Dustin looked around at the empty grasslands to the west that they had been placed in. He could see nothing among the green fields, meaning that the forest was their destination.
He didn't want to seem suspicious and acted as if he was confused as well, touching the screen randomly to see if it did anything.
Sam looked around at the students and tried to calm them down. A couple of them pulled out their phones and dialed for help, but ended in frustration as there was no signal.
Unfortunately with the shop unavailable, Dustin couldn't access any information about the dungeon either. Usually there was an accompanying mini-map that would give an idea to the terrain around them, filling in new areas as they moved around.
A dungeon like this was likely to possess weak monsters with low intelligence. Mutated animals were usually par for the course, or some weaker monsters like slimes and kobolds.
As the group talked, it became increasingly obvious that they were completely lost, weren't going to be returned to the classroom, and couldn't decide on a path of action.
One of the students walked further out into the grassy plains, but realized quickly that no matter how far he walked, the distance from the forest remained the same.
To onlookers, he was walking on the spot like he was stuck on a treadmill.
Some of the students were freaked out by it and refused to move until someone came to collect them. Dustin tried suggesting they move a bit into the forest as it would give them some cover if it started raining.
It seemed like a good idea, but nobody wanted to go into the forest first. He sighed and opened the bag, surprising the group when he took out his leather armour.
When he finished dressing up and tied the sword around his waist, he looked like a mercenary from the olden times. He wasn't sure if the students were more worried that he put the armour on, or were relieved by it.
The monsters in the dungeon would be attracted to the group fairly quickly, making it a priority that they find the boss and kill it fast. It was possible to hide from the dungeons monsters, but it was a battle of attrition of which the dungeon would always win.
They were trapped inside until they defeated whatever ruled the forest.
As much as Dustin wanted to rush in and do so, he needed the group to either stay somewhere safe, or follow him carefully.
He made a show of entering the forest slowly, and pushed aside the brush with his sheathed sword.
It didn't take long to come across the first monster. A rabbit had its back to Dustin, busy feasting on something in front of it. Upon closer inspection, he realized that the rabbit was eating a squirrel.
His footsteps drew its attention, and it swiveled around, revealing the matted, blood-soaked fur. It had sharp teeth that jutted out as it hissed, charging towards him.
He pulled the sheath off of his sword and held it out in front of him. When the rabbit was close enough to attack he swiped at it with the sword, but quickly realized that without the system, or the aid of skills, it wasn't possible for him to hit something moving so fast without practice. He had been fighting with the system for so long that losing it was like losing a limb. The year of sword fighting had let him regain some of the previous skill, but it wasn't enough to compete with an agility reliant monster.
His sword sunk into the ground beside it, barely missing the white ball that went straight for his leg, latching onto it and sinking its teeth into the leather.
He tried to shake it off his leg, but it had gripped on too tightly, continually biting deeper to try and get past the leather.
Turning around, Dustin ran over to a nearby tree and kicked it, smashing the rabbit against the bark.
After a couple of the kicks the rabbit fell off, stunned momentarily, just long enough for Dustin to skewer it on the end of his sword.
He felt a small amount of power filling him, the telltale signs of gaining experience. He couldn't check how much it was as the sudden dungeon stopped him from getting past the initial welcome. He withdrew his sword from the rabbit and picked it up, returning to the rest of the class.
He heard some gasps as he emerged, holding the bloodied rabbit. Sam recoiled at the sight as he brought it towards her, placing it on the ground and kneeling beside it.
"It jumped me, tried to bite my leg."
Dustin held its mouth open, showing the sharp teeth to Sam who couldn't help but look closer, her eyes widened.
"I don't think it's a normal rabbit. It's way too big, and it was eating a squirrel when I came across it."
Sam paled as she looked at it, nudging it with her foot. It was certainly much larger than a regular rabbit, not to mention carnivorous.
