Chapter 68 – Committing Undead Genocide (2)
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There was no boss monster, but it wasn’t like there wasn’t anything in the room. The doors closed and locked themselves behind James, who slowly moved forwards. 

James felt it start happening before his eyes could tell what was happening, showing that his ability to detect mana had increased. A mass of negative energy began pooling at the center of the room, and a bright light began shining at the same time. When the light died out, it revealed the source of the mana - a smooth gray rock standing upright, with its bottom half buried in the ground. The stone was cut into a nice, thick slab and its top edge was slightly rounded:  it was a tombstone.

Suddenly, the ground near the tombstone trembled, and it turned from the usual stone to a sinister looking green-gray soil. A hand protruded from the ground, grasping at the air, followed by 20 more. The hands put themselves on the ground and pushed downwards, pulling the arm and body of the hands’ owners up. It was the stereotypical birth of zombies: crawling out of graveyards. As soon as they pulled their legs out of the ground, they started stumbling towards James.

James dashed forward and swung his hammer, painting the nearby floor a mottled greenish-gray with the nearest zombie’s brain. After he had taken out 6 or so of the zombies, he looked up and discovered that even more zombies were being created, and that all of them were crawling out of the soil near the tombstone. The tombstone radiated that disgusting magical energy that the undead had.

“Ah, I see. I have to destroy the tombstone, or it will keep on producing zombies. It’s different from the usual boss battle, but it’s quite straightforward.”

To check how hard the tombstone was, James reached into his bag and grabbed a throwing knife. He hadn’t used them in a while. After all, throwing knives wouldn’t do anything to the undead. James wasn’t strong enough to break a skull with nothing but a small projectile weapon. Maybe if it was a needle, he’d be able to stick it all the way though, but with a knife, he had no chance.

The knife shot towards the tombstone, but it bounced off, not even leaving a scratch. James wasn’t disappointed, since he didn’t expect the knife to do anything. If it did, it would be too easy. He’d have to get into close range and see if he could break the tombstone.

James redoubled his efforts and increased his zombie slaying speed, making sure to avoid slipping on the wet stone floor. He had to make sure that he killed the zombies faster than they could be spawned, or else he wouldn’t make any progress. If he was slower, he would even get overwhelmed. However, he settled at a reasonable pace, one that James could maintain for a decently long time, but would still make progress. There was no point in overexerting himself.

Eventually, James got closer and  closer to the tombstone. Eventually, he was able to step onto the soil where the tombstone was placed. However, as soon as this happened, the rate at which zombies increased dramatically.

“Well, of course there's part two. This is supposed to be a boss fight, after all.”

James continued destroying zombies, but discovered that he couldn’t break through the sheer number of zombies being generated. The new pace was faster than before, and even if he killed one every 5 seconds, a new one would take its place. 

So, James started moving forwards by using bursts of strength, followed by short breaks. He slowly pressed forwards, a little bit at a time, until he found an opportunity.

Now! James saw a gap in the horde of zombies, and lunged through the hole, jumping over a dead zombie, and ducking under the arm of an outstretched zombie. This was one of the few times where James used his full strength - he dashed past all the zombies and was able to get past their defense. James lifted his hammer and brought it down

The tombstone turned out to be much softer than it looked, and shattered into pieces, releasing a gust of magic power. After confirming that the tombstone was destroyed, James turned around ready to clean up the remaining zombies. However, all the zombies stopped moving. All the corpses, including the destroyed zombies that laid on the floor, turned into particles of light and condensed, leaving magic stones and yellow balls behind.

 [Congratulations! You have cleared the 4th floor! You will gain +1 stat point in each category!]

“Jeez.” James looked around at the scene left behind: gore and decay covered the floor and walls, and at least 30 magic stones were scattered about the room. James looked at his feet and found a larger magic stone where the zombie spawner was. 

“I guess the tombstone counted as a tier 2 monster.” 

James started the slightly tedious task of picking up all the magic stones. He was halfway through before he issued a cry of disgust.

“Oh god, I have to eat that?”

There were 2 orbs of endurance on the floor, touching the filth of the zombies. James was very glad he had water in his spatial bag. He rinsed them off multiple times and wiped them clean multiple times, then brought him to his mouth.

“Nah, man. No way. There’s no way in hell I’m eating this shit until I’ve sanitized it 37 times. 

