Randelhoff, Book, Igriham, Kang Oh, and Eder gathered together.
"What do you think?" Randelhoff asked. They'd never gone into the cave before, so he wanted their input.
"We've come far enough. I think we should head back," Book said prudently.
"Your will is my command, Chieftain," Igriham said brusquely.
"You two must... want to go inside," Randelhoff said, staring at Kang Oh and Eder.
Kang Oh and Eder simultaneously replied.
They hadn't found the door to Despia's next area, let alone a clue.
"Hmm." Randelhoff stroked his rough, sponge-like beard.
Their opinions were divided. If that's the case, then he, the chieftain, had to break the tie; his decision would decide the expedition force's course of action.
'What do I do...' Randelhoff was lost in thought.
Then, Kang Oh said, "How about this?"
"Do you have a good idea?"
"Eder and I will explore the cave first."
"Won't it be dangerous?"
"We can always run away if it's too much for us," Kang Oh said confidently. Few people could push him around!
"When we return, we'll share what we've seen. Based on that, you can make a decision as to whether you want to continue or retreat," Kang Oh strongly said.
"How about it?" Randelhoff stared at Book.
"I'm just thankful that Mr. Kang Oh and Mr. Eder are willing to take that risk for us," Book said immediately.
"I will obey your orders, Chieftain," Igriham said.
Kang Oh and Eder entered the cave, and disappeared from sight.
* * *
"Oh light." A sphere of light floated from Eder's palm, illuminating their surroundings.
"Hmm. It looks normal..."
Aside from how large it was, there wasn't anything that stood out. Stalactites lined the ceiling and a few bats hung from them. Thus far, it was definitely a 'normal cave'.
"I don't sense any monsters or a particular flow of mana," Eder said.
"Let's keep going. Keep your guard up. You never know what might show up."
Kang Oh and Eder kept on moving. There was only one path forward, and nothing unusual happened.
"This is the exit."
At some point, they found the cave's exit. Kang Oh and Eder carefully approached the exit, and slightly peeked through.
It was a vast clearing! The floor was white, and square/triangular patterns lined the floor. The ceiling itself was dome-shaped. They didn't see a single monster there, nor did they see a passageway that led someplace else.
There was some sort of device in the center of the room.
"It doesn't look dangerous, does it?" Kang Oh looked around warily.
"For now, that is," Eder replied.
Kang Oh and Eder exited the passageway and made their way to the center of the room, where the device lay.
"What do you think this is?" Eder asked.
The device appeared to be a giant yellow bowl. There was a sharp, thick needle inside, much like a clock hand. Letters he had never seen before were engraved on the bowl's surface as well.
"Feels like something will happen if you turn the needle, but... Let's not do anything for now."
If they fiddled with it and something went wrong, then they may not be able to handle it.
"A wise decision." Eder nodded his head.
After that, the two carefully examined the clearing.
"It's completely clean."
"Yeah, there's nothing here. Let's go back."
The expedition force went through the cave, and arrived at the clearing.
"This is it." Kang Oh pointed at the yellow bowl.
"This is..." It seemed like Randelhoff knew something about it.
"This is that device." Book did too.
"What is it exactly?" Eder asked.
"It's an elevator. I've seen it in Inarius's lair before," Randelhoff said.
"An elevator? So this entire room is a giant elevator?" Kang Oh asked.
"That's right. If you move the needle around, then the elevator will activate."
"Hmm. Then what do we do now? Shall Eder and I use the elevator first, and see what's there?"
Kang Oh wanted to continue exploring the heart no matter what.
"No. You've already risked your lives for us once, so we'll return the favor this time. I'll activate the elevator," Randelhoff said.
"If things go poorly, we should be able to use the elevator to reverse course and come back here," Book said.
He came to this conclusion because he'd seen the elevator in Inarius's lair used several times before.
"Then, I'm activating the elevator." Randelhoff turned the needle clockwise with his thick hands.
It sounded like a spring.
The squares and triangles on the white floor began to sink.
* * *
The floor finally stopped descending. They were surrounded by lava. It was as if they were trapped on a deserted island.
"It's just lava. I don't see any roads."
The Dwarven Warriors commented. Their expressions stiffened, and they tensed up.
All of a sudden, a large amount of lava surged into the air.
"W-What is that?"
"What's going on?"
They were confused by the sudden lava geyser.
"Who dares trespass into my domain!?" A giant entity revealed itself from within the surging lava.
[You are the first to discover the Enraged Great Lava Spirit, Magnium.]
