Dustin touched the skin on his face as he looked at the mirror in his bathroom. He had bought a mask for 'day of the dead', and also an item from the Dos Shop.
Apply the look of an item to the body directly.
The mask was transferred directly onto his skin, changing his facial structure to match that of the mask and coloring his skin in the black and white designs. This way, it couldn't fall off in the heat of battle, and his vastly different facial structure whilst wearing it was a great disguise.
After selling the goods he retrieved from the dungeon, he had made about 1500 Dos, leaving him 900 to spend on some armour.
He had the armguards, which were useful for their ability. But what he needed was something to both protect him, and cover his features, making it harder to distinguish who he was.
He manage to find a simple black cloak that hung loosely around his elbows, allowing better movement of his hands. It also had a hood that he could pull over his head, and didn't trip up his feet.
[Lithe Black Cloak]
1.0 - 3.0% Physical Mitigation. 5.0 - 7.0% Spell Mitigation.
A black cloak that clings to the body, but allows ease of movement. Made from a fine silk.
Lithe: Does not restrict movement, feels light, and adds no weight.
Lithe wasn't a well defined combat bonus, it was just a quality of life addition to the cloak.
Dustin also purchased an amulet that hung around his neck, it stole his remaining Dos and left his account in pitiful double digits.
[Silver Amulet of Nature]
4.0 - 8.0% Elemental Mitigation
An amulet made from silver, finely twisted loops are made in the shape of roots, leading to the amulet that mirrors the sun.
Nature: +5% to all Elemental resistance.
When it came to defenses, resistance was king.
Resistance reduced the amount of damage an incoming attack or spell would do by a percentage amount. 5% fire resistance would reduce a 100 damage fireball, by 5 damage.
Mitigation was essentially dodging. The percent chance was both the chance to dodge the incoming damage, and the amount of damage dodged if it was successful.
15% physical mitigation has a 15% chance to mitigate 15% of the incoming physical damage. In most cases, resistance was a superior option, as it was a reliable defense against incoming damage.
Mitigation was an afterthought for all but the hardcore nutcases that worshiped it. Mitigation technically had no cap, but Dustin had never seen anyone with higher than 60% mitigation of any type.
There were other methods of defending against damage. Resistance was usually the first layer of defense, and shields backed them up.
Mana shield was essentially an extra health bar, it absorbed damage until it broke, and would then take time to recover, either through spells, potions, or just time.
For some, like those who used actual shields, Block was also a popular option. Block was a secondary resistance against damage, reducing the damage taken by a flat amount. It's counterpart was phase, allowing the pioneer to 'phase' through spells or attacks as they harmlessly passed through them.
This was either acquired through abilities, potions, or on certain gear.
Dustin had many layers of defense before his death, but sometimes abilities or attacks were too much to handle. For now, the amulet provided a small amount of resistance, and some mitigation. It wasn't some kind of absolute fail safe, just something to put his mind at ease.
He felt a bit edgy looking at himself in the mirror. It was every kids fantasy to look like the grim reaper. All he needed was a blade sticking out the side of his staff to complete the look!
Still, it was better to be known by his disguise than his actual identity. Ben had contacted Dustin earlier after he felt better, and the two talked more.
'I don't really remember what happened yesterday, but I trust you to help me out.'
His girlfriend was frantically worrying, and Ben had told her he was talking to someone who might be able to help in an attempt to calm her down.
Dustin had to endure his persistent begging for help, and begun the reconnaissance on the investigative journalist. Rather than the straight up approach of trying to meet her like he had with James, he just decided to monitor her discreetly.
The difficult part was remaining unnoticed. She was an investigative journalist, someone who was used to tailing and investigating others. It was hard to do the same without alerting them.
If she did notice him, the paths she took and places she entered would probably change. He got used to the small markets she crossed through, using it as a point of reference.
Her daily routine took her through the markets every day, without fail. Dustin would be there at the times that she passed through, making sure that he marked down any differing times.
He had followed her entire route the first couple of days, making sure he knew where she went. The fourth night of him walking around the markets he couldn't see her.anywhere, even when the stalls began to pack up for the night.
He set a brisk walking pace as he followed her usual steps, having to take detours for areas that were closed. Thankfully the dungeon entrances were not always small, so when Dustin walked past a small barbershop and felt the world fall away, he wasn't panicked, but relieved.
As the world loaded around him, Dustin changed his casual clothing for the black cloak, and put on the mask, letting it sink into his skin until only paint remained.
[Welcome to the City of the Dead dungeon, uploading current information to mini map.]
Dustin couldn't help but chuckle at the irony. He was wearing his day of the dead mask, and the first dungeon he entered was full of the undead.
Apparently something hadn't found it funny, as he noticed a creature out of the corner of his eye scurry away.
A quick look around confirmed that the dungeon was a bunch of ruins, which filled Dustin with hope. It was easier to hide and survive in urban areas, considering the different heights, and thick walls.
