Chapter 13: Trial and Error
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Arthur grunted as he picked himself up, the chain of explosions had thrown him to the ground. The Tunnels of Reckoning was primarily inhabited by the Undead, and whatever had made this place into the Dungeon had reanimated the defenders with whatever Skills, Abilities, and Talents they had in life. 

Thus, how Arthur was nearly blown up by a couple of Fireballs exploding near his feet. The Dark Magus looked at his HUD and breathed a sigh of relief as he recast Void Shield as he got to his feet. Penny and Aaron were holding the line against five Zombies decked out in heavy plate and chainmail armor while Robert was firing a constant barrage of arrows at their support casters. 

Arthur hastily checked his HUD, his Health was down by a third, but both his Stamina and Spirit were going strong. He hastily cast Shadow Touch, five needle-like bolts of energy shot out from his extended hands and slammed into the Zombies fighting Penny and Aaron. Three of the needles sunk into the zombies while the other two shattered against the bodies of the Zombies indicating they had resisted the spell's effects.

Yet where the spell struck and took effect, the Shadow Corruption began to spread and eat away at their bodies. Aaron and Penny took full advantage and quickly managed to down two of the [Zombie Marauder] while another Zombie mage went down to Rob's constant fire. "Are you ok?" Jarome barked out between casts. 

The Druid had opened up somewhat, he was one of the founding members of the Crimson Company, the Clan that founded the Ebon Blade mercenary company. "I don't recommend getting blown up, but I am still alive," Arthur told the other caster as he finished reading a Bolt of Darkness.

The black and purple energy swirled around his hand and shot off, the [Zombie Arcanist] tried to duck away, but the bolt of energy slammed into his chest and sent it skidding down the tunnel. Arthur watched as Penny beheaded another Marauder leaving two heavy hitters they had to face as the last of the Arcanists went down with a trio of arrows in its head. 

Before Arthur could do anything, Aaron's ax removed an arm from one of the Marauders, and Penny skewered the other. The sound died down and Rob moved towards the corpses to recover his arrows and loot the bodies. Each of them dropped a handful of silver and copper coins with mediocre gear. Yet even that had proved beneficial for the growing Dark Magus, while Arthur had some decent gear, he still had several empty slots that he could fill, and the Dungeon was helping with filling those vacancies. 


Armor Name: Circlet of the Warmage
Armor Type: Light Armor; Silver Wire, Diamond; Crown 
Armor Class: Uncommon
Equipment Slot: Head
Base Defense: 6
Primary Effects...
--- +10 Intelligence
--- +5 Endurance

Armor Name: Handwraps of the Dark Magus
Armor Type: Light Armor; Ebonweave, Silver Thread; Fingerless Gloves
Armor Class: Uncommon
Item Slot: Hands
Base Defense: 8
Primary Effects...
--- +5 Intelligence
--- +10 Spirit


While neither piece was overwhelmingly special, they still increased Arthur's attributes, so he was happy with what he got. "Ok the boss of the Dungeon is in the next room, once we are done with him, we are done for the day," Jarome instructed the others.

"What can we expect?" Arthur asked as he rolled his shoulders. 

"The final boss is a Death Knight, so it can wield a mix of both magic and melee if we get close. So, watch out for any Debuffs and call out since I will be keeping a sharp eye on Penny's Health for the next part." Jarome responded before pointing to Aaron. "You got the ads, kite them while Rob and Arthur whittle them down. Arthur, keep a full stack of Shadow Corruption up on the boss. When it hits 50% Health, it will unleash an AoE, we hide behind the stone columns around the room. Questions?" Jarome instructed. 

Everyone acknowledged the information and Jarome quickly recast some group Buffs while Arthur renewed the Shadow Sight Buff as Penny and Aaron stomped up to the large double doors and pushed them open. The boss room was set up in a circular fashion, with half-crumpled columns throughout the room. Arthur and Rob activated Stealth and moved ahead while Aaron, Penny, and Jarome moved in the open. 

