[Arc 3] Chapter 6: Ruins of the Beast: First Half
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A quick briefing later in the HQ (treehouse)...

"So, Mira got a 'Random Creation'-disease, and now she wants to destroy a Dungeon so she is allowed to use it more?" - Noire

"Spot on." - Garami

"NO, IT'S NOT! Not that bad, at least. B-but if you also get to know the sweet temptation of scoring something big-" - Mira

"Yup, definitely a disease." - Alf

"Disease." - Iron & Revi

"No, it's NOOOT!! And Garami, you were also all for attacking the place!" - Mira

Yeah, yeah..., doesn't change the fact that she's got a gambling problem.

"Ehem, then, back to business. The reason I wanna take down this Dungeon is divided into three. First, the Dungeon is just an hour's walk away from ours. Since there's no telling if they are gonna attack us if they get to know about our existence, I prefer to strike now as we have the advantage." - Garami

"They didn't notice you guys?" - Alf

"We were spying from the top of a large dune, so it should be alright." - Mira

"Second: We need more EXP for the Dungeon. I wanna increase the number of facilities!!" - Garami

"Kitchen facilities!" - Revi

"A workshop!" - Noire

"*Nod, nod, nod*!" - Iron

Kukukuku. Over 50% is now dancing in the palm of my hand!

"And the third: I think that Dungeons are made with the purpose to take over other Dungeons." - Garami

"Hah? Where did that come from?" - Alf

"Remember when I told you about my Dungeon Core gaining some of the traits to the Dungeon Core of Tir na Nog? Back then, the System Message that noticed me of the event referred to the Cursed Capital as 'the conquered Dungeon'." - Garami

"...That's... kinda strange. We destroyed the place, not conquered it." - Mira

"Right? It's not for certain that this theory is correct, therefore I wanna test it out on some weak Dungeon first. If we're lucky, we may increase the limit of the CP or FP, we may even get some DP to increase the Dungeon's stats." - Garami

"Kitchen!" - Revi

"Workshop!" - Noire

"*Nod, nod, nod*!!" - Iron

Yes, yes. If we do get something like that outta this mission, I'll think about it.

"However, the most valuable we may obtain from this raid is knowledge." - Garami

"......Knowledge?"

"...As in, if we get to know that Dungeons are supposed to free-for-all-it with each other, before having to go the long way of increasing the Knowledge-stat, if that info is even mentioned there." - Garami

"Aaahh."

"So, anyone against using this 'neighbor' as a guinea pig?" - Garami

"Nope!"

"Then, let's start with the strategy meeting. Goblin, the map." I asked the goblin that had been waiting in the corner of the room all the while. It's the same guy that Mira got from the Random Creation.

"Hmm? Where did-" - Noire

"H-here's where we found the Dungeon!" almost shouted Mira, more than happy about changing the subject.

The Dungeon is of the Ruin-type, a Dungeon that's excellent in traps, according to the Knowledge-pedia after it reached rank E. Old buildings that's on the point of crumbling into dust, ancient magical runes decorating the dilapidating structures, and undeads and guardians from a lost age still wandering through the ruins.

"However, instead of golems and the like, there were tons of beasts running around!" - Mira

According to Mira, the ruins were the home of several Beast-type monsters such as Sandingos, sand-colored dingos that stores sand in their fur so that they have a smokescreen ready whenever they want, Carrier Camels, a larger breed of the camels back on Earth and way more durable than them, Dire Wolves, one of the worst, non-magical wolves you've seen, and Gnolls, hyena-like demi-monsters, not that different from orcs, except that they're, as mentioned, hyenas instead of pigs.

All the monsters mentioned are rank-E. Gnoll-species have class-based evolutions, like the goblins, but Mira and her party had no method to confirm their appearance back then. 

There were other monsters as well, such as Dungeon Goblins, Screech Bats, and Living Rocks. These are F-ranks, and there were way fewer of them compared to the beasts, so there's no need to worry about them that much, except for some evolved E-ranked goblins with classes. Again, Mira and her crew couldn't detect their presence.

"...Garami. Didn't you say you could let the Dungeon have the Sand attribute when you built it?" - Alf

"If you're asking because you think this place's attribute is that, then yes, I could, and yes, it's definitely Sand going on in those ruins." - Garami

The Darkness attribute came from me, the Water- and Death attributes from the Core, the Earth attribute came prolly because I made the Dungeon inside a cave.

