Chapter 66: Widow’s Crypt III
As the larger Queen began devouring the smaller one, I couldn’t help but become perplexed by what was happening in this dungeon. There were more than 10 floors in this dungeon, with minion Snarlers inhabiting all but the 10th floor, where the Queen Snarler dwelled. The reason this dungeon was considered a beginner dungeon was because the Queens never left the 10th floor, allowing for easy training up until the very last floor.
Although the Queen Snarler was a B-class mana beast, a large party of E-class Adventurers was still capable of defeating it.
Another question that popped into my mind… was it normal to have more than one Queen in the dungeon? From what I read, Queen species were very territorial, and immediately battled against any potential competitors to maintain control.
Professor Glory didn’t really think much of it but I couldn’t help be bothered by it. This brings me to my last inquiry… How are those two Queens so much stronger than they normally should be?
I could understand Professor Glory having a hard time against two B-class mana beasts that are considered dungeon bosses, but she shouldn’t be losing. The Queen Snarler that I read about was easily supposed to be disposed of by an A-class Adventurer.
“Ugh… why is that one so much stronger?” As Professor Glory got up, she had to cleave a couple of minions out of her way.
As I fended off waves of Snarlers, my attention kept on drawing back to the Queen Snarler eating its former ally.
“Professor, does this usually happen?” I ask.
“Well I’ve heard that some species of mana beasts do indulge in cannibalism but I’ve never really seen this particular case. Why now of all times, I have no idea.” Shaking her head, she picks up her other sword on the ground and makes her way towards her opponent.
“GRRAAAHH!” As the Queen Snarler finished consuming her fallen comrade, a bizarre change occurred. Its once grey fur turned jet black and the small horn on its forehead that I failed to notice at first grew substantially and curved upwards. The once beady red eyes turned sharp and menacing, almost psychotic as its mouth started foaming.
Professor Glory doesn’t say anything but I know that there was a growing sense of doubt on her mind. Until now, getting back home safely was considered just a matter of time, but even my body couldn’t help but shiver involuntarily from the murderous intent that exuded out of this beast.
“Cough… Professor! We can’t… cough… keep this up!” Tessia shouted amidst the growls and hisses of the enemy.
Tessia’s condition didn’t look too good and brought to my attention a rather obvious problem we were now facing.
“Everyone! No more fire spells! The entrance of the cave is blocked so our supply of oxygen is limited!” I roared out.
From the burnt pile of corpses accumulating, the air was becoming thick as some of the weaker students began coughing uncontrollably.
The Queen and Professor Glory were in a stalemate, with our Professor on the losing side. As I focused on the main battle, I could see that the fighting style of the Queen Snarler completely changed. There was no trace of hesitation or sense of self-preservation. Each attack it lashed out at Professor Glory was with the intent to kill without caring for its own body. Usually that should’ve been its downfall, but that unique Queen Snarler’s black fur was able to absorb most of the damage from our professor’s attacks.
“Cough… Arthur… I think… my mana core is beginning to cough… act up.” Tess, who was a few meters behind me, fell to her knees as she began clutching her abdomen.
‘Papa! What’s wrong? Are you okay?’ Sylvie’s voice pops in my head.
‘We ran into a problem, get here as fast as you can and head down the stairs.’ I respond before focusing my mind on what’s happening here.
Several factors began weighing down on my mind now and I began to get a sense of nostalgia from my trip to the Dire Tombs. Did I have the power to clear the mountain of rubble blocking the front entrance to the stairs and even if I did, should I just take Tess and escape by ourselves?
No. Tess would never forgive me if she knew that I left everyone else in here to escape.
Then after making a way back up, do I stay behind and help Professor Glory kill the mutated Queen Snarler?
Whatever decision I choose to make, the first thing I had to do was clear this rubble. It was important that I clear a path back up in one try; since it was obvious the Queen wasn’t going to let us all escape.
“Professor, keep the Queen busy. I’ll try to open a way out of here for us!” Professor Glory had to work even harder to keep up with the Queen since she couldn’t use any fire techniques. After giving me a nod in affirmation, I get to work. Tessia wasn’t in any state to help and everyone else was too busy fending off the army of Minion Snarlers. Lucas had to resort to using heat spells to try and deter the Snarlers since oxygen levels were becoming more and more scarce.
I would have to do this by myself. I had to calculate this well. If I were to use a large enough fire spell in this state right now and fail, we were all going to begin suffocating in here. Water? Ice? There were too little water elemental mana particles in this cave to release anything strong enough to drill a hole through the mountain of rock. The once ice-filled cave was now dry and arid with a thick layer of smoke being produced from some of the burnt Snarler corpses.
That left me with wind and earth, or a mixture of both, but even with the level I am right now, I wasn’t confident in being able to produce a powerful enough attack. I thought of maybe using phase two, but with Tess in the condition she was in right now, I had to stay conscious at least until we get out of this dungeon.
