“Aren’t we going to wrong way?” Rudolph asked his entourage as he sat on Johann. “The wilderness is to the south.”
“Her Highness has asked us to escort you through an easy dungeon. The forest of bats in the northeast has a dungeon suitable for a beginner,” the driver of the carriage said. The group had one carriage and a dragon with a total of 5 people. Two were warriors, one was a thief, the driver was a beast tamer, and Johann was a novice.
“But, I was expecting adventure and excitement. Magical beasts and demon adventurers competing against us,” Rudolph said.
One of the warriors sighed. “We don’t have a proper healer and you want to go to the most dangerous region in the continent. All the dungeons there are purple and higher. The one we’re going to is barely yellow. It’s a perfect place for a greenhorn,” he said. “As long as you’re in my party, you have to follow my rules.”
Rudolph sighed and nodded. “Yes, sir,” he said. His father told him to follow orders closely and not be disrespectful. A rancid smell floated to his nose and he almost puked. “Wait, wait. I have to clear Johann’s poop bag; I can’t stand the smell,” he said.
The leader snorted. “If we stopped every time your dragon took a dump we’d never make it to Shaldor before nightfall. Keep going, that smell is pleasant compared to carnage on a battlefield,” he said.
“How many dungeons have you cleared, Dustin?” Tafel looked up from her book and asked.
“Twenty seven and an eighth,” Dustin replied as he turned a page. “You should read that book; it’s important.”
Tafel frowned, but resumed reading. After a few minutes passed she raised her head again and asked, “How do you clear an eighth of a dungeon?”
Dustin sighed and put down the book he was reading. “It was a white ranked dungeon,” he began. “I was with four other SSS ranked adventurers. We thought it would be a breeze, the entrance to the valley was wide and white torches lined the tops of the mountains. Lots of space makes kiting easier, but we were swarmed by summons. Earth golems, water elementals, fire elementals, wind and ice spirits. It was terrible. We fought non-stop for two weeks before we reached a clearing. One of the adventurers, Doofus, died when he swallowed a water elemental hiding in his flask. At the clearing, a fairy was eating an apple and saw us. It came over and told us we did a good job and that there were only seven waves left before we got to see the dragons, but if we wanted to leave now it would resurrect Doofus. When we heard that we turned around and left.”
“Where’s Doofus now? Are white ranked dungeons really that hard?” Tafel asked with wide eyes.
“Doofus gave up on adventuring after that and became a teacher at the academy. Who knows, he might be teaching your brothers right now,” Dustin said with a smile. “As for white ranked dungeons; ah, if you see one, take a mental image then leave. It’s not worth the risk.”
“Why are dungeons ranked by color and not just levels?”
“Well, levels would be easier for people who’ve never been to a dungeon, but dungeon entranceways usually light up with a certain color depending on the strength of the mana source inside. So while a yellow dungeon is the equivalent of level one, it’s easier to say ‘that cave is glowing yellow, it’s a yellow dungeon.’ Right?”
Tafel nodded. “I guess that makes sense,” she said.
“Is he sleeping?”
“I think he is.”
“What the hell?”
“Is he not afraid?”
“Go poke him.”
“Why don’t you poke him? He smells like a dragon, I ain’t touching that.”
“What’s the issue?” a pale woman wearing a red cloak said as she appeared behind the cluster of bats.
“Master! There’s a thing sleeping at the mini boss room,” one of the bats chirped.
“There’s two things!” another one said.
“Is it a dragon? It feels like a dragon, but how did it get in the cave?” the woman said, “I’ll check it out.”
“Be careful, it’s scary, very scary. It dragged in a behemoth,” a bat called out as the woman’s figure disappeared.
“Think she’ll be alright?”
“Of course, Master is always alright.”
“Yes, Master’s the best.”
The woman stood at the top of the stairs leading down from the mini boss room. There was a naked boy and a pig sleeping on top of a frozen behemoth bear; the eight legged basilisk mini boss was lying on its back pretending to be dead. When it sensed the woman’s presence, it quickly got up and scurried behind her.
“Useless thing,” she said and kicked it. “Can’t you even kill a boy and a pig?”
The basilisk shook its head and ran down the stairs making a racket on its way down.
“Why’s it so noisy?”
The woman looked up and saw Vur sitting up while holding a snoring Snuffles. Vur turned to look at the woman and their eyes met. Her eyes widened when she saw his golden slit pupils and she kneeled.
“I’m sorry for my lack of respect, dragon. May I know why you took residence here?” she asked.
Vur blinked and a wide smile appeared on his face. “That’s right; I’m a dragon,” he said and let out a roar. The woman trembled, but she remained kneeling. Chirps and flapping echoed throughout the lower levels as all the bats started to flee deeper in. “I’m hiding from the mean elf ladies. Grimmy said I shouldn’t kill things I wasn’t going to eat, except for humans and demons, but he said I can’t eat or kill elves. This is your home?” Vur asked. “It looks nice, smaller than my mama’s cave though.”
The woman looked up and smiled, two fangs could be seen glinting in the torch light. “I’m glad you like it,” she said. “Stay as long as you’d like. Could I offer you something to eat or drink?”
Vur tilted his head. “Why would you do that?” he asked.
“It’s proper manners to offer guests food and drink, no?” the woman asked.
Vur made a face. “Those elves didn’t have proper manners,” Vur said. “They tried to feed me dirt and then spanked me.”
The woman blinked. “How old are you?” the woman asked.
“I’m a dragon,” Vur said. “Grimmy said dragons don’t age.” He looked at the woman, then sighed and shook his head.
The woman’s eyebrows twitched. “Why do you look like… that?” she asked gesturing at him.
“My papa said I’m not old enough to grow scales and wings yet,” Vur said.
“Then that means you can age, right?” the woman asked. Vur’s eyebrows bent towards each other and he tilted his head. Vur looked down at her with his arms crossed and said, “I’m a dragon.”
“Okay, okay. Forget I asked,” the woman said with her hand pinching her forehead, “if you’ll excuse me.” The woman stood up, curtsied and turned to leave.
“Wait,” Vur said. The woman stopped and turned towards him. “I’m thirsty,” Vur said. A vein bulged out of the woman’s forehead and she clenched her fist. She exhaled and said, “I’ll get something for you to drink.”
A few minutes later, she returned with a golden chalice that had a clear liquid in it. Vur took the chalice from her hand and was about to drink, but the woman grabbed his arm to stop him. “After someone gives you something, you say thank you,” she said.
“Isn’t me not eating you thanks enough? Grimmy says that everyone who is not being eaten by dragons should thank dragons for not eating them,” Vur asked.
“Thank you for not eating me. Now you thank me for giving you that drink,” she said with a smile. Vur frowned and tried to raise the chalice, but he couldn’t move his arm. His eyes began to glow, but Juliana’s face appeared in his head and they stopped. “You’re scarier than that plant lady,” Vur said. “Thank you for giving me this drink.” The woman let go of his arm and pat his head.