Chapter 67 – Committing Undead Genocide (1)
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Sounds echoed down a stone corridor in the middle of...somewhere. None of the dungeon explorers who crawled through these unnaturally formed walkways knew where it actually was. They didn’t know if it physically existed. They only knew it was real.

But within that stone corridor, a somewhat skinny teenager toiled, defeating foe after foe, enemy after enemy. He paid no attention to his sweat, his fatigue, his injuries. Actually, the last was because he never got any injuries. But, all of his labor was for the sake of a small, round object.

“Got it!” James picked up the green orb on the ground - the 50th one. He ate it, and felt his body become a tiny bit more resilient.

“And that’s that. I must say goodbye to the sweet sounds of bones breaking.”

{James Lu: Dungeon Explorer – Status Monitored

 Cleared 3rd Floor

 Points: 1477

 STR: 59

 DEF: 54

 END: 4

 AGI: 54

 INT: 44

 LUK: 

 Skills: Advanced Knife Throwing, Advanced Knife Combat, Intermediate Spear Combat,
            Intermediate Hammer Combat, Intermediate Close Quarter Combat, Beginner Sword
            Combat, Monster Taming, Mental Connection, Beginner Mana Detection

 Tamed Beasts: Leonardo the Bear (Leo)                                                                                                }

All the possible defense orbs had been collected, since he could only go up to 50. It wasn’t like he hadn’t tried, but he found it literally impossible. Likewise, it was impossible for him to feed them to Leo.

At this point, James was already really strong, physically speaking. Since his defense and strength stats were finally balanced, he could lift more than twice the weight the average adult male could lift and have no issues or injuries. However, he could only do so for a very short time - his endurance stat was still pitifully low, at 4.

Now, this wasn’t to say that James had no endurance whatsoever. If all the stats were taken at face value, James who started out with 1 in each category, shouldn’t have survived. So, he knew to take his stats with a large grain of salt. 

He did become much stronger and faster, and this was shown in his stats. But he’d also become more fit in general, due to the amount of exercise he was getting. However, this was not reflected in his endurance stat. Why? He did not know.

The only clue he had was what he had heard from John, the shopkeeper. He needed to get to the 5th floor, and obtain his magic tome. Then, he might get a clue as to why his stats were weird, or why he didn’t get a relic.

Well, James was now one step closer. He was done with the 3rd floor, and could now go on to the 4th.

“I could just go to the 4th now. The 3rd floor doesn’t bother me at all anymore, not even the boss. From the information I know, the 4th floor shouldn’t be any harder for me.”

After a moment of thought, James decided that he was capable of advancing. Of course, he made sure that he had plenty of potions on his person. He bulldozed through the rest of the floor, eliminating any skeletons he encountered, and crushed the boss monster once again.

“Fuck.”

Using his card and his wonderful keyword, he teleported out of the stone room into another stone room. 

James landed in a corridor that was similar to the one he had just left. However, it was wider, and taller. There was more space to move around. James had never really noticed, but the dungeon did give a sort of claustrophobic feel. One difference did catch James’ attention as he walked along - he didn’t spot any traps. Before, there were traps that were relatively harmless and really easy to spot. However, they were still traps. They could leave you with a broken limb or leave you helpless against the other monsters if you weren’t careful. James assumed the worst. Treading on the side of caution, James brought out his spear and resumed tapping the floor, in case the traps were simply well hidden.

However, there were no traps to be discovered. James soon found out the reason: the traps would have all been set off beforehand anyways. There was no need for them.

Like with the skeletons, James felt them before he saw them, using his magical detection. Pulses of repulsive mana gave away the locations of the enemies. It made James feel uneasy, as if his skin was crawling.

Grotesque, humanoid creatures. Rotting flesh haphazardly attached onto decaying bones. Long, misshapen fingers, gaunt, creepy faces, and entrails and filth.

Zombies.

James held a hammer. Like with the skeletons, the head was the weakness of the zombie. Smashing through with a hammer was a much better choice than trying to stab them with knives or spears. At the very least, James refused to do hand to hand combat - the zombies gave off a horrible stench.

For the first fight on the 4th floor, a horde of 6 undead surged towards him. This was the 4th floor. There was a heavy emphasis on numbers here, rather than individual strength. James was sure he’d meet even larger groups as he progressed.