The undead that would inhabit the city were also of less concern than regular monstrous creatures. They had basically zero intelligence, their own instinct was to move forward, groan, and attack anything living.
If one stayed out of their sight, and kept quiet, they were likely to go unnoticed.
Despite that, Dustin could see at least one person had died near to the spawn, all that was left of their body was degraded corpse, and some flowers. Dustin took out his metal staff and pulled his hood up, slinking into the shadows of the dark city as he began his hunt for the living. Even if Dustin tried to take it seriously, he was giddy the whole time.
The ruins were not dissimilar from previous towns on earth, but little differences here and laid the tiny inkling in one's mind that this was perhaps not of earth.
It was obviously a dungeon, but the terrain had been based on a town not from earth. It was a similarly humanoid race as the first zombie Dustin came across was vaguely the same shape.
The main difference was the elongated nature of its limbs and neck, as well as the facial structure. It had no nose, which was creepy to say the least, and its ears were like rectangles that shot out from the side of its head.
Dustin would have honestly preferred human zombies over whatever race these were, but at least he didn't have to feel guilty about killing them.
Besides the zombies were skeletons, which showed the longer bone structure that this race had, some other undead animals, and some peculiar undead abominations.
The abominations were things created as undead, where they had never lived in the first place. One of them was called a Junker, and it had metal parts embedded into its rotting skin. One of its hands had been replaced with a hammer, which was practically just an anvil on a handle.
Even worse than that was a Sinker, which had fish hooks dug into his skin, pulling it away from its stomach where a long tentacle was coiled up. The tentacle could extend up to four arms length, and pull victims towards it. The fish hooks would be used to pin the victim to the Sinker, where it would slowly devour it.
Dustin absolutely loathed the things, and had no quarrels with silently smashing their heads in. After the Sinker was dead, he still had to kill the seafood that had taken residence in its stomach by cutting it out.
The tentacles were like an undead parasite, able to give unlife to corpses. If he left the Sinker there with an intact tentacle, it would probably just get up again later. The thing smelt like rotting fish and was covered in a film of slimy mucus.
Dustin didn't bother with collecting any of the undead parts as they were notoriously bad to sell. The shop didn't want them, as they were clearly rotten, and other pioneers didn't want to handle them.
The closer Dustin go to the center of the ruins, the larger and larger the dungeon seemed to get. It easily doubled the size of the Goblin Forest, and he had to cover the distance faster to try and find David, or any of the others for that matter.
With so many humanoid undead roaming around, it was almost impossible to differentiate between the monsters, and living humans. The tracks that indicated where the people trapped inside had ran off to were quickly smothered by the stampeding horde of undead that would have followed them.
He had no other choice but to try and run into them. Eventually he reached the other side of the dungeon, marking it on his minimap. From one side of the ruins to the other took about forty minutes to walk, a sizeable dungeon. Considering it was all fit inside a small barbershop, one could say it was impressive.
Dustin split the dungeon into two halves, clearing one side first to create a safe space. He took the side that was closest to the spawn point, as Sarah would not have gone too far in the time span since she disappeared.
Dustin was busy crushing the heads of zombies under his staff when he heard a commotion a couple of streets over, followed by a scream. If Dustin heard it, so did plenty of other undead. He finished off the remaining zombies in quick succession and ran through the alleyways to where the scream had come from.
Lo and behold, Sarah was holding a long piece of broken stone in front of her, waving it at the zombies menacingly. They had no ability to interpret the action and tried attacking her.
Dustin had to give her credit, at least she was able to hit them. Behind Sarah was an older woman who had fallen back onto her butt, one hand holding her ankle as she rocked back and forth. Using the distraction, Dustin came up behind the crowding undead and took them out with solid blows to the back of the head. The brain was responsible for making the zombies move, but breaking the point of contact between the brain and the rest of their bodies was enough damage to count as killing them.
The sounds of spinal cords snapping or cracking was already horrifying enough without the squelching sound the zombies made when they hit the ground. Sarah was trying to get the old lady up on her feet. Dustin knew he needed to draw attention away from them, so he decided to make the loudest possible noise he could.
It turned out zombies quite unliked the clap of thunder, and reared back to charge at Dustin instead. The zombie he had struck with lightning fell forward, its head still smoldering.
Sarah nearly fell on top of the old lady at the deafening sound, and looked back at the cloaked man leading the undead away. She pulled the old granny to her feet, getting them down the road and back towards the little hole those who had been stuck here had made.
A tall black man was waiting nervously out the front and ran to help Sarah when she approached.
"What the hell was that, it sounded like thunder." He said, his voice wavering. The loud noise was sure to have roused a great number of undead, it was only a matter of time before they were swarming over there. Sarah had to wait a couple of minutes before her ears stopped ringing, and the man repeated his question.
"There was a guy in a cloak, I don't know what he did but the loud noise got the freaks off us, they ran straight for him."
The man nodded and carried the old lady inside, where the rest of the survivors were hiding.
