Chapter 60 – Hammer Time
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The next day, James checked all his equipment, and then used his keyword to enter the dungeon.

“Commence exploration. Fuck.”

The first thing James noticed when he stepped on the 3rd floor was that the corridors were larger than usual. They were wider, and tall enough so that James couldn’t touch the ceiling anymore, even if he tried to jump and reach for it.

“Hmm, maybe it’s because the skeletons should be the size of humans? They’d be bigger than goblins and imps. Does the size of the dungeon vary with the size of the monsters in the dungeon?”

It was an interesting idea, but it was mere speculation, and wouldn’t really change much. James started walking down the corridor. As far as he could see, the traps were pretty much the same - the really obvious pitfalls and clearly visible tripwires. Just in case, though, James still tread with caution, using the butt end of his spear to check the floor in front of him.

In his other hand, James carried not his usual knife, but his recently acquired hammer. James felt kind of dumb carrying it around, but he knew that other weapons wouldn’t be able to do more than scratch the bones of the skeletons.

All of a sudden, James stopped.

“I feel something weird up ahead.”

James’ ability to detect mana had improved, and he’d gotten used to the feel of the mana from the imps and goblins. He could determine the rough number of enemies on the 1st and 2nd floors. However, the mana he was detecting now was unlike anything he had sensed before. It gave James an uncomfortable feeling.

He waited for a moment, but the sources of the mana didn’t move. It seemed like he hadn’t been detected. In front of him, the dungeon corridor took a sharp turn to the left. The source of the mana was behind that bend. James carefully moved a step forward, but then paused for a moment. After a moment of deliberation, he quickly used his spear and swept it all over the surface before him, to make sure that the floor had no traps. 

In doing so, he made noise. However, he needed to make sure that there were no traps around. If he accidentally triggered something while fighting, it would be over for him. James judged that it would be hard for him to check for traps without making noise in the first place. So, it would be a better idea to quickly scour the area, even if it meant giving away his position. Then, he could prepare to fight the skeletons. Otherwise, he ran the risk of being discovered in the middle of checking for the traps.

Besides, from what James could tell, the skeletons were a good distance away from the bend. He wouldn’t be able to launch a surprise attack anyways, since his throwing knives wouldn’t do anything.

James didn’t find any traps in the surrounding area, so he put away his spear, raised his hammer, and waited for the skeletons to charge at him. 

However, nothing came out of the corridor and attempted to put him into an eternal slumber. James concentrated, and discovered that the mana presence didn’t move at all.

He started moving forwards again. To his surprise, he made it all the way over to the bend without being obstructed. He leaned forward and peeked around the corner.

“Wow, that’s kind of creepy,” he thought to himself.

3 skeletons stood in a line, motionless. At first glance, they looked like the models that stood proud in James’ biology classroom, but with a rougher bone texture, instead of the smooth texture that was a result of the plastic used to create fake skeletons.

“They’re just standing there, though. They didn’t seem to respond to my tapping on the floor.”

Upon a closer inspection, James saw that the skeletons weren’t armed. They didn’t have long claws like the imps either, only bony fingers. This relieved James to a certain extent. Getting hit by solid bone would definitely hurt, but at least he wouldn’t be sliced open.

James knocked on the wall with his hand, rather loudly. Any human with functioning hearing would’ve been able to hear the sound. If there were imps and goblins, they would have immediately launched themselves at the sound without a second thought. However, the skeletons didn’t respond. They remained right where they were.

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHH,” shouted James. The sound echoed off of the cold stone walls, lasting a few seconds before it dissipated.. Yet, the skeletons still didn’t move.

“I guess they don’t have any hearing. Well, that’s good to know, I guess.”

James stuck his hand out from behind the wall and waved it in front of the skeletons. Immediately, all 3 skeletons turned and started walking towards him.

“But they can see, apparently.”

James pulled back and readied himself to bop some skeletons on the head.

As soon as the first skeleton showed itself from behind the corner, James brought the hammer down with his body weight

Crunch!

The hammer landed a clean hit on the skull, making a satisfying noise. The head of a hammer punched a hole through the unlucky skeleton’s cranium, and its movement became sluggish and slow. James felt mana coming from the hole he had just made. Eventually, the skeleton stopped moving at all.

“So sir beanie was right. Making a hole in the skull is enough to kill skeletons,” James thought. “At least, enough to kill these particular skeletons.”

Still, creating a hole in the skull was no easy task. James would have to land a very nice hit with a lot of his body weight to do that.

He pulled the hammer out of the whole, then dodged a punch from another skeleton. James was fighting against multiple piles of bones, and didn’t have time to stop. Since he didn’t have the leeway to wind up and bonk the second skeleton like he’d done to the first, James swung the hammer at the skeleton’s forearm.

Crack!

James could get addicted to hearing this sound. He wasn’t able to break both bones in the skeleton’s forearm, but he’d broken one and fractured the other. The hand and wrist hung limply from the rest of the arm. However, the skeleton seemed to be unfazed, and still went after James.

“The undead can’t feel pain, I guess. It makes sense.” James stepped back to avoid the bony hand of the last skeleton.

Using the lessons from the beanie and his experience from fighting the imps, James ducked and weaved under the two remaining skeletons’ attacks. They weren’t faster than the imps, but their reach was larger, so James still had to adjust a bit. But because he was armed with his hammer, James still had a slight advantage in reach.

Sure, the skeletons were stronger than the imps and goblins, but the difference didn’t matter that much, since James could always meet the enemy attacks with his hammer. James didn’t mind exchanging blows  - he wasn’t the one losing fingers.

Due to his advantages, it was a bit tedious, but not too difficult, to slowly wear the skeletons down. Every time James broke another bone, his job got easier. That being said, he found out that destroying the ribs of the skeletons really didn’t do much to impair their movement, except move their balance slightly to one side.

If the beanie were here, it would definitely scream about the importance of balance and mobility. But, James was much more worried about the skeletons taking a swing at him, getting lucky, and sending him to meet his maker in heaven. He would much rather fight a skeleton that was missing an arm or leg.

“Hah!”

Another loud crack sounded as James circled around one of the skeletons and attacked it from its flank, smashing its spine with his hammer. Its upper body was completely disconnected from its lower body, and it fell to the floor. Its legs stopped moving, while its upper body writhed about on the ground. It attempted to crawl towards James. 

James moved away from the skeleton on the ground, and the final standing skeleton followed him. He smirked a bit. These skeletons didn’t have any intelligence either.

The skeleton, which was missing several bones and had multiple cracks due to James’ earlier attacks, lurched forwards while pointing two fingers at him. It looked like it was trying to poke his eyes out.

“No, that’s not allowed,” said James. The hammer swung towards the skeleton, basically destroying its last arm. Now, the skeleton only had one leg and one femur for its limbs. After a few more hits, the skeleton was down for the count.

However, the skeleton he had left on the floor was still moving, so James carefully but confidently disabled it completely. Once the only thing it could do was wiggle its head about, James hoisted his hammer above his head, and brought it down.

Crack!

James could get addicted to this sound.

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