Editor: A s h e s
Currently, I was on the eighth level of the Wolf Fang Labyrinth. The eighth level was also an undead zone, but the monsters here came out as a mixture of zombies, skeletons, and labyrinth bats. Thanks to the trustworthy 1-1 in my hands, the groups of zombies and skeletons had been burned down and I was able to reach the Spring. I took a long-ish break there to have dinner and a quick nap before I headed down to the ninth level in the middle of the night.
At first, I had planned to make it to the 18th level, but it would be impossible at this speed. Two days later, I had to go to the Royal Capital with the Marida Company’s caravan as their guard. So the plan had changed: I would only head down to the eleventh level to see the structural change before I returning to the surface.
I activated the TSS and brought the Dorchester out of the garage. I still camped in the Spring, but this was to get a better rest both physically and mentally. I sat a chair in the Dorchester’s living space, had dinner, and slept on the chair with my legs stretched out on the desk. I wanted to lie down, but the bed was just as hard as the labyrinth floor. Next time, I would get a futon or a sleeping bag to get a good night’s sleep.
I dozed off for around four hours before I woke. I checked the surroundings outside through the peephole just in case. As before, I was the only one inside the Spring. I put the car back into the garage and washed my face in the Spring to clear away the sleep that still lingered. I carried the flamethrower on my back and readied my gear such as my sidearm, its magazine, and my combat knife. Then I headed down to the 9th level.
Once passed the spring, stronger monsters appeared, as if they were leveled up. I became more cautious and got ready for surprise attacks from the ceiling. I advanced with the flamethrower’s nozzle at the ready and kept the crosshairs pointed in the direction I was going. The enemies also seemed to have noticed me, and out of three, two ran towards me. I stopped in my tracks and waited for them to appear. They would be roasted the moment I saw them!
Together with the moans, two glass wolf zombies jumped out from around the corner where I had trained my crosshairs on. I squeezed the trigger when I confirmed what they were, and flaming jellied gasoline spewed on them. Together with the smell of burnt flesh, the zombie wolves writhed about as they frantically tried to put out the flames, but the flames couldn’t be put out like that. Their bodies were slowly destroyed. Once I had confirmed they had sunk into the floor, I moved forward to check on the late-comer.
I turned the corner, and what in front of me definitely was a zombie, but it was nothing like the monsters I had seen on the upper levels. Its face was swollen with a dark tinge and its abdomen was strangely bloated. It looked like it was diseased. This was a higher-ranked zombie that I had seen inside the monster book… It was called an Illness Zombie. I didn’t attack immediately and while I was still observing it, it bent backward…
It spat a dark murky green liquid at me.
“Here it comes!”
I reflexively turned back around the corner and avoided a direct hit, but the zombie’s spit attack (?) splashed into my vicinity, despite a 10-meter distance.
It was the same type of attack as my flamethrower. The blackish green liquid splashed about in the passageway. Was it venom? At any rate, it didn’t look like something pleasant to be covered in. Before it spewed again, I jumped out of the corner to avoid stepping in the liquid and sprayed flames at it. It did seem to have more endurance than normal zombies, but once the skin caught fire, it burned down, and green liquid burst outward from its body.
“I need to be careful with these things…”
I unconsciously muttered. I opened the monster book in the TSS and searched for information about illness zombies. This blackish green liquid was indeed a kind of venom. It would melt skin and cause immense burning pain when it came in direct contact… Was it acidic?
How did normal adventurers take that thing down? The illness zombies had their mana stones in their heads and they could be defeated by decapitation, but once the head was cut off, the venom would burst out as the body collapsed. So you had to get away in time in order not to get sprayed in the face. Even to me, someone who had a special way to attack from a 10-meter distance, illness zombies were something that needed special attention.
The zombie sunk into the labyrinth, but the mana stone it left behind… The venom still hadn’t vanished. It seemed like it took some time for the labyrinth to absorb the venom it had spat out the first time as well as the pool that formed where its body had been. I gave up on collecting the mana stone that lay in the venom and went on.
After that, there were several more battles and I burned down the filthy monsters on my way. Then I saw something like a large room with multiple light dots wriggling inside. They sounded like skeletons, but slightly heavier. I peeked inside from the room’s entrance and confirmed there were twelve skeletons inside, but the twelve of them did not stay in a group together. Six of them branched out, and the scene looked like a party of adventurers resting inside a Spring.
