Doyle turns the screens toward Ally and asks, ‘So what’s with the whole level four thing being repeated so much? I can appreciate the wind wolves, but it looks different from usual.’
Ally takes a look and nods, ‘Oh good. It started to show that. I was a little annoyed when you got the axebeak and it didn’t have the information there. Maybe it was just waiting for you to try putting one on the wrong floor or getting a monster you couldn’t spawn?’
She shakes her head, ‘Anyway, the level four bit in parentheses is the monster’s minimum level. That means you can’t actually summon a wind wolf yet. You’ll have to wait till you make the fourth floor.’
‘Hmm’, Doyle rolls to the side, ‘Any particular reason it has the min level in the name? Seems like something you could have as its own category.’
Ally shrugs, ‘Not all monsters are made equal. You might get a strain of wind wolves that matures into level ten monsters instead of level four. The two types of wind wolf could be completely different species from opposite sides of the galaxy, and yet in the common tongue both might be called wind wolves. Instead of listing them under the native tongue or using special identifiers, the system will just package them under their level. If you got a level four wind wolf pattern from the system, then you would be creating a wind wolf from any number of possible worlds.’
‘What is more interesting is how the stats differ from the generic dungeon wolf we had as an option at the start. Plus one strength and two perception is nice, but the real kicker is the agility going up by eight whole points. Of course wind variants tend to be more movement focused, but that is quite the bump.’
‘But that isn’t really all that important at the moment. Those founders are still fighting outside and we need to be ready for whatever else leaks.’
Doyle nods at this and turns his attention back to the outside and takes stock.
First off, five of the stone wolves had died, though the hardest hit was the wind wolves. Even with the pack father in charge of them, they had lost 21 of their numbers. Along with the ten that entered the dungeon, that brings them down to just 19 left. From the looks of it, the ranged fighters did most of the damage once they got in close enough. Without the range to dodge, the wind wolves were just targets.
Things aren’t going completely fine, though. Up on top of the side wall there are six people, two from the front line. Those front-liners are a particularly big hit against the founders as it is letting more wolves get through to the back-line. Still, they are putting up quite the fight. The only thing is that the dire wolves and the lesser shadow wolf have made no moves yet. There at the back the pack mother sits, waiting.
As the fight continues the numbers start to even out. While the defenders do lose two more back-line fighters, that was from a risky gambit by Ace, and it paid off. With a sly use of his vines, Ace was able to open up 11 stone wolves to deadly attacks. Besides that, the ranged attackers are still playing havoc with the wind wolves, having dealt with 7 more. With that, there are only 41 wolves left in the pack.
At this point, the dire wolves go crazy. From their positions guarding the pack mother, they charge out and into the now spotty shield wall. With a series of loud crashes, they barrel through, even breaking two of the tower shields.
Things aren’t all good for them, though. Ace had planned for this and the second he saw them coming he yelled an order. The middle supports and ranged back-line fighters dropped what they were doing and with a jerk of a foot brought a long spear up to their hands. As the dire wolves crash through the frontline, they are met by a wall of points. Two of them die right out from spears going through vital areas. The other five are all seriously hurt.
Still, this opens up the way and the stone wolves are soon to follow. Their rocky hides prevent the same strategy from working as well. One does still die from a lucky shot directly through its eyes while the rest take glancing blows.
Then the fire comes. Ruby had been unnoticed at the back, not doing much. Now though was her time and all the power she had been channeling is released. Her customary ribbon of fire now looking more like a plasma arc scythes through nine stone wolves and the rest of the dire wolves. This attack however takes it out of her and it forces her to retreat to the wall to join the wounded in resting up.
Along with her, another five people are forced to retreat as well. Ace shakes his head and orders a retreat. The whole group falls back while angling towards the wall that the others are on. Upon reaching it, Kellinger raises up short walls of stone to keep them safe.
While some of the wolves continue to attack them, most now ignore the group and head directly towards the dungeon portal. In passing they kill three more wind wolves and a single stone wolf. This leaves exactly 20 wolves to enter the dungeon.
As the last of the wolves enter Jack turns to Ace and asks, “So why did we bother to defend in the first place? I bet we could have all just hid inside the wall and let them on through.”
Ace opens his mouth but then closes it with a thoughtful look on his face. Jim who had noticed the conversation comes in at this point. “We could have. In fact, from the viewpoint of someone like Jan, that would have been the correct answer. Keep that in mind and now look at your status.”