Was there really no other option? As my mind began spinning for possible solutions, I see Professor Glory receive a pretty large blow to her right arm.
‘I’m almost there Papa! Hold on!’ Sylvie’s voice gives me an idea.
“Curtis! I need your help right now!” I roar across the battlefield.
“Arthur, I don’t think I can afford to…”
“Come, NOW!” I bark back before he can refute.
Curtis was a bloody, grimy mess, but from the shallow wounds on his body, it was obvious that the blood on him wasn’t his.
“What is it?” He pants heavily. I could tell he was exhausted by the wear on his face and body. His shield was badly dented and his sword looked dull from the repeated use.
“Do you think your beast will ability, World Howl, is strong enough to clear the rubble?” I turn his head to snap him back into attention.
“Arthur, I don’t think I have the mana to even be able to go into my first phase.” He shakes his head hopelessly.
“Just answer the question. Is it strong enough?”
“Y-yeah, if I had enough mana, I could potentially produce a blast bigger than the one on the mock team battle where you, um, got injured.” He scratches his head, confused by where I was going with this.
I thought about maybe directing the blast at the Queen Snarler but even if it were strong enough to maybe kill it, it would be impossible to accurately get only the Queen and not Professor Glory. It was safer to just go with this plan.
“Okay. I want you to not question what I’m about to do and just focus on going into your first phase and producing the blast strong enough to clear that mountain of rubble. Got it?” The amount of urgency and authority must have gotten through to Curtis because he just nods and turns around.
Taking off my seal and putting it in my dimension ring, I make sure to control the amount fluctuation in the mana so as to not tip anyone off. Everyone is occupied with the Snarlers but if I don’t control the mana release like Professor Glory did after she released her seal, I would draw attention from the Queen Snarler.
Feeling the untapped pool of mana that I now had access to, I place both my hands on Curtis’ back.
From the amount of mana I will into Curtis, the Prince involuntarily drops to one knee before he’s able to adjust his body to the sudden bombardment of mana.
Mana transference has been studied for many years according to professors and many of the books in the library, but it was a hopeless cause for them. They believed that if a mage was fire attribute, receiving mana from another fire attribute mage should be possible, but after countless tests and failures, they deemed it as implausible; the reason being that even if someone is a specialization, the mana inside their bodies aren’t purely of only that element. Hypothetically, if someone was able to condense and refine their core to highest sense, then with another one of someone of that same level and element, they could transfer mana to each other. Other than that, it would be impossible, except for me.
The fact that I’m able to manipulate all four elements allows me to adjust and mimic and input the types of mana and the ratio of each element of the person I’m transferring it to. It was sort of like what I did for my sister and Lilia when teaching them mana manipulation in their body but on a much bigger scale. Of course I haven’t perfectly mastered this so I’ll be wasting a lot of mana, but this was probably our best bet.
As I began slowly controlling and limiting the amount of each elemental mana particles I transmit to Curtis, I can’t help but grit my teeth in self-deprecation at the turn of events.
There were so many small signs that I chose to ignore, thinking that it would work out fine, and that I could handle it. Was I treating this life I had right now for granted? Being fortunate enough to have this amount of power at my age has definitely made me lose my past sense of rationality to a degree.
No longer a King, tied down by rules and politics as well as not being tied down by my own physical capabilities, I’ve become careless. In this world, the limits to my potential were boundless. Reaching the White stage or even further wasn’t a dream but a matter of time and effort.
The thing that appalled me the most and what I hated to admit was that, I was, in a sense, a bit like Lucas. I was nowhere near as much of a jerk as him and I had people I actually cared for beside myself, but I was becoming arrogant, like Lucas, arrogant to the extent of carelessness.
“I-I don’t know what you just did, Arthur but I feel great. I think I’ll be able to go into my first phase!” The Prince says, bringing me back to reality. I sense the change his body is going through internally since I’m the one transferring my mana to him.
“King’s Wrath.” Curtis let’s out a growl as his body begins to change.
I jerk my hands back in pain as Curtis releases his first phase of his Beast Will. Confused, I try transferring mana to him again but the rejection from his body is even stronger than the first time.
Did the mana from his beast will reject my mana?
Before I had the chance to try again, Curtis began gathering mana for his World Howl technique.
He crouches, lowering his center of gravity to withstand the recoil of World Howl, the mana from both his body and the atmosphere gathered in front of his open jaw.
During this time, I rush to where Tessia was curled behind the front line and scooped her up. Getting Tessia out of here would be priority. I was partly to blame for this mess. I should’ve done a better job to prevent something like this from happening in the first place.
“WORLD HOWL!” Curtis unleashes his powerful breath attack, but the mutated Queen must’ve sensed that something was wrong because it immediately changed its target from the wounded Professor Glory to Curtis.
“Oh no you don’t!” Bellowing at the top of her lungs, Professor Glory leaped up and grappled the mutated Queen in flight in hopes to deter it from reaching Curtis.