I observed both groups’ formations and noticed they weren’t normal skeletons, but higher-ranked ones. Each group had two skeleton fighters that wore leather armor, one archer, two mages, and one guard carrying a large shield. What should I do… If they were not undead, I would have thrown a flashbang inside to disorient them before I took them down. However, skeletons didn’t have eyeballs or ears. They perceived things some other way.
I considered how I would attack them and came up with two methods. One was to attack from the entrance to cut down their numbers. The second was to use the TH3 to strike first then charged in to attack. I also wanted to gain different experiences, so maybe I should try both…?
First, I aimed at the area near the entrance and made full use of the flamethrower’s 40-meter range.
The first group sat in a circle as if they were resting around a campfire. I placed my crosshairs on the back of the skeleton archer and squeezed the trigger. I glided the crosshairs side to side over the circle as I sprayed. The closest ones to me, the archer and the two fighters, were burned down. The three further away were also hit, but the skeleton guard’s shield had deflected the flame. Was it made from steel? it didn’t burn.
However, the large shield couldn’t cover the guard’s entire body. I put the crosshairs on the feet that jutted out from below the shield and burned the area around its ankles. The guard was standing, protecting the two mages with its large shield, but with its ankles on fire, it couldn’t maintain its stance and crouched down on its knees instead. It also couldn’t hold the shield up straight, and its body was exposed. Without delay, I sprayed fire on its chest where the mana stone was located.
Briefly protected by the guard, the two mages behind it had managed to chant their spells. Black spheres around 30cm big rose up from the left and right sides of the burning skeleton guard and flew at me. I immediately slid-jumped out of the room to dodge. The moment the sound of the spells crashing into the wall echoed, I slid-jumped back to the entrance and attacked the moment I crossed it.
The guard had been engulfed in flames, but the moment I crossed into the entrance, an arrow from the archer in the other group flew at me. The other group was behind the two mages. Staying on the threshold with my back to the entrance, I leaned over to peek inside, then aimed at the remaining two mages and squeezed the trigger at once. I wasn’t sure if they had put up a magic barrier or not, but my flame didn’t carry any magic and couldn’t be stopped by a magic barrier.
After I burnt down the first six skeletons, I changed my target to the other group. I peered inside the room and they seemed to have also changed their formation to be battle-ready. The guard was in the center, flanked by the fighters with the other three lined up behind them. So it was one versus six! I pulled the TH3’s pin, slid into the room and performed an axel jump before I threw the grenade. I then switched to a strafe jump to avoid the archer’s arrows.
The grenade exploded at the guard’s feet and its shield was covered in flames within moments. The fighters on its sides also caught fire, but they could still move. I moved to the left of the group with a strafe jump, then squeezed the flamethrower’s trigger mid-air. From the height, the flaming gasoline swallowed up the left fighter and created a pool of fire at the skeletons’ feet.
I landed and placed the crosshairs on the mages behind the fighters, but an earth wall rose up from the labyrinth’s floor to block my sight.
It looked like they had realized that the magic barrier of the other mages hadn’t been able to stop my flames and to physically block the flames, the mages had conjured up an earthen wall.
The wall didn’t just block my vision. They also couldn’t see me, right? Hiding behind objects that couldn’t be penetrated like walls or boxes was a basic move in FPS, so there were many counter-measures to take against these moves. I took out another thermate grenade from my field jacket, pulled the pin, crossed over the wall and threw it at the place I thought the mages should be. The moment I threw the grenade, I saw the archer on one side of the wall aiming at me. I did a strafe jump to the left to dodge the arrow, then returned to the other side of the wall.
The mage should have burned down by now. I performed a series of strafe jumps counterclockwise and got behind the skeletons. While I jumped past them, the other mage chanted for another earth wall but missed, and the wall rose up uselessly. The archer was pulling the string on its bow when I placed the crosshair on it and sprayed. Then I glided my crosshair across them and the flame swallowed up the mage and the fighter. These three remaining skeletons were also burned down in no time.
I collected the mana stones as I watched the burnt ground. They had been able to use an earth wall to defend against the flamethrower after just one look. I couldn’t hide my surprise at the intelligence of these higher-ranked skeletons.
I refilled the flamethrower through the TSS. While I told myself to be more careful with intelligent enemies from now on, being able to beat a group of stronger monsters made me feel a sense of accomplishment like never before. Just a bit more and I would reach the ninth level. At the thought of the return, I couldn’t let myself become drunk on this victory. I gathered my thoughts and went deeper into the labyrinth.