With the ramp room finished the group all gathers on the wooden platform in the next room. Across the way Susan can see the plateau that her husband had told her about with all the plants, but that would have to wait. With how he explained it, any attempt to climb it before they cleared the kobolds was pure folly.
Ace lets the people who haven’t been to this room yet take it in. All the trees and the cliff across from them looks quite impressive to see inside a cave. He claps his hands to get their attention, then explains to the new people how the room went down last time. Ace had already gone over it this morning, but a quick reminder doesn’t hurt anyone. “Okay, now that I have gone over that again, does everyone remember the plan of attack?”
After everyone answers positively, they head down the spiral staircase closest to the wall. On the floor, the group goes in the opposite direction Ace’s group had taken yesterday. They follow the wall around to the cliff and then into the heavy forest.
Just a few short strides in, they come across the goatherd and her goats. Ace nods and motions to Og and Ruby. Og pulls out a water balloon filled with something milky white while Ruby channels her magic. As she prepares Og watches the goatherd kobold carefully. Once she is closer to the group than any of her goats, he throws the balloon.
It strikes side on to the kobold’s face and bursts. The white fluid wraps around her head and right away hardens and turns a deep grassy green. Shocked by the attack, she tries to scratch off the mess but is unable to free her face. Though she doesn’t get much of a chance as moments later a dull red line flies through her neck.
As their goatherd falls over without a head, all the goats panic. A couple try to charge the group while most of them run off deeper into the trees. Those two chargers soon join their fallen leader.
Ace gestures onward, “okay, first part of the plan worked. We should have been noticed by now and less goats than I had hoped attacked, so let’s hurry. Maybe we can catch more of them in the corner up ahead.”
As one the group rushes along the cliff, deeper into the dense trees. Ace’s hope comes true when they arrive at the corner where the cliff meets the wall. Three of the goats had ended up there and were huddling up. Now cornered, the goats attack. Too little too late as three goats against six adventurers is not a fair matchup in any sense of the word.
Ace nods as they rush along the wall, “there should only be three more goats and nine kobolds. If the one kobold is still on that hill then we should be able to count them out for the start of the fight.”
They pass through more trees and then suddenly in front of them are the kobolds and what is left of the goats. One of the caster kobolds at the back points at them and shouts. The three last goats all perk up at this and charge. Close behind them follow the three kobolds with clubs while the dagger kobolds break off to the side away from the wall.
Susan nods, “three flankers, I have them.” And she fades into the trees to meet them. Ace trusts her to take care of them so stays in position at the front line with Jack in between him and Sammy.
As the goats bang into their shields, ice shards scream towards them. Behind the frontline Ruby finishes a spell and a red film pops up over the top of the group. As the shards impact it, they flash boil in a bright flash. This leaves a small hole in the film, but as she puts more mana into the spell the holes fill in.
Between the two shield users, Jack takes his time and with a mighty overhead swing crushes two of the goats. Not normally possible, but Ace and Sammy had forced them together. With only a single goat left, Sammy is able to easily skewer it on her sword and pull back in time to meet the charging kobolds.
The mace kobolds saw how the goats ended up though, so stop short of the group and try to approach more defensively. Their shields raised the three separate a little and tried to come at Sammy who was closest to the wall. This however just lets Ace move around to flank them, forcing them into the wall.
Seeing things are under control, Jack disengages from the mace kobolds and then rushes around Ace towards the casters in back. His sudden charge disrupts the healer’s concentration, causing it to drop the spell it had channeled. On both sides of the healer, the ice mages redirect their magic from the rest of the group, but they are a little too late.
Jack barrels into the left ice mage and knocks it over. The remaining ice mage doesn’t fare much better either as a small ribbon of fire burns across its hand, Ruby now able to do something besides maintain the shield.
The healer kobold backs up behind the burned kobold and quick casts a heal on it. Burned scales flake away, but this is a temporary respite. With no kobolds to hold her down, Ruby has started to pump out her fiery ribbons. One or two have gone towards the mace kobolds, but the lion’s share are all aimed at the ice mage that just got healed.
While the ribbons aren’t too powerful as Ruby had focused more on cast speed there is enough of them. Within a few moments of being fully healed, the kobold gets slammed with five ribbons of fire. They slide along the scales, not quite having the power to penetrate, but it is enough. After seven more ribbons and the healer’s frantic attempt to save it, the ice mage dies.