Arthur studied the Zombie and [Lucious, Dungeon Lord of the Tunnels of Reckoning] popped up over the armored form. Several piles of bones lay near the Boss and Arthur assumed the Death Knight would use them to create any Undead Minions it could call up. When the Zombie opened its eyes I spotted a difference, where most of the Undead had pitch-black eyes, this one had irises that were a bright blue that glowed. 

It donned its helm and thrust a hand forward, thick black tendrils shot out and slammed into the piles of bones. "This place is not for the uninitiated, leave or die!" the Death Knight spat out as Undead began to rise. Arthur made a mental note to investigate the Lore of the Dungeon, for now, he would keep his head down. 

The Undead started to emerge as Penny slammed into the seven-foot-tall Death Knight, it staggered back while Aaron engaged the [Skeletal Warrior] that emerged. Arthur quickly cast Shadow Touch, three of the needle-like bolts slammed into the Boss, and went to work. 

The Boss let out a roar of rage and exchanged a series of blows that drowned out Aaron's fight with the Undead Skeletons. While something within Arthur would not let him like the Berserker, he had grown to respect the man. He was a tenacious fighter and knew how to temper the Berserker rage without getting lost to it but he was currently surrounded by a half dozen Undead, and his Health was falling steadily. 

Arthur gritted his teeth as he quickly cast his next spell, the Spirit built up as a red reticle flashed into existence as he focused on what he wanted to do. As his fingers finished the spell and splayed outwards, Bog of Darkness seeped out of the ground. Black tendrils stretched and constricted around the Undead hampering their movements and buying Aaron and Penny some breathing room as Robert entered the fight. 

Arrows pelted the Undead, while the Ranger had access to the Poison Arrow Talent, Arthur was unsure how well they would do against the Undead. Still based on the glowing arrows, Arthur was sure Robert was going to find out. 

While the arrows did minimal damage against the Skeletal Warriors, Lucious was a different story. The Death Knight soon looked like an oversized porcupine as Penny and the Death Knight continued to exchange blows. The Warden was started to look worse for wear, despite Jarome's efforts she was sitting at about 50% Health to the Death Knights 80%. 

Then again, the Druids' attention was split between the Warden and the Berserker. Arthur took a step from between the columns as he triggered the active component of Dark Adept. While the Death Knight might be resistant to Arthur's spells, he wasn't immune. Coupled with the 50% bonus to Damage and Effects, the Bolts of Darkness hit the Undead like hammer blows. 

The Boss staggered buying Penny and Jarome more time to recover. While Arthur didn't want to be doing this, Penny had proven true so he would do his best to keep the Warden alive. The barrage had two effects, it left Arthur with a minimum of Spirit and a splitting headache as he downed a Spirit Potion. The other effect was that Lucious roared in rage and started to glow. "BACK BEHIND THE COLUMNS!" Jarome barked and despite what they were doing, Aaron, Penny, and Arthur darted for the nearest stone columns as the room was scoured with dense Shadow magic. 

Arthur gritted his teeth as the blast of shadow magic washed over him, while he had managed to get behind one of the columns, the blast had still managed to tag him. Thankfully between the Void Shield and his Resistance to Shadow-based magic, the damage was minimal. Arthur quickly glanced around the stone column and could see more than a dozen new Undead rising from the ground and quickly hit the boss with Drain to speed up his recovery. 

Penny and Aaron moved to intercept them before they could spread out while Robert started to fire arrows again as the magical storm abated. Arthur looked at his HUD, the Bog of Darkness spell was still on Cooldown and useless, so he started casting Shadow Touch hoping it was enough for now. 

Ruby absently kicked her foot as she waited, she was furious but like most of her family, she had been trained. Odell's were a rich family, so they had to be careful who they let in their lives and all of them were trained in combat, deception, politics, and other more subtle forms.

One of her aunts had been interested in the new game Paramount had recently released and wanted to know if it was worth investing real-world money into. Ruby had no idea she would encounter a distant cousin within the game much less the reaction upon seeing her. After contacting a few family members, she tracked down why exactly Derrick was so pissed off at her and why she was waiting for the piece of shit now.

