventures looking out for each other sounded like a wonderful concept, the ever present concern of others asking her where her parents or guardians were annoyed her to no end, and the people asking her if her party was alright with taking such a young girl to the dungeon were only slightly better.
Five large, black holes opened up at the bottom of the staircase, evenly spaced. Looking at these five exits, the invisible gas thickened compared to the outside, it didn’t have as much space to spread outside compared to its source.
Drawing attention from nearby waiting groups, Nisha picked one of the entrances at random and entered before they had a chance to approach her.
As soon as she entered the stone corridor, the elven girl felt akin to a chill travelling over her skin. The temperature did not drop by much, yet something was amiss. Instead of a city’s security, this dungeon held the same wild excitement as the Wilderness.
Taking in a deep breath saturated with pure energy, Nisha embraced the sensation. The previously already entwining snakes of energy reacted as well, becoming even more frantic and more and more of them came to disappear into Nisha.
I knew this was the right decision. Let’s see how similar this place is to the forest.
A predator was still a predator, even if you took it out of its natural environment and tried to tame its bloodlust. In her mind, she spread her wings and took a few deep breaths, preparing for the inevitable clash that was about to happen. Whatever dared to obstruct her way, Nisha was going to teach it a simple lesson.
The dragon was not going to simply win a battle. She was going to conquer everything before her. Be it a chess field, a fight deep in the dungeon, a heated discussion, she wasn’t satisfied with a simple win. Everyone could win. Nisha was going to go beyond that.
With the left [Taurith Short Sword] loosened in its sheath, the dark stone corridor was about to end. Light still shone from the entrance, however to Nisha who had both keen night vision and her [Spirit Sight], an additional light source was not needed.
Surprisingly, the room itself was illuminated by a soft yellow glow. Turning her head left and right, she tried to discern what was going to wait for her here.
Inching forward with one small step at a time, the elven girl inspected the surroundings.
After the door she came from, there were several stone pillars distributed throughout the room, most of them broken or toppled over. Between the debris, dust hung in the air, no sign of life anywhere.
Besides the pillars, nothing else was inside the room, the only other feature were the three exits, together with the entrance there was one gate in each cardinal direction.
Puzzled about the lack of activity, Nisha inspected the stone pillars more closely when laughter and voices suddenly filled the room.
Alarmed and apprehensive of others, the dragon swiftly hid behind an especially large rubble heap where several pillars had fallen on top of each other.
An adventurer party passed through the room, despite some slight injuries and scrapes on their bodies, they clearly returned from the dungeon and talked about their harvest this time.
While they passed through the room without a worry in the world, Nisha suddenly realised why she couldn’t sense anything in the room and her cheeks reddened.
As the only room connected to this entrance, how could people not frequently pass through it? Would they leave anything alive for her to deal with?
Just as the party left her side, the dragon pulled out the map she bought earlier and tried to find her own position.
The map itself was closer to a small book, having five pages only. Each page represented one layer of the dungeon, it hadn’t been very expensive unlike the other version that were on sale. Meant for explorers with the F and E rank, the first five floors were frequented by everyone on the way to even deeper levels, the maps were easy to acquire and the guild was able to provide a detailed and complete map cheaply. The actual expensive purchase had been the [Homeguard Compass], together with the map Nisha paid a full gold coin to acquire it.
Arranged like a large circle, all paths in the first layer led to either of the two points, both labeled as ‘Entrance to the second floor’. There were dead ends and large rooms, but as long as she followed the compass, Nisha had no chance of getting lost.
Putting her new purchases back in her space, the dragon simply continued straight ahead, looking more and more forward to a confrontation.
Her unusual black and golden eyes revealed a hint of blood red in them, her bloodlust rising.
The second room was the same as the first in some regard, yet also completely different. While the stone corridors didn’t even have a hint of a difference, instead of stone pillars lush green growth filled the second one.
Still no sign of monsters or the fight she was looking for, therefore Nisha just picked a random direction again.
Passing through three rooms – which each had an unique atmosphere and ambience – and corridors, a room opened, softly lit by the ever present glow coming from an unknown location.
Reminding her of a mountain peak, the room was far larger than the ones she passed so far, no soil on the ground, only sharp white stone edges.
Nisha’s heart violently bellowed when she discovered the first monsters.
Not unlike the rubble in the first room, brown balls of stone rested in the center of the room. She thought it was rubble first, however the monsters stirred when an intruder entered their domain.
Walking on two short legs, their faces were made of black stones instead of a mouth and eyes and they had two large stone spikes instead of arms; they issued a challenging howl to Nisha, their growls sounding like two large stones hitting each other.
Naturally, Nisha hadn’t seen [Mountain Gravellers] before, a type of monsters commonly originating in rocky regions rich in aura.
However all that was secondary. The bloodlust had slowly accumulated with each room. Everytime she entered one, she was excited and looking forward to her fist fight in the dungeon. Everytime she was let down, a bit of impatience remained.
Now, confronted with enemies, the dragon didn’t care what they were or that this dead-end room didn’t have any creatures with meat she could eat.
All she could see were those six or seven stone monsters challenging her, with her sight already dyed red by her aggressiveness.
