Chapter 5 – Dungeon crawling
Recently there’s been some commotion going on in the town with the NPCs, something about danger being nearby and whether the Kingdom’s knight squad can deal with the threat. Well, that’s just what I’ve picked up from loitering around and listening to their conversations while waiting for Dan and Nic to get online anyway. Seems like some kind of event may be approaching, it’s almost going to be the first full week since the game’s release, a few hardcore players have already hit level cap, although they’re still exploring the other portions of the game, and its unfathomable amounts of hidden secrets.
Soon enough, Dan and Nic are on and we meet up at the Adventurer’s Guild for our main purpose today: Complete quests and maybe get the [Inventory] item. We stroll down to the bulletin board, which now has more papers attached to it than before, one particular quest catches my eye..
There has been rumors going among the citizens that a “Graveyard” has appeared in the woods south of the Kingdom. The Kingdom’s knight brigade has previously explored the area and discovered a cave with a strange sigil at the top of the entrance. When attempting to delve deeper, the knights were prevented from entering the cave all together. We are looking for adventurers to assist us with the investigation of the cave.
Reward: 100 gold, 100000 exp」
“You guys have any idea what a “Graveyard” is?” (Me)
They shake their heads.
“I think this quest could be interesting, we could get on good terms with the Kingdom if we assist their efforts, and maybe they’ll reward us with that [Inventory] thing for bravery or something, I say we give it a shot. What say you guys?”
“I don’t know, it seems a lot like a dungeon quest to me. We don’t have the best raid set up for a high level dungeon run, but maybe a lower level one is okay? I think it’s a valid risk to take.” (Nic)
“Let’s give it a try? We’re in a game, it’s not like we die here we die in real life right? What’s there to lose?” (Dan)
We agreed to take up the quest and we accept the quest as a party. In the first place, the quest’s requirement is not like the others, it simply requires you to assist the Kingdom’s knights, so how long are we supposed to assist them for? Until they’re satisfied that the cave is not a “Graveyard” or a threat to the citizens? We could be doing this for a long while, but the exp and gold reward makes it worth.
There’s a warehouse down one of the lanes leading off the city square, it stores our items for free, but if you wanna take it out you gotta pay up. It also stores money apparently, but there’s no interest rates like a bank would have. Our party stores our recipe books and crafting station blueprints into the warehouse and only bring along our backpacks, weapons and whatever armor we’re wearing. The game isn’t very gear-dependent, but more skill-dependent, so with a good weapon, you can technically evade or parry off all attacks and clear a dungeon solo. Well, that’s if you’re really that skilled, stats do help improve your physical limits after all.
The three of us arrive at the southern woods of the Kingdom and make our way towards the source of the sounds. It appears that there are around 50 or so knights hanging around, one of them is sitting atop a horse, so I assume that one’s the commander of the knights, we make our way to him and I introduce myself.
“Hello, my name is Foxxie, this is Nyctophobic, and this is Daniroh. We’re here on the request for adventurer assistance through the Adventurer’s guild.”
“Oh thank goodness someone showed up, the request has been there for hours. I’m Grauk, Captain of the Fifth division knight squadron, Defender. Our knights combed a large part of the area around the Kingdom and discovered this cave. You lot don’t look like spellcasters to me, but we’ll take any help we can get.”
“Yes, I assume you’ve read the quest description? There is a sigil above the cave and it seems to be some sort of magical seal that prevents people from going inside.”
“Have you tried destroying the sigil?” (Dan)
“We’re not too sure of this mysterious enchantment, so we’ve not done anything to it, that’s why we requested help.”
“Oh so basically, you need bodies to throw at the sigil until you figure something out, is that it?” (Dan)
“……… Crude, but yes, you adventurers are immortal after all, to be honest that scares the King a lot, so far nothing horribly malicious has happened, but we’re not letting our guard down, for all you know this cave could be the work of an adventurer as well!”
“I see, please lead us to the entrance of the cave, we’ll take a look.” I try to mediate before Dan gets further annoyed.