As planned, my mana transference paid off as Curtis’ trump card blasted a large hole through the rubble, clearing a path to the now visible stairway entrance back to the surface.
“EVERYONE! HEAD FOR THE STAIRS!” I roar through the sound of rocks falling and Snarlers growling.
“GO! NOW!” Professor Glory shouts too as she struggles to hold her own against the Queen Snarler.
The exhausted class makes one final push towards the entrance as Professor Glory holds the Queen at bay while the wall of Snarler corpses keeps the ones alive at bay for the brief moment.
“Claire, I’m trusting Tess to you.” I hand Tessia over to Claire, who seemed to be in the best shape right now.
“You’re not planning on staying, are you? You can’t be serious. As your commanding leader in the Disciplinary Committee I forbid…”
“Just go…” With the limited amount of time that we had, I release a sharp killing intent to get my point across, making her flinch backwards in surprise.
Helping the drained Curtis back to his feet, I push both of my Disciplinary Committee teammates towards the front entrance of the cave before turning back to where Professor Glory was fighting.
“Why the hell did you come back, Arthur.” I could almost feel the amount of frustration in my professor’s voice as she snapped at me through gritted teeth.
“We’re going to need both of us to kill this thing.” Taking Dawn’s Ballad back out from my dimension ring, I unsheathe it.
“You better hope this thing kills me because you’re going to be regretting not following my orders.” She responds, blocking a blow from the Queen’s sharp claws.
“Hey, I’m a professor too, remember?” I give her a weary smile before making a sharp swing with my blade.
“You’re too smart for your own good, Arthur.” She smiles back while shaking her head. The situation didn’t seem too good as the mana transference made me use most of my mana. If it weren’t for mana rotation, I probably would’ve gotten backlash already.
While battling the Queen and keeping her busy enough so the rest of the class could get out safely, I notice that the last one is Lucas. Our eyes lock in for a brief moment before he turns back his head and disappears into the entrance.
I could’ve sworn I saw him snort before he turned away.
“GRAAAH!” As the fight continued, I managed to sever one of the Queen’s wings so it wasn’t capable of flight any longer, but its thick fur was preventing us from doing anything more than giving it shallow wounds. This mutated Queen, which was almost 3 meters tall on its hind legs, was filled with wounds from both Professor Glory and I, but it didn’t seem to bother it at all.
“I don’t think we can kill this thing.” I shout to Professor Glory, who was on the other side of the Queen Snarler.
“We’ll need to at least bind it somehow so we can escape. I don’t think the Queen will follow us out of the dungeon!” She responds as the Queen howls in anger.
“I need you to keep it busy for 5 seconds, professor.” I reposition myself so Professor Glory was in my view.
“Okay.” She doesn’t question what I’m about to do as she unleashes another burst mana out of her core.
As Professor Glory leaps towards the mutated Queen, I put my sheath back into my dimension ring and grasp my sword with both hands. With the seal gone, I use the last of my mana to will lightning into Dawn’s Ballad.
“HAAAA!” Without mana strengthening my body, my dash towards the Queen Snarler feels like a crawl.
“Move!” At my signal, Professor Glory dashes out of the way as I stab my sword into an already existing wound that I managed to inflict just earlier between its shoulder blades.
“KRREEEEEEEEEEEEK!!!” The sudden shock seemed to be effective against the Queen as it began to spasm.
“LET’S GO!” Without even being able to pull my sword back out from the Queen Snarler, Professor Glory grabs me by my waist and carries me towards the front entrance.
As the hordes of Minions got in our way, Professor Glory cleaved our way through until we reached the front entrance.
“H-HOW?” Professor Glory could only gasp as both of us looked up. The Queen, with my sword still embedded in its spine, somehow recovered enough to make one desperate leap to keep us from escaping.
“Hurry!” I was currently dangling on top of my professor’s shoulder as I tried to snap her out of her shock. With the mutated Queen Snarler almost upon us we just managed to avoid her sharp claws before she landed hard on the ground.
Without the luxury to even look back, we made our way past the minions and into the hall when I see the mutated Queen crawling her way towards us. I guess my last attack did some damage because it wasn’t freely mobile as it awkwardly limped towards us, using its claws to drag its body.
Reaching the end of the hall where the stairs began to ascend, I noticed something odd about the Queen Snarler that was just a couple meters away from us.
Well… every bit of that mutated Queen was odd, but this was different. As it reached closer and closer to the beginning of the staircase where we were, its face and body began pulsating. Tumors began growing sporadically in random parts of its body and face.
Don’t tell me…
Before Professor Glory could even turn around, the force of the explosion pushed her forward while she lost her grasp of me, who was still on her shoulder.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the explosion caused by the Queen opened up a large hole.
“ARTHUR!” Through gritted teeth, I heard my professor’s desperate cry as she reached her hand out for me, but it was too late.
“Save Tess!” I call back out weakly before using my last bit of mana I’ve been gathering for the short amount of time to augment my body.