Unless the Dungeon Master of the ruins did the same and/or having a Dungeon Core with one or more attributes in it, then the only possible attributes for the Dungeon is that of the Dungeon Master and the Sand attribute that comes from the desert region. And as proof, Mira mentioned that the Carrier Camels and Sandingos were the majorities, except for the Gnolls that are the main force of the Dungeon from the looks of it.

"Also, we noticed that the Core was placed in a large building in the middle of the ruins. The flow of aether leaves no doubt." - Mira

As expected of a sprite, she's got the eyes for stuff like this.

"In that case, this Dungeon must still be at level 1. Considering that large number of monsters, they must be using all their FP for facilities to keep them alive even when living in ruins in the desert." - Garami

"The odds for traps are low then." - Alf

"Right. For the Dungeon's stats, I would say that both Subordinates and Strength are both at E, with Facilities at least at F. No clue about the remaining ones..." - Garami

"What if the doggies are connected to the Movement-stat? They're way faster than the likes of Gnolls." - Mira

I, Mira, and Alf kept on discussing the Dungeon while the other three started to play a game of trump while waiting... hey! You guys should do some work too!

"Then, how many should we take? The Dungeon Monsters can only leave the place if they're added to a party..." - Mira

In the end, we decided to take a shot at the Dungeon. We just need to figure out the members of the expedition. As Mira said, the monsters can only leave a certain distance from the Dungeon at the moment. The Knowledge-pedia mentioned there exists several methods to get around these limitations, and the [Party]-skill is one. 

"I'm not going. I'm going to be no good if we are fighting outside in the sun." - Alf

Well, they're called "ruins" for a reason. The roof's not at 100%, to say the least.

I looked at the other three. Iron's... still as shaky as a newborn deer. And that's when he's sitting still! Yeah, he needs some more days' break. And Revi is even more outta the question.

That leaves us with...

---

Two days after the meeting, we were ready for the expedition. The leading members are me, Mira, and Noire. Alf and Iron are holding the fort, while Revi has the mission of training some of the monsters in the art of cooking, or so I told her so she wouldn't make a story outta this.

The three of us are leading a group of monsters each. My party consists of a Cave Scorpion, two Dark Elves, an Ushi-Oni, and a Greater Demonian Bat. Noire has a Cave Scorpion, a Greater Demonian Bat, the Demonian Minyarda, a Zerbreus, and the Reha Phraga under her command. And Mira is leading two Cave Scorpions, two Zerbreuses, and a Dark Elf.

We tried to give each group a set of physical tanks (either Cave Scorpion or Ushi-Oni), some long-range capable attackers (Dark Elves or Zerbreuses), and some support members (bats or the Reha Phraga). 

To be honest, I would have liked some D-ranks in our ranks, but if we wanna stay ahead of the schedule, we have to strike fast. 

"Then, we will be going." - Garami

"Sure, take care," answered Alf, who had met up with us at the entrance to send us off.

"You got enough subordinates?" - Garami

"Sure, sure. The last batch you summoned will help us greatly against anything that may try to sneak in." - Alf

"And food items?" - Garami

"The pantry is filled to the brim. No worries." - Alf

"Weapons and armors are-" - Garami

"We have stored all the stuff we got from Armveil, so you can leave and destroy those ruins with a piece of mind! Who do you think you are? My mom?" - Alf

No, I'm your General.

"...Then, We'll be leaving." - Garami

"Have a safe trip." - Alf

And with that, our group of 18 left the Dungeon and headed for the ruins in the north-east. An hour later, and we were looking down on the ruins.

"Yup, they're beasts alright." - Garami

The ruins didn't do much to hide the wolf-like shapes that we could see from up here. Nor the grotesque figures of the Gnolls patrolling through the labyrinth of broken buildings.

The Dungeon itself was surrounded by a big wall, not so different from how Tir na Nog was. The sole entrance we could see was a little farther from the dune we used as cover to spy on the ruins, so the guards at the entrance would notice us if we tried to charge our way through, even after using the cover of the dunes for as far as we could. 

And just as Mira had said, I could see the aether-flow of the ruins clearly, all of them connected to the large building in the middle of the Dungeon. It could be a trap, but from personally looking at it, I couldn't judge the Dungeon as anything but an Lv.1 Dungeon. That building is our goal. Of course, caution is a virtue.

"What's the plan then?" asked Mira, eager for action after being exposed to the desert sun for a while now.

