Chapter 29: Chapter 29: End of the first day
While Frost and Maya were having their fun safely within the dungeons private space, the group of adventurers were getting ready to leave camp.
John had exited his coma abruptly when some of the herbal cloths were being applied. He screamed in pain before convulsing but was otherwise alright. At least each of them were well enough to move and fend off any lower ranked monsters, at least for a short time.
The emergency treatment however would have to do until they reached the communal camp in the Northrend forest or Furano. Once there they could visit a healer or purchase some potions and rest in their own beds until fully healed.
The group certainly didnt look their best, ripped up leather armours and torn clothes covered in dry blood. Luckily, they had a whetstone so at least their weapons were back up to scratch after a few rounds of sharpening. Johns shield however was beyond repair and would only be dead weight so he tossed it into the fire, cant have the goblins using it.
The four were currently huddled around the campfire trying to retain as much heat as possible before moving out. Theyd replenished their strength with some dried meat and soup and were just building up the nerve to leave. If they ran into anything like a couple frost wolves or that pack of winter boars, theyd be toast so their courage was to be expected, a little lacking. And thats only within the dungeon they still needed to make it back home safely through the Northrend forest, avoiding the monsters there but more importantly to avoid crossing paths with bandits.
“Jack do you roughly remember the way out of this monster lair” John asked as he rubbed his hands in front of the fire.
“To be honest... not really, the constant blizzard made leaving markings almost impossible. I made some scratches on a few rocks and boulders we passed but finding them in itself will be a challenge and considering how we ran here with all we had, Im not sure of our current position. Best guess, we head south until something familiar shows up.” Jack shook his head and looked down in dismay, he didnt have any tracking or mapping skills, so he had to do it the old-fashioned way.
Unfortunately, he wasnt the most skilled and with the dungeons environment and their recent erratic movements made it that much harder. However, it wasnt really Jacks fault, he was only an E-rank adventurer. If he had a mapping or scouting skill, hed easily be made D-rank regardless of his personal strength.
His response caused Thorin and Fen to frown and lower their heads in disappointment, luck wasnt on their side it seemed.
“Well, its better than nothing.” John sighed before replying, at least if they came across one of the marked rocks, theyd be able to recount their steps and exit the lair.
“Well do as Jack suggested and head south.... Put out the fire and lets go.”
The group looked reluctant but eventually listened to Johns order, using snow to put out the fire and picking up their gear before walking out of the cave with grim resolve.
It took them around four hours to find the exit, heading south lead them to a dead end, so they had to backtrack. Eventually after walking west, they came across one of the stones marked by Jack and from there it was fairly simple. They didnt come across any strong monsters, but a few goblins and artic foxes watched them from afar not daring to get too close. Whether on orders from Frost or the fact that the adventurers were radiating a strong death aura that filled them with fear, the monsters kept their distance.
Frost and Maya occasionally looked at the map to see how they were faring but chose not to intervene any further. After their little spat Frost simply bought another mammoth steak for 15DP which he cooked himself with Mayas occasional input. It certainly wasnt as good as hers, a little over done but still delicious. The rest of the time Frost simply took a nap, while Maya did her own thing.
“Young master theyve exited.” Whispered Maya, Frost was currently asleep on his bed and Maya was whispering in his ear.
“Mmmhm” her breath tickled his ear causing him to release a slight moan. He slowly opened his eyes feeling incredibly refreshed, his body felt light and flexible as he sat up and stretched his arms upward.
I feel great, he thought as his shoulders popped.
He turned around to face the stunning beauty that was Maya who was gently smiling his way.
“Good morning Maya.” He smiled back, ah getting woken up by a beauty really is the best.
Mayas eyes twitched upward.
“Its the middle of the night young master.” She replied stiffly.
“Hmmmm.... Well good night then.” Unable to understand her sarcasm and the subtle meaning in her words he replied frankly.
“....” Maya stared at him in silence, unsure on how to proceed.
“Have they exited” He asked Maya to wake him up when the group of adventurers reached the exit/entrance of the dungeon if he wasnt already up.
“Yes, theyre just about to cross the threshold.”
“Did they run into anymore issues”
“They lost track of their position for a while and were wary of some of the goblins and foxes that approached them but after locating one of the boulders that their scout marked earlier, they found their way back without much hassle.”
“Hmmm they marked the rocks” Frost tilted his head to the side and cupped his chin as he tried to remember.
“Yes, the scout.... Jack was it, scratched a few symbols into the rocks they passed. A common strategy used by adventurers when exploring new areas however if they left it too long the dungeon would have healed itself, so they got lucky.”
“How long is too long” This could be an issue; new adventurers would simply follow previous groups markings making the 5km trek too easy to navigate.