Freeing the already prepared short sword from its sheath, Nisha broke into a sprint, carrying herself into battle.
Strictly speaking, a [Mountain Graveller] was not a big challenge for anyone with the first aura rank. It neither had a special ability nor were they peak existences among monsters of the first rank.
Nonetheless, even a balanced party exploring the first layer of the dungeon would be somewhat apprehensive of challenging a group like the one the elven girl faced.
Made completely from stone, their incomparable hard bodies made it hard for warriors to overcome their defence, most likely the warriors would attract attention and hold the front lines while they focused one enemy or the remaining party casted their magic to subdue the stone monsters.
Additionally, while they weren’t that much of a challenge in a one on one fight, the onslaught of several [Mountain Gravellers] was akin to facing a landslide. Measuring each monster with the power of one adventurer was impossible and they were a huge danger to the average group.
Nisha had none of those concerns.
Brandishing her sword, the elven girl rushed straight at them, almost dancing above the uneven footing, never staggering or having to adjust her balance.
Urged by the bloodlust, a baleful aura spread over the weapon, made by red and black stands of aura intertwining, combining in a much more fearful power than each of it had on its own. Small black and white sparks escaped whenever the strands mixed, however none of it was noticed by the young girl.
Her only target was the enemy in front of her, who dared to challenge her.
Impudent! I will teach them what it means to defy me!
Meeting her charge with its own, one of the faster stone monsters met her about one third into the room, jumping into the air and holding its two spike like arms together.
Aiming for her small frame, the attack would crush even stone, not to mention a living being. Certain of its win, the monster growled again while rapidly descending.
Not slowing down at all, Nisha refused to back away from a contest of strength.
Crouching down and collecting a burst of aura in her feet, she shot away from the ground as soon as the accumulated power exploded.
Meeting in the air, a black and red sword clashed with a pair of rock spikes, creating a loud explosion.
Sharp stone shards splattered in every direction, while both bodies fell out of the air, or at least a body and what was left of one.
With overbearing strength, Nisha’s short sword had simply shattered the [Mountain Gravellers] arms. Not losing any momentum, it then pierced its body and forced it to explode. Besides a shiny marble, there was nothing left but broken stones and an unperturbed dragon.
True to their status as monsters, none of the remaining ones flinched at the death of their comrade and they continued to rush at Nisha.
She didn’t idle either, jumping to the side and casually bringing down her weapon on another body.
How could a monster with the first aura rank put up a fight against her? Even with the power of only the first aura rank, Nisha had already been able to contend with beings possessing the third rank, even peak level creatures. A simple common monster stood no chance, especially when the bloodlust consumed any restrictions the elven girl usually put on herself.
Breathing calmly, Nisha continued to dance with the [Mountain Gravellers], always jumping out of their charging path and retaliating. Their stone skin put up a certain resistance against physical blows, one of the reasons why warriors usually left it to the mages in their group to deal with the creatures.
Sadly, to their current opponent their defence meant nothing, each strike blowing off a limb or directly shattering one of their group.
Clad in her own mana, the sharp splinters flying through the air were unable to even scratch Nisha’s leather armour, only falling to the ground after hitting a thin barrier.
All in all, the skirmish couldn’t be said to be long, whittling down her opponents Nisha decisively exterminated all seven of them.
Raising her right arm and bringing it down again, her attacks lacked any elegance, simply smashing the stone monsters in front of her.
After the last body shattered, Nisha exhaled a deep breath she held from the start, tension leaving her body.
Hearing stories about the danger inside the dungeon everywhere, she looked very much forward to experiencing it herself. To throw herself into battle against formidable opponents, to tear them apart and gain ultimate victory had always been her way, even as early when she was still Little Flame.
Inspecting the messy remains on the ground, she discovered her spoils of war, six balls, each of them a different size.
Gleaming in an earthly yellow, most of them were as large as a chicken egg, while the smallest was only the size of a marble. There was something else, quite resembling the balls, however this one had already shattered, otherwise it would have been the largest marble. Based on its position, Nisha guessed it originated from the [Mountain Graveller] she encountered first, the fragments laid more towards the entrance.
Satisfied with her own performance, she gathered the items, placing them on a separate pile in her [Soul Space]. Naturally she would learn their properties when turning in one to the Guild later.
An easy battle like this was fully unable to satisfy her raging battle lust, even when the dragon appeared calm right now. The red haze above her eyes didn’t diminish one bit, and she quickly turned around, her eyes already having swept the room for anything else with the assistance of her special second perception.
Picking another path at random in the room before, Nisha kept the [Taurith Short Sword] in her hand, eager to find something to satisfy her hunger.
Thinking of it, ever since entering the dungeon the grumblings of her stomach got quieter, although not entirely disappearing.
Unsure of the reason and distracted by her will to battle more, she simply dismissed the oddity and advanced, always hiding carefully when sensing the presence of another party in the rooms she was about to enter or pass by.
A wicked grin was painted on her face every time she discovered a room filled with life other than humans or elves.
For now, the elven girl didn’t plan on staying too long underground, she had to return home in the evening and was unable to progress to the second layer, the distance too far. But until she had to return home, she’d thoroughly play with all the tasty monsters here.