"...We will try to take out as many guards from a distance with long-range attacks, then force our way through afterward. This allows us to find out whenever they have long-range attackers themselves, which will confirm how safe the bats can act during this raid, and it will also let me sneak inside in-between the waves of attacks." - Garami

"Why would you... oh." - Noire

"The beasts would rather like to fight inside the ruins where they have the home-field advantage, so there's a big chance they will abandon the entrance in the hope of luring us inside." - Garami

Heck, they would be stupid if they didn't go for such a strategy. 

"If they do, I'll perform some sabotage-maneuvers while the rest of you try to force yourself into the ruins. After then, we will try to defeat as many monsters as possible. The purpose here is to dry them outta manpower, not clearing the Dungeon." - Garami

"Oh, so, we're making them weaker for the next time we attack?" - Mira

"That's right. This Dungeon seems to put the number of subordinates greater than the need for traps, so defeating a large number of them in a short time will hurt them more than if we manage to enter the Dungeon." - Garami

For a Dungeon at Lv.1, their hourly CP-regeneration is 10. That's the same as a Lesser Sandstalker for me. And E-ranks such as Gnolls will prolly take more than 10 CP, especially since the Gnolls are attribute-less, so there's no discount for them. Beating one Gnoll will be the same as wasting at least two hours of the opposing Dungeon Master's time.

Of course, the Sand attributed Sandingos and Carrier Camels are a different story, but they will still be in the red if we kill one E-rank per hour. We just need to make sure we have an escape route in case something goes wrong and retry after a short break. 

After everyone was in the know, we started the operation.

I sneaked towards the entrance while using my stealth-skills to stay hidden. Most importantly, I changed the color of the robe I used to protect myself from the sun into the color of the desert sand through [Camouflage], making it even more difficult for the guards to notice me.

After arriving pretty close to the entrance, I stopped before the Dire Wolves and Sandingos would notice me if I got closer. Glad that there's a headwind. Except that the Gnoll's stench is assaulting my nose. Bleagh...

I didn't need to be exposed to the smell of the beasts for too long. Arrows rained down from behind the dunes and fell upon the entrance and the guards there. The canines got struck by arrows made of mana, each with the intent of taking the hounds' lives with a single hit. Nice work there, Noire. But 100% headshots, isn't that a little overkill? Eh, no better kills than that.

Not too long after the first rain of arrows and a group of new beasts arrived from the gate. Most of them are Gnolls, but I could also see packs of Sandingos and Dire Wolves. There are even some Greater Living Rocks, the E-ranked evolution of the Living Rocks. They're like moving boulders with animal-shapes. These look like bears, while the F-ranks looks more like smaller hippos. 

Speaking of F-ranks, I can see some D.Goblins in the rear, each holding shabby bows. If that's the best this Dungeon can provide, then their Treasure-stat must be stuck on G. Did they waste all their DP for a specialized build this early in the game? Looking at their equipment, the Gnolls are mostly using crude axes and swords, some of them even have shields. No spears or other polearms though. 

I looked at the battlefield while waiting for a good chance to sneak into the Dungeon. The Sandingos ran towards the dune where the others were firing from, but they were intercepted by Mira's phantasm swords. Each of them had a ball of lightning orbiting around them, and when there were Sandingos close to them, the balls discharged a large amount of electricity. Poor dingos. 

The Dire Wolves were tough enough to tank the discharges while also escaping the arrows and magic blasts by running around the targeted area. Then, the ground exploded underneath them in a blast of sand, and the Cave Scorpions, who had obtained and trained with the [Digging] skill, caught the wolves with their pincers. The remaining Dire Wolves had been forced into a confrontation with the Cave Scorpions, who possessed durability they couldn't penetrate, plus the scorpions had the home-field advantage known as the desert.

The Gnolls kept on marching forward, using shields and Greater Living Rocks to keep themselves alive. They did suffer damage, but their inborn toughness kept them going. That is, till they came close enough for the Zerbreuses and Ushi-Onis to start attacking them directly. 

The Ushi-Onis smashed Gnolls and Living Rocks to mush and pieces with their iron clubs, making it safe to say that creating those with CP was the right choice instead of forcing the Ushi-Onis to use the weapons that Armveil had given us.