"It definitely isn't the only thing out there," He said, looking back towards the forest. The students who could hold their stomach in came closer to the rabbit, checking out its sharp teeth.
Sam worriedly bit her lip and looked up at the other students. They were looking to her and Dustin for answers, and she didn't have any.
She looked towards Dustin, noticing the blood on the end of his sword. She couldn't advocate senseless killing of animals, but it was technically self defense. Dustin stood up and wiped the blood off his blade with a special rag from his bag.
"There doesn't seem to be the same problem trying to move through the forest as their was heading out in the open. I suggest we head in."
Some of the students heads shook violently, refusing to go where such a thing had come from. Dustin sighed in frustration and started walking towards the forest, but was stopped as Sam grabbed him by the arm.
"Is that really such a good idea?"
"No, but do we have another choice? We have no idea where we are, and it doesn't seem like a normal forest, at least like nowhere I've ever been." Dustin turned to speak to the rest of the group as he continued.
"We're stopped from going out into the field, but there's no such boundary leading into the forest, as if we're supposed to move that way."
The group took into account his advice and looked into the mess of trees and thick brush. It wasn't an appealing decision to go looking for trouble.
"I'm happy to go in on my own, see if there's anything around. But I'm also the best case for defending the group, I think moving together would be safer."
Sam huddled the students close together and voiced her concerns, ultimately agreeing with Dustin's plan. There were a couple of concerns that rose up, but were quickly squashed as another rabbit charged Dustin from the forest.
Rather than striking at it first, Dustin kicked it to the side, using his boot to hold it down before stabbing it. One of the students hunched over and vomited at the sight, almost getting on the others shoes.
Dustin turned away to keep an eye for anything else that decided to suicide against him. Fortunately Sam gathered the students up and agreed on his plan to leave, letting him go first. Before he ventured forth, he pulled out a backup short sword he kept and gave it to Sam.
"I don't want to ask you of this, but it's going to be hard for me to get to the back quickly if something happens."
She reluctantly accepted the sword and waited at the back, giving him a thumbs up when they were ready. She held the blade straight down, to avoid accidentally cutting anything. She was a surprised that Dustin had brought in not props, but actual, sharpened, swords.
If it weren't for the carnivorous rabbits and armoured Dustin, the group would have looked like a regular tour group going through a forest.
He made sure to push through slowly, cutting down anything that got in his way to clear a path.
The tension in the group rose with each new rabbit that appeared, charging directly for Dustin. A gap slowly grew between him and the girl directly behind him as she avoided being near him, the stench of blood slowly growing as it stained the leather.
After twenty minutes of exploration and killing, they came across a vague trail path, leading towards the center of the forest.
Dustin instinctively followed it, already knowing that it would take them out of the dungeon.
'All roads lead to the boss' was a popular saying, as it struck true for 80% of layouts, with only a few following different layouts.
Some lead to traps, others to secrets. But for Dustin to get the students out as quick as possible, it was best to be optimistic about 80%, rather than pessimistic in the lower end.
As the path traveled across a river and grew denser, it was increasingly obvious that they were heading to the boss.
It had been a bumpy ride up until that point, only one student had been injured as they fell into the river and sprained their ankle.
They were currently taking turns piggybacking on other students and complaining about the pain. Movement forward slowed however as Dustin could feel himself growing tired, his blade covered in blood as the rag he brought to clean it was already soaked. He had started to wipe the blood off on the bodies of the rabbits, but the appearance of a new enemy drew his attention.
It appeared as they were climbing over a fallen tree, rushing one of the students and biting her arm. Dustin turned as she screamed, trying to get the oversize spider off of her. The students around her dashed away, leaving her with the furry black arachnid.
Sam was too scared to approach, her sword shaking in hand. Dustin had jump back over the log and tried to get the girl to stand still, but she couldn't hear him over her own screaming and flailing. Dustin had to kneel over her, trapping her legs beneath his as he used one hand to hold her still, and the other to twist the spiders legs.