“Are you kidding me Foxxie? These people have not even tried anything to deal with the solution, we’re essentially just disposables to them!” (Dan)
“Hey now, we accepted this job after all, the reward is still fair compensation as of now, so let’s just go with it and see what happens first?” (Nic)
“Let’s take proper precaution, we’ll try physically destroying the sigil before moving onto other more dangerous methods.” (Me)
Tension rises among the group, nobody really wants to experience death in the game, death in VRMMOs are still too surreal and not many are willing to go through the experience, despite knowing that you’d respawn anyway.
We reach the entrance and Grauk points us towards the top of the cave. True enough, there is a sigil there, it doesn’t look like any foreign language I know of, it looks like a simple motif. Even if it really contains magic, it shouldn’t be enough to destroy the area. I think.
“Let’s start with a rock, I have the highest STR here, so I’ll throw it and see what happens.” (Me)
I motion the rest to stand back, take a nice chunky rock and let it fly. It hits the sigil, seemed to chip off a corner of the embossed area but otherwise nothing else really happened.
“Did it work?” (Grauk)
“I dunno, wanna try walking in?” (Me)
“You go.” (Grauk)
What? They’ve already tried walking in before anyway, why me now? Sigh.. I’ll go.
As I approach the entrance, a window pops up in my vision.
「The Cave of Quezacoatl
Graveyard: Lv 15 – 30」
Ahhhhhhhh that’s why they couldn’t enter, this is the entrance to a dungeon, the game prevents NPCs not affiliated with players from entering. I boldly step forward and walked underneath the sigil and past it. I was inside the cave.
“What? That’s all it took?” (Nic)
“Cheyyyy, I got all worked up for nothing.” (Dan)
“How did you do it?” (Grauk)
“Ahh, I’m sorry Captain but you and your men will probably not be able to enter, this is a Graveyard.” (Me)
“A Graveyard? Appearing here?! I must let the King know of this at once! Sorry to trouble you, but do you mind clearing it out? We’ll double the reward.” (Grauk)
A short discussion was held between Nic, Dan and I. We pretty much agreed to clear out the dungeon, since we’re at the upper ends of the level range, but Nic wants to try something. So Dan and I took a stand back to observe.
“I’m sorry, but the quest we accepted wasn’t to clear out the Graveyard, we simply had to help investigate it and I believe we have done so adequately. Would we still be getting our reward?” (Nic)
“What?! You won’t clear it?” Grauk exclaims. “This is why I hate working with adventurers, they’re so selfish and only care for their own gains.” He mutters under his breath.
“What? I couldn’t hear you?” (Nic)
“Alright, we’ll triple the quest reward. Is that enough compensation for you to accept?”
“Hmm… How about 5 times the reward?”
“ARE YOU INSANE? THERE’S A LIMIT TO HOW DISRESPECTFUL YOU CAN BE, THIS IS A DIRECT ORDER FROM THE KING, YOU SHOULD BE GRATEFUL TO BE ABLE TO EVEN RECEIVE THIS COMMAND!”
“I dunno man, all I know is the request made to the Adventurer’s guild wasn’t to clear out a Graveyard, so as far as we’re concerned, our job is pretty much done here.”
If the phrase “stare daggers” was literal, I’m pretty sure Nic would have had a nice collection of them right now.
“4 times the reward, I can’t expend the budget beyond that. Please deal with the Graveyard.”
“Alrighty then, I hope you keep your word.”
“A knight never goes back on his words.” Grauk spits out while looking very offended. “We will contact the Adventurer’s guild and have them make amendments. Good day to you!”
Grauk gathers his men and they started leaving the woods, leaving our party alone in front of the dungeon.
“Wow, that’s some strong bluffing skills there bro.” Dan says while punching Nic in the shoulder.
“You wanted to test if quest rewards were negotiable? I must say this is quite a result. 400 gold per person, that’s a lot of money.” (Me)
“Yea well, it was only a test. I didn’t think it would trigger him that badly though, I feel kinda sorry for him now, but hey, money’s money amirite? (Nic)
“So the mission is to clear out the dungeon right? We should be fine, we’re near the level limit, let’s go!” I urge excitedly. This is the first time we’re running a dungeon! The phat lewts awaits us!
When we entered the cave, we expected it to be dark and echoing with monster growls, but this one was quiet and relatively well lit, or at least we weren’t completely blinded. I guess it’s part of the dungeon’s design. We walked though the large cavern in search of anything interesting, there were branches in the path here and there so Nic took out a piece of parchment and started keeping a map.