The Zerbreuses didn't fall behind and hacked away at the Gnolls. Their swordsmanship has been enhanced thanks to Mira's training, and it sure is showing their results now. Despite not having the experience of evolving like the Ushi-Onis, they're not falling behind in the kill-count, especially when they can blast the monsters if they turn out too tough, or too many many monsters come after them at the same time.

The Dark Elves aren't any shabbier. Despite the Zerbreuses having to go to the front-lines, the elves aren't letting more enemies get closer than the front-line warriors can take care of, focusing on the faster and tricker opponents first, for then moving to the easier kills. 

Hmm, guess it's a good time now.

I slipped past the exiting monsters and got into the Dungeon. The place looks like a stone-labyrinth created with old buildings that seem to be of an old-Indian-origin. The eastern type.

After hiding in the shadows of a building, I examined the monster. No reaction... so they didn't notice me. Unless this place's Dungeon Master was a Demon Lord before building this place, then they would need an F in Knowledge to unlock the Alarm-trap. Either they're book-stupid with Knowledge at G, or they're trying to give me a false sense of security... wait, how would they know that we're from another Dungeon with the know-how about this stuff? Let's go with the first option.

Monsters kept on running out to the desert, not noticing me hiding so close to them. Either it's their orders to repel the outsiders that are hasting them too much to notice me, or my [Total Presence Concealment] is too good for them to be an opponent even.

Hmm, there's more of them than I first thought... let's give the others a hand.

I climbed up the buildings and hid so that the monsters underneath couldn't see me. Then, I used the Signal Light spell to notify the bats flying above the enemy, defeating their archers as they go, and told them that said that we're going for the invasion plan with me giving a hand from the inside.

After the bats noticed me, they flew back to where Noire and the elves are shooting to tell the message. Time for me to get dangerous!

I started by creating the largest globe of poison that [Poison Synthesis] could generate while the Parallel Minds worked on three undead-creation circles. The effect of the Alchemist class is showing here. The circles work perfectly without the need for extra materials to increase the undead's stats to their highest values. Of course, I've been training and studying like crazy to make them this stable, even if I didn't gain as much proficiency as when I simply spammed them.

Before the undead was complete, I dropped the large globe of poison in the passage that led to the Dungeon entrance. All the beasts down there got a serious case of poisoning, the weaker ones like the Goblins died instantly. Having a poison-dedicated title and Element sure cranks the effect up. And for some reason, the effects of the Ailment-attacks and [Aura of Darkness] can also be added to it.

The Gnolls tried to climb up the buildings, but I used threads as whips and knocked them down. The few surviving Goblins tried to use their bows at me, but I parried the arrows with Carnwennan. 

Then, the undead was finished. A total of 2,400 Materials were used for each, 1,400 being the original cost, and 1,000 was added after that due to the special costs needed for these types of undead.

The beasts looked on in despair as three Skeleton Dragons appeared from the magic circles on the roof, looming above them. Poisoned grounds, undead monsters above them, and enemies forcing themselves through the front gates...

Yeah, hope you guys will have it better in your next lives. ATTACK!!

Kigal-Note/Monsters/Demi-Monsters: Gnoll

Name: Gnoll
Rank: E
Type: Demi-Monster
Lifespan: 80 Years
Attribute: none
Traits: Demi-Monster, Beast

Description:

Gnolls are a humanoid-looking race of demi-monsters that have an appearance close to hyenas. They are a carnivorous race that acts like barbarians but stay clear of humanoid races and cities due to the fear of being subjugated by the large number the humanoids have.

Appearance:

Gnolls look like a crossbreed of a hyena and a human, having a bulky body covered in dirty-grey fur and the head of a hyena. They have human hands, but they're not as nimble as a human's. In exchange, the Gnolls have talons that don't get in the way when they are using weapons, but they can still be used as weapons themselves.

Abilities:

Average HP: E+ Average MP: G+ Average SP: E+
Average STR: E Average VIT: E+ Average MAG: G+
Average RES: F+ Average SPD: F+ Average DEX: F
Average INT: D+ Rarity: E+ Danger Rank: E+~D+

Gnolls are capable of using weapons and techniques similar to humans, even if their methods are crude. They work best in packs, but they stay clear of other packs, even single individuals who have gotten themselves lost, in the fear of being retaliated by the relatives of their potential prey.

While they do have this inborn wisdom, Gnolls are creatures without much intelligence, which makes them easy to make them fall into traps. They also lack special abilities outside their toughness that exceeds most monsters of their ranks.

Mira's comment: Come're, doggies~.

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