Its upper body was at least 20 meters tall! It was as though its body was covered in reddish brown land, which had long since dried out due to a drought! Black smoke rose from the cracks, and scarlet lava flowed out as well.
The spirit's head, or what he assumed was its head, was spherical, and two horns protruded from it. Bracelets studded with multi-colored gems covered its thick arms. Most of its lower body remained within the lava.
Kang Oh's face hardened. It was his worst nightmare; a boss monster had suddenly shown up! To make matters worse, it had to be a raid boss based on its size and power.
"The dungeon's master!" Randelhoff's voice shook.
"Chieftain, the elevator!" Book, who'd barely managed to keep a level head, yelled.
"Aah!" Randelhoff quickly turned the needle counterclockwise. They needed to get out of here!
Creak. Creak. Creak.
It made the same spring noise, but the white floor didn't move at all.
"This is bad. The elevator won't work!" Randelhoff yelled desperately.
Now, Book couldn't help but panic. The other Dwarven Warriors were a mess too.
"Burn to cinders!" Magnium raised its right arm, readying itself for a downward strike.
A violently spinning blast of darkness struck Magnium right in the middle. Kang Oh had used Everlasting Darkness.
A 'boom' echoed through the room.
"Get a hold of yourselves! Focus on dodging the boss monster's attacks for now!" Kang Oh yelled.
Randelhoff and Book had panicked, so they were in no shape to command the dwarves. Thus, he had no choice but to do it himself.
Kang Oh managed to get through to them. The Dwarven Warriors began to regain their composure. Randelhoff and Book did too.
"Warriors, stay strong." Randelhoff raised his voice.
"Its attack is coming. Everyone, dodge!" Book yelled.
Magnium swung its fist. It was quite slow, so dodging it was an easy task.
The floor shook violently upon contact. A few dwarves fell on their backs, and began sliding towards the lava.
"Help your brothers so that they don't fall into the lava!" Kang Oh yelled.
"Grab my hand!"
"Get over here!"
The dwarves formed groups of two or three and supported each other.
"Hmph, you worms!" Magnium swung its fist once more.
"Attack now!" Kang Oh yelled.
Eder raised his scythe into the air. Three white clumps of bone floated above his head.
They crashed into Magnium's body, as if they were boulders launched by a catapult. Eder didn't stop there. He immediately summoned a giant bone scythe and swung downwards.
"Futile!" Magnium opened its hand and grabbed the bone scythe. Crack. It instantly broke the bone scythe to pieces.
"Explode!" Eder said drearily.
This resulted in a huge explosion. White bone fragments embed themselves all over Magnium's body. Eder cast another Bone Bomb right after.
"Die, you monster!"
"Taste my hammer!"
The Dwarven Warriors bashed Magnium's giant body with their hammers.
Magnium swung its fist once more.
"Stop! Protect yourselves!" Kang Oh yelled.
The ground shook violently, causing the ground to tilt. A few of the dwarves began to fall, but their brothers grabbed a hold of them, keeping them safe.
"You're all doing good. Keep it up!" Randelhoff screamed at the top of his lungs.
Kang Oh was practically commanding the expedition force, so he was raising their spirits by cheering them on.
"Lava, sweep through everything!" Magnium said. Then, a wave of lava came rushing at them from one side.
"A lava wave is coming!" Book yelled.
"Mr. Book, find a place that's safe from the lava. Everyone, follow Mr. Book!" Kang Oh yelled.
"Understood. Everyone, follow me!" Book assessed the lava wave and took his position. The rest of the dwarves gathered around him.
The lava wave devoured a third of the white floor and then disappeared. But now, the affected area was filled with lava crystals. At the same time, Lava Spirits popped out everywhere.
Kang Oh immediately came to a decision. "Stop the Lava Spirits! Don't let them absorb the lava crystals!"
He already had his hands full fighting Magnium, so he really didn't want to fight named Lava Spirits too. Thus, he had no choice but to kill the Lava Spirits first.
"Leave it to us!"
The Dwarven Warriors dashed towards the Lava Spirits.
"Randelhoff, Igriham, Eder, and I will deal with the boss. Mr. Book, please lead the warriors in my place," Kang Oh quickly said.
"Leave it to me."
Randelhoff and Igriham headed towards Magnium. Meanwhile, Eder began summoning another bone mass again.
'We're back on track...' Kang Oh's eyes gleamed.
The boss had appeared without warning, causing the Dwarven Warriors to panic. But with Kang Oh's direction, they were barely able to turn things around.
However, this was only the beginning. They still had a long road ahead of them.Previous Chapter Next Chapter