7 The Malayeen Dungeon
~Chapter 7: The Malayeen Dungeon
"Th— This is a dungeon!?" Kirin couldn't help but voice out his surprise.
The unassuming mud pile from the entrance actually led to a really wide plaza. The dungeon's interior was far from being a cave— It looked like an underground city more than anything!
People were freely roaming around as if they weren't inside a monster-infested dungeon.
"This is just the receiving hall of the dungeon. Most dungeons which are this close to a city would be partially subjugated by the kingdom's army for the sake of safety. We choose certain tunnels and create our own 'routes' when we do dungeon raids," Marianna explained.
"It's not a surprise that you don't know much about these things," she smiled, adding, "Perhaps you're used to wild dungeons instead? Well, dungeons partially managed by kingdoms isn't really common. Not every army in the Belur Continent could subjugate strong dungeons."
"So, those are?" Kirin pointed at a wall at the farthest part of the plaza lined with gates.
"Tunnel entrances." this time, Zeph answered, "They lead to the actual dungeon."
"Ohhh", Kirin nodded, 'It's no wonder why the system didn't notify when I entered. This place isn't considered as part of the Malayeen Dungeon anymore.'
Marianna led the team towards a gate— the third one from the leftmost side of the wall.
She then instructed, "This is the safest possible route I could map out. If we start at this entrance, we can easily make an exit through the fourteenth gate before midnight. Just follow my lead. Eight hours of raiding should be enough for us to earn back what we paid for the permit."
The rest of the party agreed. Doing a safe route inside the dungeon made it clear that their leader wanted to have, at least, one successful raid. They took riskier and greedier routes back then thinking they could earn more, only having them getting injured and pushed back by beasts, even as far as risking the life of their hired porter.
Kirin followed the Purge Party as they entered the gate. 'This time, it truly feels like a dungeon.'
System Notification— You've entered an area.
-Name: Malayeen Dungeon
-Type: Red Mana Core Dungeon
-Location: Outskirts of Vani City, Heron Kingdom
-Difficulty: F-Grade Threat - Non-threatening
As per usual, a notification screen appeared. Now that he knows people can't see the illusory screens, Kirin did not worry and calmly read through the notification. He was about to close the screen when he noticed the dungeon difficulty, he then inquired, "Miss Marianna, didn't you say this dungeon's difficulty level is D?"
"Yes. Well, according to the guild, that is," she answered.
'Hmmm… the difficulty level is skewered to my favor as well,' Kirin pondered, 'It might have something to do with my level? After all, "difficulty" is subjective. Some things might be hard for some could be easy for others,"
Kirin closed the screen and followed the party, not minding the difference in difficulty anymore. Besides, who in the right mind would complain if things suddenly become easier? Not him, that's for sure.
The deeper they went, the hotter the dungeon felt. The air gradually became warm and dry.
"I'm really not a fan of red core dungeons…" Zeph complained as he wiped the sweat off his face.
Some members nodded in agreement; those panting even harder than Zeph.
"Here," Kirin handed out waterskins to the exhausted members of the party. Besides spare weapons and food, the majority of supplies Kirin was carrying are waterskins. An abundant amount of water is necessary when exploring a red core dungeon.
Around three members of the party were heavily susceptible to the red core's magic power. Two of those members have light-blue mana color, while the last one has green. Although they could tolerate the effects of the core, their magic power would obviously dwindle and be weakened.
Kirin didn't ask why Marianna allowed these members on the raid. It was obvious— She needed every ounce of manpower she could get. Although the red core was indeed a burden to these members, it's magic power isn't lethal to them. The effects would only remain on the surface.
The party kept moving. It took about an hour before they encountered their first beast.
Everyone remained calm and unfazed as if they met the creature a million times already.
Kirin looked at the beast with wonder. It was a lizard-like creature, but instead of the usual dark green skin, the beast had a bright orange palette. It stood on its two hind legs, making it look tall and domineering.
Bright Ember Salamander (LV. 2)
-Mana Color: Red
-Monster Type: Beast - Amphibian
-Monster Class: Lava Dweller - Fire Mage
System's Assessment: Creature's threat is [negligible] to the host.
Kirin calmly watched as the Purge Party mounted a well-organized attack. 'Didn't they say that they were terrible at raiding? What gives?' The Purge Party wasn't fumbling around cluelessly like what Kirin expected. They were… pretty decent.
Marianna easily deflected the Bright Ember Salamander's first fireball, launching it back towards the unexpecting beast. As a mana-red, Marianna didn't sustain any damage from the projectile's ember flames.
The unimpressive fireball, which was only the size of a fist, hit the beast's head, slightly knocking it back. It didn't do much damage, however, as the ball lost its strong momentum.
Zeph moved in between Marianna and the beast, putting forward his steel-wood stout shield. Two of the party members with blue mana positioned behind Marianna, channeling some sort of spell which formed rope-like waterspouts. The waterspouts attached themselves into Marianna's purple robes as if they were sentient.
The robes turned fiery, but the flames it emitted wasn't hot. Oddly enough, it did the opposite and actually dispersed the surrounding heat, making the tunnel a little cozy.
The flames spewed by the purple robes gradually formed into tiny fireballs.
Kirin was fascinated by the spectacle, 'They're really working well together!'
He was surprised by how the Purge Party performed as a team. However, Kirin knew that a spell which required three people to channel— and another one to buy them time— was something utterly inefficient.
The rest of the team immediately backed the two mana-blue members as soon as they finished the spell channeling. Kirin did his job and provided the necessary consumables for them to recover their mana.
It didn't take long before the salamander beast recovered. Its bright orange eyes gleamed with anger. Instead of channeling another fireball, it directly attacked— charging towards Zeph head on.
Boom! Baam! Splat!
A series of unpleasant sounds rang. The tiny fireballs, which casually floated above Zeph, decimated the salamander beast as soon as it got inside its attack range. No wonder why Zeph stood still even when the beast was charging; he had complete trust on the spell created by his teammates.
"Well. That went better than expected," Zeph said, smiling. He then tucked back his stout shield.
Marianna was about to approach Zeph to thank him for a job well done— being extraordinarily brave and unfazed— when the surroundings suddenly heated up; abnormally scorching that even sweat would immediately dry as up as soon as it drips.
Everyone except Kirin suffered from a drastic change in temperature.
Party members with light-blue mana hurriedly conjured portable ice-packs using the remaining water inside their waterskins. "Here, hold this!" they passed around the ice-packs, making sure no one would collapse under the intense heatwave. The Purge Party huddled and shared the coolness from the ice.
It didn't take long before the culprit appeared.
The ground under the dead salamander wriggled, slowly swallowing the beast's corpse.
The tunnel trembled and the warm boulders shook: a terrifying entity appeared—
A fire golem, which was about three meters in height, suddenly stood in front of the Purge Party; towering over everyone present. It then bellowed, spitting fiery sparks in the air.