When it withdrew its fangs from her arm and hissed at him he pulled it off, throwing it to the ground. The students closest scrambled away as it skittered towards him.
He elbowed it out of the air as it jumped forward, and slid his other leg over the girl to stomp it into the ground.
Its body was hard enough to avoid being squished and its legs wiggled. He pressed the tip of his blade against the bottom of its head and pressed down hard, feeling the final crunch that indicated he had pushed all the way through. He kept the sword there until it stopped moving.
The girl who had been bitten was still hysterically screaming, holding her arm to her chest whilst she rocked back and forth. Dustin had to pry it away from her to look at the wound, noticing liquid oozing from the holes the fangs left.
"She's going to need medical aid."
Sam knelt down beside Dustin and tried to calm her, patting her back and whispering calmly.
Like normal spider bites, those that were venomous could be treated by the right type of anti-venom, and bites acquired from spiders in dungeons, and giant ones at that, needed dungeon created anti-venom.
The giant spiders corpse was laying there on the ground, but Dustin had no confidence in making an anti-venom without the systems help.
If they could get back in time, they could purchase a generic anti-venom from the shop to treat it, but it wasn't likely that anyone even knew that it was possible.
Dustin looked between Sam and the girl, contemplating her survival rate.
"We need to keep going, staying here isn't going to do anything. The trails starting to widen a bit, so we might find some kind of intersection, hopefully with signs."
Sam coaxed the traumatized student to stand up, and had some others help her walk as they continued up the trail at an increased pace. Whilst there was indeed something at the end of the trail, it wasn't anything human.
A small village blocked the trail from continuing, the buildings and palisade about half the size of an adult.
Dustin already knew what it was, hefting the sword in his hands. Goblins.
An odd collection of animal bones and plants was wound around a post just out front, signifying the ownership of the village.
The boss of the dungeon was likely inside, the owner of the village. From what Dustin could garner from the effigy, it was probably a shaman, or another form of evolved goblin that controlled them.
Luckily for him, their didn't seem to be any goblins patrolling, thus nothing in the village had seen them yet…
Dustin flinched as the students erupted in cheers at the sight of the rickety wooden fence, wanting to rush past him to reach it.
A green head popped out from the entrance and stared at them, stopping them from getting close.
"What the fuck is that?"
The goblin looked at the student that asked and screeched, pulling out a rusty knife from its belt. It charged the group of stunned students, but was met by the sharp end of a sword as Dustin stepped forward, slicing through the goblins arm and across its throat.
The green monsters fell forward with one hand clutching its throat, dropping the knife as blood seeped into the dirt.
"Don't just stand there!" Dustin roared, pushing them aside as a crude arrow flew past, flailing in the wind as it lost its velocity, clattering against the ground behind them.
Dustin groaned, realizing that the advanced goblin they had rolled up on was an archer.
Sam came up from the back of the group as Dustin ducked down behind the village gates, dodging another arrow that flew above his head. A group of goblins were running from the archers position towards them, each carrying some small weapon like the first goblin had.
Dustin peaked around the corner, spotting the red-cap wearing goblin that held a flimsy wooden bow in its hands.
"Everybody grab some rocks, I need you to throw them at the guy using the bow when I say so."
Dustin didn't have time to explain as he told the students what to do, waiting until the goblins were close enough before he went out into the open.
The students were too stunned from the sudden attack to do anything, and only watched in terror when Dustin jumped out, stopping the three goblins from getting any closer.
Another arrow flew towards him, just missing him as he ducked under it.
The first goblin acted the same as its dead comrade had, and simply charged him with a knife.
Dustin was more worried about the other two as one held a pointy stick that had a much larger range than the knife. The last one was holding a tangled net that it dragged along in the dirt.
He decided to take out the one with the spear first, slicing it diagonally from shoulder to waist. The goblin with the net took that time to throw its net at him, landing on his outstretched arm.