“Whoa, when did you get those things?” (Me)
“I figured we’d need to find our way around if we were running dungeons, and since there’s no information anywhere, we’d just have to create our own. I bought them from a nearby vendor while you guys were storing your stuff at the warehouse.” (Nic)
“Nice thinking. Now we can explore the entirety of the dungeon and not leave a single loot behind.” (Dan)
While chatting, we entered a particularly large cavern. This seems foreboding, are we gonna fight a large horde of monsters? Insects? Large caverns usually means boss fights as well, this doesn’t look good. I warn Dan and Nic to prepare for combat as we cautiously moved forward.
“There!” I whispered to them. There’s a large beetle crawling around on the floor, and by large I mean human-sized.
“Oh that’s disgusting.” Daniroh turns away from the sight.
“You guys wait here, I’ll try to sneak up on it, see if there are insta-kill mechanics.” (Nic)
Nic holds out his 2 shields, the Billon shield on his main hand and the other one he picked up on his offhand. He slowly sneaks up on the beetle, manages to get behind it, raises his shield and slams it right into the back of the bug. It doesn’t look dead, but its movements look severely impeded. I took this chance and used Lunge followed by Earth Splitter and finished off my crashing my greatsword straight down the beetle’s neck area. It’s head comes clean off and rolls on the floor for a short distance before stopping when it hits the wall.
“Hey come over Dan, I think it’s fine now.” (Me)
“Yeaaaa no I’m fine, you guys have the loot for that, I didn’t help do anything so it’s fine.”
“Awww, don’t be shy, come you can have the head~” (Nic)
“AAAAIIIEIEEEEEEEE” Dan lets out very feminine scream, so high pitched it made my ears ring for a bit after he stopped.
“You’re afraid of bugs Dan?” (Me)
“No I’m not afraid of them, I just don’t like to deal with them.” Dan adamantly refutes.
“You sure or not~~” Nic runs after Dan with the beetle head in his hands.
“Eh stop it, stop it or I’m gonna have to make you stop.”
Whoa, that’s the first time I’ve seen Dan get so serious, maybe he just really can’t deal with bugs. Nic stops and throws the head back to me.
“C’mon man, it’s just a bug.” (Nic)
“No. No you.”
“Okay okay, we’ll clean up here you just watch our backs k?”
“Eh Foxxie let’s clean it up, I think the shell on its back could make a nice shield. Did I shatter it when I slammed my shield down on it?”
The beetle’s carapace was slightly cracked, but I think it could still be usable. I break it at the cracked portion and put half of the back carapace into my backpack. Meanwhile Nic just took up the other half of the wing carapace and tried to equip it as a shield. There’s no grasping point on the inside, so I don’t think it’ll work, but it does look like a decent shield. I wonder if I can smelt down the shell without it burning up.
The remainder of the dungeon was similar, a few enemies pop up, Nic sneaks up on them and use Shield Slam, I Lunge in and follow up with Earth Splitter. Our 2-man combo works surprisingly well, but because all the monsters were insectoid, Dan couldn’t really help out. We did make use of his backpack though, just cos he can’t fight doesn’t mean he can’t carry loot right? As we proceeded on, we came upon a chest beside the road.
“Hey look a chest! We hit the jackpot!” (Nic)
“No no no wait a minute, why would a chest be in a cave, it doesn’t make sense!” (Me)
“Why not? We’re in a game, not real life, it doesn’t have to make sense.” (Dan)
Touché. Dan has a point. We open up the chest and peer inside, there seems to be some potions, preserved meat and a few pieces of paper. It’s almost as if they belonged to someone who was living in the cave.
“Who are you guys and what are you doing with my chest?”
An unknown voice shouts from behind us, we quickly prepare for an engagement, my sword is out, firmly grasped between my 2 hands. Nic has his shields in front of him and he stands furthest in front. Dan places his hands on his knives’ handles and prepares to draw them from their leather sheaths.
What stands in front of us was not another Drakonid, or a man, or any of the game’s races, but a skeleton instead. He’s clad in leather armor and brandishes a cutlass in each hand.
“You guys stealing my loot? HUH?”
“No, uhh, we were just taking a look, we were just about to put them back.” (Me)
“No I’m serious, we haven’t even taken anything yet.”