Nick smiled as he entered the apartment, Ruby stood and sauntered over to him. A smile on her face as she drew him in for a kiss. Neck groaned as he enjoyed the lip lock, but then his world exploded in pain, and he dropped to his knees.

Ruby stepped back, her knee had connected with Nick's balls, but she was far from done. Her right hook connected with his face causing his head to smash into the nearby wall, "You piece of shit! You think you can fuck with family and get away with it!" she snarled as Nick groggily shook his head.

Ruby looked at the wall and noticed it had been cracked, she snarled incoherently and smashed a left hook causing the other wall to crack as Nick's head slammed into it as June's assistant came barreling down the hallway. "That's enough miss, why don't you go for a walk or go get a drink. Miss Henrick wants to talk to him, and she can only do that if he is coherent," he told her as he sat her down. Nick started to stand but the man glared at him making him wilt. "I would suggest you stay there, if you get up, I won't save you a second time." the man advised.

Ruby turned and spat on Nick before sauntering off, while Nick was beaten, he still enjoyed the view of Ruby's ass as she walked away. The man's backhand split his lip and knocked him to the floor, "Listen up boy, you're in enough trouble you don't want to add to it. She' he pointed to Ruby as she turned around the corner and disappeared into the kitchen. 'Wanted to hand you over to some of her distant relatives to deal with. June dissuaded her but you press her, and I will send you away to disappear. Understand?" the man asked calmly.

Nick nodded his head, not understanding the situation or why Ruby was pissed at him. He knew Ruby was part of the Odell family and that was a path to real wealth and power, and Nick didn't want to fuck it up. The man yanked him up to his feet and dragged him to the living room where June Henrick waited patiently. "Ahh the fuck up of the hour is here, thank you for your time, Mr. Nick Santos. I am here representing Mr. Derrick Sumner on his behalf. He is suing his former employer over his termination, and he is considering suing you for slander." June informed the man as she laid out several papers in front of Nick as he was forced to sit in the chair opposite of June. "I am informing you that this is being recorded, I am June Henrick talking to Nick Santos in relation to his complaint lodged against my client Derrick Sumner. Mr. Sumner was terminated based on a complaint filed by Mr. Santos and Mr. Daniels. Can you confirm that this is the complaint you filed with your companies Human Resources department?" June asked as she pointed to a set of papers in front of Nick.

Nick glanced at the paper then back at the woman, "You know it is, my signature is right there." June raised an eyebrow as she smirked at him. "How the hell can he afford you?" Nick asked losing all pretense, if he was fucked at least he was going to go out on his terms.

June's smirk grew, "Who introduced you to Ruby?" she asked, and Nick thought back and knew that Derrick had, but so what.

"So, they are some distant cousins...Who gives a shit? He is a nobody!" Nick exclaimed and Ruby came storming in, but June held up her hand stopping the other woman. While the Odell's were rich and powerful, the Henrick family were just as rich and powerful if not more so.

June gave him another smile as if amusing a small child. "Nick, the man you know as Derrick is Ruby's cousin through marriage. After his parents died when he was eight years old, Derrick was sent to Ruby's family, and they grew up together." June explained and the realization of how badly Nick fucked up soon dawned on him as June continued to explain. "Derrick wasn't born with that name, he changed it when he turned eighteen because of what he went through when he was eight. Derrick was born Arthur Payne Henrick, so when you ask how he can afford to pay me. Derrick is my nephew, and I am doing this pro-bono. Now you are being evicted from this apartment, you don't pay any bills, and everything is in Ms. Odell's name, please gather what you need and leave I have everything I need." June told him as she turned off the recorder and turned her glare onto Nick.

"You Mr. Santos are a piece of shit, you will stay long enough for the official investigation to be over and once that is done you will disappear quietly to the west coast. If you ever come back to this city, you will leave by a different means than your own power. Am I understood?" June calmy asked and Nick nodded his head as June's assistant grabbed him and dragged him from the room to pack a few belongings.