The goblins were small, but deceptively strong, and it managed to put him off balance as it pulled on the net that had stuck to him.
He barely managed to kick the goblin with the knife away as he fell towards the net goblin. He could see out the corner of his eye the archer ready to fire another arrow, and braced himself as it caught him in the shoulder.
It was after it fired that a rock fell next to the goblin, thrown by Sam.
He cursed the group for not acting sooner, and used the pommel of his sword to strike the goblin in its chin.
The goblin with the knife recovered from its kick and ran forward, not towards Dustin, but behind him where the students were gathered.
Sam waved the sword around in front of her randomly, trying to scare off the goblin. Dustin managed to finish off the net goblin and tear the sticky rope from his arm, but had to sprint towards the archer before he could fire anymore arrows.
Sam was left to defend the group, backing up as the goblin approached, holding the knife above its head. Her dirty blonde ponytail shook side to side as she pleaded for Dustin to come back.
Her survival response kicked in, fortunately choosing to fight instead of flight as she swiped at the goblin, cutting it shallowly across the face. It wasn't enough to stop the goblin from charging, but thankfully one of the students snapped out of his state of terror long enough to kick the goblin aside.
The goblin tumbled to the ground and shook its head, snarling at them as it committed to the same strategy.
Rather than a random swipe, Sam held the sword in a position to slice the goblin with force, aiming to kill it.
When it was close enough to she put effort into the swing, managing to cut into the goblins outstretched arm that held the knife.
Unfortunately for her, the force of the swing pushed her off balance, sending her towards the goblin that attempted to bite her face.
Before it could sink its teeth into her, she felt a spray of blood lightly tinge her face instead, an arrow sunk straight into the back of the goblins head, the arrow head piercing it as it stuck out from its right eye.
She couldn't take her eyes away from the goblin as her breath caught in her throat. Dustin sighed in relief as he threw down the dead archers bow, quickly running over to the group. He shook Sam until she looked up at him.
"Breathe. You need to breathe." He said, repeating himself until she realized she had stopped, and finally gasped for breath. Her black rimmed glasses had fallen into the dirt and were covered in a fine layer of goblin blood.
She scrambled to pick them up, like they would offer her a sense of security, but whimpered when her finger slid across the blood covering them.
Dustin sat back on his haunches and looked at the dead goblins. Five of them wasn't enough to constitute a village, meaning that there were others out in the forest somewhere.
[Congratulations for clearing Goblin Forest. The portal to return is now open, rewards will be distributed shortly. Thank you, and happy spending!]
The message appeared before them all as the air above the dead goblin archers body turned blue, simmering like a dry heat. Dustin gestured to the 'portal' and told one of the students to help Sam over there.
A screech drew his attention away from the two injured students as more goblins appeared on the trail they had taken, angry at their return to the conquered village.
"Grab the two injured, quick!" Dustin commanded, standing between them and the green monsters. The students were no longer frozen as they hurriedly picked up the injured students and ran towards the portal, calling for Dustin to come.
He pretended not to notice the fact that there was plenty of time for him to escape with everyone else before the goblins got to close and backed up slowly, waiting until everyone had disappeared.
The tension flooded from his body when they had left, letting him stand up a little taller and crack his neck.
He looked at the arrow still stuck into his shoulder and sighed in frustration, he couldn't appear to the students like he could handle everything easily, or it would draw attention to him.
Luckily for him, time was slightly sped up in the dungeon, giving him a solid cover to finish off the dungeon and collect the loot, as he would leave the dungeon shortly after the others emerged.
Using his foot, he kicked up the bow that he had thrown to the ground earlier and knocked an arrow, letting it fly into the first goblins chest. Dustin's archery skills were thanks to his lack of offensive spells in the past. When nothing needed healing, and his buffs were on cooldown, he would whip out a bow to deal some light damage. There were strong fletchers needed to fund the arrows for specialized archers, so using those was guaranteed to deal some damage, even if the pioneer using them was not geared towards archery. Certain archery skills did high damage, but had long cooldowns, and didn't burn a whole in the Dos pocket.