“THOSE WHO LIE MUST SUFFER THE WRATH OF ZARK!”
He lounges straight at me, Nic stands in his path with his shield raised.
Nic staggers backwards a little, looks like Mr Skeltal here has a bit more muscle than we can see on his body. He quickly swings his other cutlass at the side, but Nic is ready with the 2nd shield to block him off.
Dan shouts as he uses Double Strike from behind the skeleton, but it doesn’t cut through its bones. Dan jumps back in surprise, but the skeleton is already advancing towards him. Nic follows closely after it and uses Shield Slam, the aggro generated should be enough to offset Daniroh’s damage, I move over to Dan’s location and use Earth Splitter. It looks like I under estimated the distance, and only manage to barely scratch the back of the skeleton’s armor. I follow up by crashing my sword down onto the skeleton’s head, usually for most enemies, this would be the end of the battle, but Mr Skeltel here drank too much milk, his bones are way too tough! Not even a crack? C’mon you gotta be kidding me right?
“Use blunt force! Skeletons are weak to blunt force, their bones are tough against edged weapons, but you can crush them with blunt weapons!” Nic screams above the noise of metals clashing against each other.
Blunt force? My main weapon is a greatsword, there’s no blunt force here! Right as I thought that, Dan threw a punch at the skeleton. It doesn’t seem to affect the skeleton, but maybe I can give it a try. I use Earth Splitter again, but this time I clasps my fists together and bring them up against the pelvis of the skeleton.
I think it’s working! Although it didn’t shatter his bone, it sounded like it fractured it! I can fight!
“Take the aggro off Nic if possible, he has a shield, it’s the only blunt weapon here!” (Dan)
“Alright I’ll try.”
Dan’s punches aren’t hitting hard enough, he has high AGI which gives him speed, but they do little damage. I pick up a nearby rock from the floor, grasp it in my right hand and bring it crashing down on its skull. A sickening crack is heard, and the rock shatters, but the job is done, I’ve managed to attract it’s attention. The skeleton dashes at me, I hold out my greatsword in front of me, attempting to parry its blows, but it’s too fast for me.
He swings at me from the right, I parry it, but his left hand swings down and cuts me deep on my shoulder. A sharp stinging pain courses through my body, but it doesn’t seem to impede my movements. I continue to trade blows with the skeleton, but I don’t get much chances to go on the offensive.
“Better be doing something now Nic!” I scream at him.
Nic is further away from me than he was before, but he’s closing that gap really fast. He started further away so he could gain more speed I see, I notice his charge, and I position myself so that the skeleton is in front of me, and behind me is the rock wall. Looks like plan bonecrusher is ready for execution.
“NOW!” Nic yells.
I parry the skeleton’s next swing with all my strength, it staggers a little backwards but Nic is already behind it and charges in like a freight train, smashing Mr Skeltel against the wall, his skull is completely crushed and the rest of his body is now motionless.
“Did we d-” (Nic)
“NO DON’T SAYS THOSE WORDS.” I stopped him. “They’re bad flags to trigger, let’s just observe for now.”
We looked at the slumped pile of bones for about 15 seconds and concluded that Mr Skeltel here is dead. Well, he was already dead, but then he became undead and now he’s dead-dead, but yea you get the picture.
“Those were some tough bones!” (Me)
“I think this could be the miniboss, we should prepare ourselves for the final boss of the dungeon soon.” (Dan)
“I want his armor.” (Nic)
“Hey before that, you got any potions to spare? I took quite a beating while you were preparing.”
“Oh, yea there were some in the chest, lemme go get them for you.”
We walked back to the chest to collect the contents, and took a break while we’re at it. Our strategy of Nic tanking while Dan and I slice the opponent up didn’t work this time, but we managed to improvise and utilize the enemy’s weakness. For future references, we are now discussing possible scenarios and strategies for potentially difficult encounters.
“WHO DARES INTRUDE MY LAIR.” (???)
“I’m sorry boss, it appears that our location has been found, we must move from here, quickly!” (???)
“NO. I WILL FACE THE CHALLENGERS. IF THEY BE WORTHY OF MY TREASURE, I WILL BE ABLE TO PASS ON IN PEACE.”
“NO BUTS, I’M THE BOSS HERE AND YOU WILL LISTEN TO ME!”