“48 hours give or take depends on the deepness of the markings and the object theyre imprinted on. If it was the outer walls of the room, itd be less than 12 hours.”
“Oh! thats ok then, 48 hours is fine.” Frost moved from the bed and stood up.
“Lets go and say goodbye to our guests before tallying up todays gains and expenses.” At the word expenses Frost felt a sharp pain in his heart, the extra steak he bought came to mind as did some regret.
Frost brought up the dungeon menu once they were seated in the living room. On the screen the adventurers could be seen smiling ear to ear as they passed the entrance and returned to the outside world.
“I guess their first dungeon experience was rather painful.” Seeing the joy on the groups faces as they left, Frost couldnt help but feel a bit of pride.
“Considering how easy you went on them they really shouldnt be celebrating.” Maya spoke harshly and shook her head in disappointment. She didnt have that good opinion of John and his companions.
“Regardless they were our firstcustomers and I shall always remember them.” Frost wasnt disappointed in the slightest, his plan worked out perfectly. The local adventurer guild in Furano should send some inspectors soon and they shouldnt be too strong either making this venture a roaring success.
“However, if they enter the dungeon again with the same amount of pitiful strength and lack of foresight then I cant be blamed for revealing my true strength.” Frost smiled evilly as if a predator eying prey, he even licked his lips.
This elicited a happy response from Maya, she smiled and lightly laughed before looking at the adventurers in the same way.
“Were out were finally out!” Roared Fen as the light of the moon shone into his eyes, even though it was the dead of night Fen could swear that the world had never been brighter.
“Safe... were safe.” Jack chimed in, tears threatening to leak from his eyes. He felt so relieved, never had he felt so close to death than when they faced off against those frost wolves but now... they only needed to pass through an area they know like the back of their hands, easy peasy.
Thorin and John were ecstatic as well but didnt let their guards down, they knew that this was just the first hurdle. Only once they reached Furano would they be truly safe.
“Everyone huddle up!” John ordered, bringing their celebration to an abrupt end.
Within a few seconds they were all huddled together arms around one anothers shoulders and facing inward.
“This was most definitely the most dangerous situation that we the [Artic Warband] have ever encountered in our career but also hopefully one of the most important.” John spoke sternly, occasionally giving Fen glances to make sure he was fully understanding the seriousness of his words.
Their adventuring party was called the [Artic Warband], named after a small regiment of the Northrend army that some of their family members had been a part of. This name brought them pride and honour and although it wasnt as ambitious or as glamorous as say the ice dragon slayers or the invincible berserkers which some local parties came up with, it was personal and meant something to them.
“We all managed to survive this event by sheer dumb luck and luck doesnt last. We need to be stronger, better, each and every one of us needs to improve quickly or next time we wont be so fortunate.” Johns words sunk in deep, everyone could feel the weight and pressure, his words were true, they could have easily died today. John and even Thorin had made similar speeches to the group in the past but none of them hit home. They were young, reckless, lazy, and ignorant. Only with todays events did they finally understand the fragility of their lives.
To Johns surprise none of them played him off, they each stared into his eyes with fierce determination.
Eh! This is going much easier than expected.... Did I miss something. Of course, this was good news but still he felt that it was rather unusual given their personalities, especially Fens.
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When John was still in his comatose state Jack, Fen and Thorin had already made their pledges, they were determined to never see their eldest brother in such a wounded state ever again.
Seeing their fierce and determined looks John couldnt help but smile and clench his fists. He moved his right hand into the centre of the group gesturing for everyone to do the same.
“[Artic Warband] on 3”
“[ARTIC WARBAND!]!!!” The four of them shouted with such strength that snow fell from the nearby trees. After a moment of silence, the group roared in laughter before quickly departing into the Northrend Forest with a confident spring in their steps.
Many years later the [Artic Warband] having achieved great success and becoming an A-rank party would always look back and remember this day as the day they truly became adventurers.
Meanwhile somewhere high above Nova, within a separate dimension a storm was brewing. It had been roughly 24 hours since the 100 dungeon cores opened their doors to the public and like any doting father, Dark was eagerly watching their first steps however he wasnt alone.
Bang! A teacup was smashed onto a hard floor.
“Say that again Light!” Dark the composed and awe-inspiring God and Frosts father was currently in an enraged state. The very air around him was bursting into flames due to his anger, the pressure his body was exuding on the space was shattering the objects in the room. The table and cups suddenly burst into millions of pieces before turning to ash and finally vanishing into nothingness.
Only a single chair and cup had survived this onslaught, sitting across from Dark unperturbed by his outburst was another equally handsome middle-aged man dressed in a white kimono. He too was giving off an otherworldly pressure that allowed his chair and teacup to remain undamaged. This man was known as Light and was the God that created the world of Nova alongside Dark, his only equal and best friend.