Since he’d cleared the floor, he was allowed to exit the dungeon. He went back to the dungeon shop, washed the orbs 37 times with soap and water, and then consumed them.

“That puts me at 5 orbs already. This floor will go by very quickly. I’m getting a lot of stones and orbs because I’m killing a lot of monsters.”

James prepared to run through the 4th floor once more. He wanted to try something out.

“I have an idea. And it’s gonna be the most amazing idea ever.”

========

“This was the most amazing idea ever.”

James stood on top of the soil that the tombstone generated. Every time a zombie crawled out of the ground, James would stab it in the head with his spear, spawn-killing it immediately. Then, he’d use his strength and fling the body away, onto the piles of corpses that had built up. Rinse and repeat.

He’d ran through the floor again, and when he reached the boss room, he’d slowly beaten down all the zombies until he reached the tombstone. Instead of destroying it, he farmed the zombies that spawned.

In this fashion, James had been able to kill hundreds of zombies without much effort. The hardest part had been shoving all the defeated zombies over to the other side, so that they wouldn’t get in the way.

James doubted he was the only one who came up with this idea, though. Even if he was the only person in the dungeon who’s luck stat was broken and could collect so many orbs, this was also the perfect space to collect magic stones, which could be turned into points.

“Hmm. I’m pretty sure I should reset it now.”

The amount of destroyed zombies sprawled out on the floor had accumulated over time. It was getting troublesome for James to move the zombies out of the way. Additionally, the smell was absolutely awful. Even though James had gotten somewhat used to the smell of zombies and the feel of their mana, this was beyond levels he could tolerate. It made him want to vomit.

So, James would clear the floor, which would reset and clean the boss room, and do the exact same thing. He’d already done this twice.

James stabbed the tombstone with the spear. The tombstone, according to the results from his experimentation, could break from almost any melee attack, but would remain unscratched no matter how hard James threw a knife or a potion vial at it. This made logical sense, since the entire point of the boss fight was that the explorer had to struggle through the horde of zombies and get to the weak point. If the tombstone could be sniped with the back with a projectile or ranged magic, that would be kind of easy.

Well, since he couldn’t use magic, James wasn’t able to test that part of his theory. But he was pretty convinced of his deduction.

The stone broke, and all the bodies disappeared in a flurry of light. James then had to collect the massive pile of magic stones that appeared.

“This is really a ridiculous amount. It looks like the storage bag is half full. That means there’s roughly 50 pounds of these stones in it. Although, to be fair, magic stones are denser than normal rocks.”

Next, James picked up all of the orbs that were dropped. This time, there were 8 of them. He cleaned them in the dungeon shop’s bathroom, then consumed them all. 

“Gah! I’ve never taken so many at a time.”

Unlike before, James could now feel the changes in his body from using the orbs. The previously unnoticeable effect was now magnified. However, since it wasn’t his strength or agility that was being augmented, which would affect his movement, he didn’t have any trouble adjusting to his new abilities. He merely felt that, all of a sudden, he could run at the same speed for a longer time. Such was the result of his endurance increasing.

James stabbed zombies mindlessly throughout the entire night. Although he'd been grinding the dungeon every night, he’d kept it to a decent amount, and had also taken some time off to rest and relax. However, James grit his teeth and willed himself to keep going, because he wanted to do one thing that before would have been completely unthinkable: completely raise his endurance stat by the end of the night. He wanted 50 orbs.

When he was halfway through, he began to get a little tired, and started having some doubts about this plan. When he was three quarters done, he was really tired and wanted to stop, but he was close, so he kept on going. It took him a lot of effort, but he finally did it: 

{James Lu: Dungeon Explorer – Status Monitored

 Cleared 4th Floor

 Points: 1799

 STR: 60

 DEF: 55

 END: 55

 AGI: 55

 INT: 45

 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)                                                                                                }

James returned from the dungeon and laid on his bed. He felt terrible, despite having gotten 9 hours of “sleep.” If sleep meant strenuous labor. He was tired to the point where he couldn’t think straight.

“Oh,” he thought. “My luck stat changed again. But it’s still broken.”

I've been trying to add tags but

a) There are a lot of them

b) I don't want to add "spoiler tags"

So if you see a tag that would fit, let me know by shooting me a message or commenting.

Thanks to everybody following the story.

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