Aside from Sarah, Jordy, and the old lady June, there were seven others. One of them, a young fourteen year old boy, was terrified, and sat in the corner refusing to move. They had tried to get him to talk, or even move from his position, but had only gotten his name. David.
Sarah and Jordy closed the door behind them by blocking it with a thick stone, pushing the room into darkness. They huddled close together on the floor and waited, silently at first, until the first footsteps and moans rolled past.
They couldn't count the number of monsters shambling past their hideout, heading straight for the source of the noise. Sarah held her breath until she could no longer, gasping into her cardigan.
The footsteps finally faded away until a haunting silence took over, a cool breeze flowed around the edges of the stone, sending a chill down Sarah's spine.
Meanwhile Dustin was having a blast running along the rooftops. He used his throwing knives to pick off the slower zombies that were further away from the packs, so he was able to retrieve them afterwards.
If the undead had any emotions, they would surely be filled with rage as Dustin played with them. He had managed to round up quite the audience with his lightning show, giving him a nice range of targets.
He was kicking himself for not investing in some kind of multi-target ability. The flame burst skill would have worked wonders in such a densely packed mob.
Alas, he had to make do with what he had, zapping the hungry crowd that was screeching at his feet every so often. He was sitting on top of one of the buildings, dangling his feet over the edge like bait.
Whenever something other than a zombie or skeleton approached, especially sinkers, he would prioritize them for the Storm Bolts.
He had already managed to level it up three times from the usage, at the cost of two meditation teas. The damage of each bolt increased with level, and the mana cost was lowered. Higher level skills were needed as time went on, and also provided benefits in other ways.
Despite the great source of skill levels, he did not want to be there all week, he needed a more efficient way to kill them. The undead were bunched up like a pack of sardines, jumping in tune to try and grab his feet.
If he had a bunch of water he might be able to cover them in it, and zap the whole lot of them with a couple of Storm Bolts. He had a seen a water tower in the ruins, but it was probably empty. It was too slow to continue bashing individual heads, Dustin could feel the burn from losing the flame burst skill book.
At the back of the baying crowd was an undead that towered over the others. Instead of rushing towards him mindlessly, it sat at the back and stared with lifeless eyes. Dustin waved at it, and it waved back.
"Tch. Mimics." Dustin spat, standing up from his safe perch. The lifeless undead was known as a mimic, able to change its shape and form to hide among groups. This mimic had chosen to copy one of the undead and was watching his movements.
The stronger a mimic was, the better its disguise. The one facing Dustin stuck out like a sore thumb, meaning it was low level.
Still, a mimic in a dungeon full of undead was probably bound to stir up some parties. Dustin suspected it had something to do with the dungeons boss, or secret. Dungeons generally kept to a theme, something like mimics roaming around in the 'City of the Dead', was special.
Dustin sent a Storm Bolt at the mimic to test the waters, hitting it square in the chest. It let out an inhuman squeal and crawled away, pushing zombies and skeletons out of the way. Dustin chuckled and walked away from his crazed fans.
He had already accomplished the original goal of drawing the undead away from whoever managed to survive inside the dungeon, all that was left was to get away from the masses and resume picking off the stragglers.
When the living target disappeared, the monsters dispersed as if he had never been there, returning to their regular routes. Their low intelligence had no place for memory.
The mimic was the only one to remember, seething with rage as it hid inside a building, holding the burnt and rotting skin on its chest. There were other things hiding, things that hadn't hurt it. But if one thing could hurt it, then so could any thing.
The mimic slinked away, keeping to the ruined alleyways and cover of the destroyed buildings to search for the other things, whilst avoiding the 'loud thing'.
On the other side of the dungeon, Dustin was growing more frustrated at the absurd number of undead. Zombies and skeletons were stupid and slow, but the bulk of them was giving him trouble. His arms were already tired from swinging the staff, and his mana couldn't sustain too many Storm Bolts.
This was clearly a dungeon focused on attacks and spells that affected multiple targets at once. Running around and shooting a lightning bolt, or smashing a head in with a metal staff, was completely, and utterly, ineffective.
Not to mention wasteful. Dustin had already used two of the uses on his repair kit to keep the staff from breaking on him.
He had grown numb to the smell of rotting flesh, and cared little for watching their brains explode under his attacks, but he couldn't stop himself from growing tired.
He was sluggishly destroying a skeleton when a huge Sinker came into view around the corner. He could instantly tell it was the boss as it was the only undead guarded by others, and paid him no heed. He wasn't in range of the boss, so it couldn't detect him yet.
Dustin wanted to rest a bit, and then kill it, but knew that it would put the others in danger. The exit portal was created on top of the dead boss, and would send a message to all the current pioneers inside the dungeon.
If the others read the message, they would probably run around trying to find it. Dustin didn't need that. Since he was yet to run into them, they were probably hiding, and well at that. Finding them, and guiding them to the portal was a better option, but would be a whole other problem.