“It would have been a lot if it was the past me. But now, this honestly seems weak,” James said to himself.

Although there were more of them, as individuals, they were not superior to the skeletons. If anything, they were easier to kill.

“Their skulls have been partly cracked or decomposed. It makes destroying their heads much easier than destroying the skeletons’ solid skulls.”

Without hesitation, James plunged into battle. He moved around, dodging all the attacks. It didn’t matter if it was - James didn’t even get grazed. He did not want this filth touching him. Every time he swung his hammer, it took out the head of a zombie, splattering foul fluids across the walls and floor.

It was quite easy to dodge everything. Zombies didn’t have intelligence, which made things easier. So far, James had only fought unintelligent beings. Forget intelligence - the zombies weren’t even sentient. They literally did not feel a thing. They would get their arms arms and legs chopped off and not show a single reaction. They would keep crawling towards their target until they were completely destroyed.

James had experienced the same thing with the skeletons, but for some reason, it had a different impact on him when it was a zombie. However, the dungeon was no place to have qualms. James had to grit his teeth and deal with the feeling of disgust. Finally, the last zombie fell to the ground, destroyed by James’ hammer. 

James could help but scrunch up his nose. Although he’d gotten used to the stench of blood on the 1st and 2nd floors, where he slayed goblins and imps, the smell of decay was worse. As he waited, the corpses disappeared, and were replaced with magic stones, but the stains on the wall and the terrible odor remained.

“The imps and goblins splattered me with blood, and the skeletons’ mana was bad. But these zombies. These are much worse than either of them, in both ways.” 

James collected the mana stones and continued moving forwards. He’d only walked forward a bit when he felt even mana presences in front of him.

“There really are a lot of monsters here, huh?”

=======

It was nothing short of a complete massacre. When James went up, the amount of monsters he fought increased. But the amount of imps paled in comparison to the number of zombies. The zombies came in hordes of up to 10 or 11. Even more than that, the spacing between the hordes was much tighter. James barely had time to rest before the next wave came. He was really thankful for the beanie for putting him through the strenuous strength exercises. If he hadn’t started training, James would have struggled a lot more with the consistent stream of enemies.

However, with great effort comes great rewards. Despite the filth and sweat James was wading through, he was raking in magic stones like nobody’s business. His spatial bag was filling up rapidly. Even more important to James were the small yellow orbs that the zombies occasionally dropped.

[Orb of Endurance – Tier 1

 Can be consumed to increase endurance stat. Maximum 50 for each tier.]

Endurance was one of the two stats James hadn’t raised by much, the other being intelligence. James didn’t count his luck, since it was broken. Raising this stat would allow James to use his power more freely. He didn’t know how strong he would be after this stat caught up to his rest.

James was collecting the orbs much faster than he did on the other floor, but this was because he was killing more enemies. By the time he reached the end of the floor, the boss room, he’d already collected 3 orbs.

“I swear I can run a bit longer now, but I’m not sure. Maybe I’m imagining it.”

As he stood in front of the boss room, James grabbed a water bottle from his spatial bag and poured it all over his head to remove some of the filth on his face. He then grabbed another and drank some.

At some point, James stopped trying to keep clean and focused on clearing the floor more safely and quickly. Right now, he was half covered in gunk.

“Hungry...hungry!”

James had a sudden feeling of hunger. However, this was not him: this was his tamed monster Leo’s urge to eat. James was connected to it and could sometimes perceive Leo’s thoughts. So far, James hadn’t received anything but hunger, sleep, or thirst. 

“Oh, come on. Now of all times?” James summoned Leo and fed him a few of the magic stones he had just collected. Leo did not seem to mind the fact that they had come from zombies - if they did come from zombies. James had half convinced himself that the magic stones were produced or transported by the dungeon - no matter what monster you killed, you’d get the same type of magic stone. Unless, of course, the tiers were different. 

Leo ate happily, and then returned back to the card, where James assumed it would sleep soundly. As James fed Leo more and more magic stones, its magic presence began to grow stronger. James’ intuition told him that it was about to reach a critical point, and that Leo would soon undergo a massive change. Maybe it would be able to fight soon.

But, that would happen later. James turned his focus back to the dungeon. He gradually pushed open the doors, expecting to fight a bigger, more powerful zombie. However, what he saw next surprised him.

There was no boss monster.

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