A second arrow took out another goblin, reducing the number of approaching enemies to two. They were too close to bother drawing again, so Dustin threw the bow at them, causing confusion as they tried to dodge it, falling right into the true threat.
The first goblin lost his head from Dustin's quick cut, which he followed up by putting his sword through the other goblins neck.
One of its hands weakly clawed at the blade sunk through its windpipe before it slid off the end, falling into the bloody dirt.
Dustin used the goblins rags to clean the blood off of his sword and began collecting the loot from the corpses and the village.
Although he couldn't access the inventory directly yet, he could still select an option to deposit the remaining loot into his inventory, though losing a percentage of the profit, and keeping his sword and armour on his person.
He hoped to find an anti-venom or similar antidote to remove the venom from the student the spider had bitten, but had no such luck.
The shop definitely had the anti-venom he needed, but would cost him Dos to buy.
He had some time to finish off the remaining goblins in the dungeon. Buying the anti-venom would be a good enough excuse to be late, saying he had looked around and 'found it'.
It was now a toss up between staying in the village, and waiting for goblins to return, or to go hunting.
He might find more goblins if he waited, which were worth more Dos than the random monsters littered throughout the forest, but he wanted to look for secrets.
Finding a secret would more than make up for the missed chance at killing more goblins. Dustin took one step outside the village before realizing he had forgotten about arrow in his shoulder that was aching from movement.
For penetrating wounds, it was better to leave the object in and apply a bandage around it, to prevent it from bleeding once it was taken out.
Dustin ignored the fact and tore it out, wincing at the pain. He applied some herbs taken off the goblins onto the wound and wrapped a rag around it, keeping them in place.
Thankfully, the system automatically recovered wounds and health outside of combat, with the exception of ailments, such as venom, poison, or burning.
The herbs helped to stop the bleeding and accelerate his recovery, which made a noticeable difference very quick. He traversed the forest, following one of the other trails to pick off unsuspecting goblins, and hoping that it led towards something good.
The goblins seemed to travel in groups of up to four, and never less than two. Dustin took out one or two of the goblins with the bow when they were unaware of his location, and killed the rest with his sword.
The experience gained would definitely push him up a level, and potentially a second. If he reached level three off the first dungeon, he might be able to buy a spell, which would carry him rapidly through other low tier dungeons due to its non reliance on equipment or stats to kill weaker creatures. Since he wasn't going into the dungeons with a party, he needed every advantage he could get.
The trail he was taking winded through to the opposite side of the forest they had appeared in, terminating at the entrance of a cave.
Inside were more goblins, protecting something they had thrown into a cage. The closer he got, the bigger the feeling of dread grew in him.
After killing the last goblin that had thrown itself at him, he picked up one of the fallen torches and looked inside the cage, peering at the creature that looked up at him within.
There were no female goblins, so males had to reproduce with members of other races. The creature in the cage was none other than a female, belonging to a race of arthropods that vaguely resembled praying mantises. When he looked down at its belly, it was easy to tell what kind of fate had met the poor creature.
Humans were not the only races to enter dungeons, the Torians would have done the same to grow in power and Dos, eventually invading Earth through them. The creature was probably part of a group that entered, whether on purpose, or accidentally, and had failed. Being a female, she was captured for breeding, and kept alive in a cage.
Since their race had failed to conquer the dungeon, it was given to another race to accomplish, being, that being the humans.
Sometimes, the dungeons secrets involved members of other races, as neither could leave the dungeon until all opposing enemies had been eliminated.
As he tapped on the metal bars and knelt down so it was eye level, she spoke to him, in a language not from earth, and pointed at his sword.
He took a minute to translate the words in his head, and nodded slowly, opening the cage so he could step inside.