As soon as it falls over the healer isn’t long to follow. Off to the side Jack had easily dealt with the other ice mage and was just waiting for the right time. Thus ready he was able to pounce in and with a deft swing of his concrete mace he smashed the healer’s head in.
Back with the mace kobolds Ace and Sammy have held them off with their shields and suppressing fire from Og. Now though the mage kobolds are all dead the duo goes on the offensive. It starts with a well-aimed lead sphere from Og which takes out one of the kobolds eyes and they follow it up with a synchronized shield bash.
They bash the three uninjured kobolds back into the wall, leaving the half blind kobold to stand alone. It doesn’t do a good job of it though, and another shot from Og drops it to the floor. Ace charges at the other two with Sammy just behind him. She just had to take a moment to coup de grâce the fallen kobold.
The two have barely picked themselves up from the wall when Ace slams them into it again. Worse for them, Ace has charges his shield with some mana and the vines spring out and grapple them. As they struggle in the vines Sammy slides her sword home into the heart of one while Ruby decapitates the other with a well-placed fire ribbon.
With all the enemies dead the group holds themselves battle ready. Only once the monsters start to dissipate do they relax. Ace shakes his head, “that went better than yesterday. Plus it looks like nothing has changed in this room, which is nice. The only shame is that the hill kobold either doesn’t always spawn up there or it had enough time to get down.”
Ruby shrugs, “you win some, you lose some. What is important is to make sure the winning outweighs the losing. Now all that is left is to loot it all.”
Ace shakes his head, “no, we need to check on the core again. Chances of it having a third floor are slim to none, but who knows if it added something new between it and us.”
At this point Susan ghosts out of the forest with a smile. “What? You aren’t going to wait for me to confirm I finished my job?”
Og rolls his eyes, “after what you showed in the last room? You and Jeremy are way above our skill level if not level level. If you couldn’t handle those three blade boys, I would be highly disappointed in you.”
She shrugs, “whatever, I’m going to go and climb that cliff. My husband can’t be the only one who can get up there.”
Ace claps his hands before she can walk off. “Let me repeat. We Are Going To Check The Core. We, as in all of us. Not only can you climb the cliff afterwards, but we all will. It was unbelievably tough for Jeremy to climb it and I want to know if it is the same for everyone or just matched to the person. I have a hunch on how it works going by how he described it. If my hunch proves true, then I might just require all of our core members who make it here try and climb it.”
Susan sighs, but what Ace said made sense so she can’t really go against it. That sorted out they all head towards the forest room’s exit to check on the core. Though once they confirm that yes, this is the end of the dungeon. She runs off to give it a go, with the group following behind at a more relaxed pace.
By the time they reach the cliff, Susan has already climbed up a third of the way. Og is about to start his climb when Ace shakes his head. “No, wait until last. You’re the only one of us who could reasonably attack while climbing.”
Then he turns towards Sammy, “you can start your climb now, Ruby will follow you once you’re about as far as Susan is.” He nods to Jack, “I go after Ruby and you can keep Og company. Don’t start your climb until three of us have either made it up or given up. If anyone falls, you’re in charge of catching them. I don’t think the space will warp the falling distance so even if you can’t catch them, it won’t be too bad but still, better safe than sorry.”
He claps his hands, “I want all of you to try your hardest to reach the top. I don’t know if Jeremy told Susan last night, but after talking to him we suspect you can get a very nice reward for climbing this cliff.”
Everything planned out the group sits back to wait their turn. One by one they all start their climb until only Jack and Og are at the bottom. The four climb and climb and climb until finally one of them reaches the top. Not Susan, she is still only at the halfway point, but rather Ruby.
At the top of the cliff Ruby dredges up a last burst of energy and drags herself over and onto flat ground. Minutes later she is still there out of breath when Ace pulls himself up as well. Layed out beside her, he pants, “I didn’t think I was this out of shape compared to the others.”
At this point it takes a good ten minutes before Sammy reaches the top and for Jack to start his climb. Ace leans over the edge and shouts down, “Og, you might as well start now. No reason to hold us up at this point. I was worried something might have changed up here, but it seems clear.”
More time passes and everyone besides Susan has made it to the top, though she isn’t too far behind. Just a few more minutes and she too is able to pull herself up over the edge.