Jack takes a peak and his eyes go wide. Jim laughs, “Yeah, death defying situations tend to be conducive to learning. I bet there isn’t a single person here, including Kellinger and Doc, who hasn’t gained at least ten levels between their skills. Those wolves pushed us to our limits, not past it sadly or we could have opened up more of that path, but that’s life. Oh, and if we couldn’t at least deal with some of the wolves, they might have ended up camped out on the second floor. Would stifle our growth until we grew strong enough to take care of them.”
“Huh”, Jack rubs the back of his neck, “Fair enough that. Though a good few wolves still got through. Is that going to cause problems?”
Jim shrugs, “Possibly? Both the parents made it in. If they live long enough that could develop into a big problem. The other side of this is that we reduced the almost hundred strong pack down to a fifth the size. I figure the dungeon should be able to handle them. My only genuine worry is those parents I mentioned.”
“A wind wolf bigger than the dire wolves? A lesser shadow wolf? Those are serious threats. Even if just that shadow wolf lives we could be in trouble. It all depends on if the dungeon beats them and we won’t know until we get a team together to do a dive.”
With a gesture to the wounded Jim sighs, “I don’t think that will be an option today, maybe not even tomorrow. We all lived. That’s a powerful thing. At this point we can probably take everyone that left together with just the what? 27 of us? But hopefully it won’t come to that. Now there are wounded that need help. Let’s go see what we can do.”
Back in the dungeon the wolves have been doing a lot better this time. With twenty wolves, the first floor has little to challenge them. Even the vine assassin only manages to bring down one of the wind wolves before the father strikes it down with a barrage of wind blades. From there they make it to the kobold room in record time.
Since the kobold who set it wasn’t defeated the same trap is there to greet them as the last group. Once again a couple wolves fall to it, but this time that doesn’t help as much. The hail storm spell is still effective in chilling the wolves, but the kobolds are on the defensive.
As soon as the leader realizes how many wolves there are she calls a retreat. As a whole, the goats and kobolds swing around into the tighter area that used to be the leader’s room. From there the melee kobolds hold off the wolves in front, while the mage raises walls of ice to provide a chokepoint.
This strategy works well enough though both the magic users have to focus on maintaining it against the wolves attacks. During this clash, five stone wolves die as the goats exchange their lives to distract them.
The leader isn’t able to help much during this. She has taken it upon herself to contain the wind wolf father. Their fight goes back and forth as they take up one entire side of the line of battle. Neither side got close to their fight to avoid collateral damage. This stalemate can’t last though and after the rest of the kobolds kill four more wind wolves and another stone wolf, the lesser shadow wolf gets involved.
Until now she had been sitting back in the shadow of a stalagmite. Then she wasn’t there. Instead, she is attacking the kobold leader from her mate’s shadow. With one slash, she cripples the kobold’s leg and brings it down. This one attack is the death knell for the kobolds, and soon the remaining wolves manage to finish the fight. One of the mage kobolds even leaves a drop. Though of course none of the wolves know what that is so just avoid the glowing light as they make their way to the second floor.
Through the stone entry room, the nine remaining wolves make their way into the kobold ambush. At least the kobolds dream of being able to pull off an ambush. The lesser shadow wolf is able to detect them hiding in the shadows and spikes them through with glassy shadow tendrils. After that, the vine assassin in the next room does an even worse job than the one on the first floor. Papa wind wolf, having already seen the trick, is quick to cut down the captured wolf and finish the plant monster off.
As the wolves enter the next room they become confused. There is the scent of many goats having been in the room just recently, but it is empty. The scent even ends right at a rock wall. With no clue what is up with that, they head into the first axebeak room.
From across the room the birds are easily seen, and the wolves advance to attack them. The axebeaks don’t even stand a chance. With the agile wind wolves acting as bait, the stone wolves easily slam into them with leg breaking force. Without their legs, the birds don’t stand a chance and the wolves easily advance through another empty room and into another bird encounter.
This time though the birds are ready for them, having heard the fight with the last group. The moment a wolf pokes its head around the corner, the axebeaks are charging. As a one the six of them ram into the stone wolves. They still die but manage to take two of the wolves with them. The wolves continue into the next room and besides a few more birds not much happens.
Then they enter the next room. The staircase down isn’t too hard for them to navigate, and once on the floor the wolves wander deeper into the forest. As they enter the denser part of the trees, the end for them comes. Out from behind the trees, goat after goat arrives until there are about fifty of them. Then comes the kobolds, 21 in total. The lesser shadow wolf freezes in place before it chuffs and accepts what is to come.
The goats all charge at once. Under the assault of so many goats with the support from all the kobolds, the wolves are soon dead.