Underground City of the Ancient Gods 1
「I’m, uhh… sorry.」Hikaru apologized.
Knowing Lavia was a bit scared, he said they were going to run away at the first sign of danger, but he just declared he was going to clear the dungeon. It didn’t take long for him to go back on his word. Lavia couldn’t help but laugh.
「It’s okay. I’d get angry too if I was in your shoes. I wanted to say you are awesome, but I can’t really do it. I was relieved that you spoke out.」
「Thanks, I guess.」
「Besides, I don’t think you’ll make a mistake. You’ll turn back once it gets too dangerous and forget about clearing the dungeon.」
「I promise. No point in clearing the dungeon if we’re dead.」
「Let’s go then.」
They were standing in front of the mausoleum. After Hikaru’s declaration, the adventurers went silent, then burst into laughter. With a “good luck”, they left and entered the dungeon before them.
Having used the regulations as a pretext, the guild personnel said he was going to allow them to enter, but he would report it to the guild. He looked displeased as he wrote something down.
Sure, go ahead and report me. I don’t really care, Hikaru thought. They were going to leave soon anyway. It only fueled his determination even more.
Although it looked like a cabin made of stone, it was definitely a mausoleum and it served as the entrance to the Underground City of the Ancient Gods. Shelves, which seemed to have had urns displayed before, lined up the walls. Cremation was a rare custom in this world. The urns were probably taken for examination.
The discovery of the dungeon itself was quite peculiar. Low-level spirit-type monsters started appearing near the roads. Since there weren’t any settlements or graveyards nearby, adventurers went out to investigate, and happened on the mausoleum.
A simple set of stairs were set up by the hole in the ground. It wasn’t technically an “entrance” to the dungeon. Back when it was discovered, it was nothing but a hole. Two hundred meters down a gentle slope was where the Underground City was located.
According to Gafrasti N. Valves, a historian, the mausoleum was not related to the Underground City in any way. The undead monsters that appeared in the place wore clothes from the Poelnxinia dynasty, a dynasty that had fallen 600 years ago, while the mausoleum was built sometime in the last hundred years.
In other words, the Underground City was built by the Poelnxinian people, and their bodies turned into undead.
Undead-type monsters drew spirits. It was mentioned in the book that perhaps undead monsters dug through the dirt for years and finally made it to the mausoleum. The thought of a monster digging tenaciously for hundreds of years filled Hikaru with dread.
Incidentally, Poelnxinia was an old term for Ponsonia, although now obsolete. At least according to Roland’s knowledge. He only had vague memories about the history of the fallen dynasty, however.
「Watch your step.」
Hikaru took the first step on the stairs then took Lavia’s hand. Lamps were installed on the walls at regular intervals, and while inadequate, enough to see. Activating Group Obfuscation, they both headed further inside.
It’s getting cold.
Hikaru felt the temperature drop. Strong, chilly wind from the depths blew past them. The walls now changed to bare rocks, wet and slippery. Sounds of water dripping could be heard. Initially, he thought 200 meters was nothing, but it surprisingly felt so far. They were both quiet. But if there was a beginning, there was always an end.
「Wow… it’s huge.」
All of a sudden, the passage came to an end, and they emerged at a stone-made house. There was a hole in the wall where the passage was connected to. Crisp, dry air entered their lungs. The floor was muddy from all the people that had gone through here. Worn-out blankets and tables were sprawled about.
A howl sounded from far away. Hikaru and Lavia looked at each other. It wasn’t a dog. A monster, or perhaps, a human.
The wooden door creaked as it opened to the pitch-black darkness. Beyond it was the beginning of the dungeon.
Lavia carried the lamp with one hand, and held Hikaru’s hand with the other.
「Let’s go.」Hikaru said. Lavia gave a nod and they both stepped out of the house.
Heavy silence descended upon them. Even a cloudy, dark night was brighter than the dungeon. It was as if the world had ended and they were the only people around.
As soon as they stepped out, the ground seemed to rise. Apparently it was a small bridge for the irrigation channel that ran through the houses, although had long dried out. They crossed the bridge and out into the dry, hard-packed road. Clouds of dust rose with each step, but it was easy to walk on.
The light of the lamp gave vision to the next house, one made out of stone, with a five-step ladder at the front that lead to its entrance. A few glances around and it was evident that every house was of the same design.
Being made of stone, the structures had stood the test of time, although most of them had their roofs collapsed. The first floor of two, three-story houses were fine. Unfortunately, most of them had been ransacked by adventurers – drawers were turned inside out, porcelain plates were smashed to pieces.
「Ugh… What is that smell?」
In the quiet underground city, Hikaru caught the stench of rotting meat.
Sensing its approach, Hikaru was quick to react and covered Lavia’s mouth. A human came from behind the house. Or what once was a human. Its eyeballs were gone and its lower lips were peeled off, exposing its yellowish teeth. The creature had a right arm, but its left arm, from the elbow down, appeared to have been torn off. Rather than walking, it looked more like it was staggering. It didn’t notice Hikaru and Lavia.
A Dead Citizen.
Dead Citizens were the lowest of the mobs among undead monsters. However, it could still prove to be troublesome. They could call for their friends. This place was a city, so it had plenty of friends around.
The Obfuscation is working well. Even with our lamp, it doesn’t see us. Not that it has eyes. It looks like not having eyes is not a problem for undead monsters. Does it have some sort of a Detection skill, then?
Hikaru thought he could bring up its Soul Board since it was technically a former human being, but it didn’t work. His Life Detection actually didn’t sense the monster, only Mana Detection was able to. Within a range of a hundred meters, he sensed twelve undead monsters, most likely Dead Citizens.
There’s quite a lot of them. I’m sure a normal adventurer can handle one of them, but it must be rough if it called for backup.
Hikaru pulled Lavia and went around the monster’s back. He drew his Dagger of Strength and thrust it into the creature’s heart – or where its heart would be. The monster trembled before collapsing to the ground. A cloud of dust rose as it dropped.
「I can kill them no problem… is what I’d like to say, but this fluid is disgusting.」
Dark liquid stuck on his blade.
「Hikaru, this is a Dead Citizen, right? So its heart is its weakness? I don’t recall reading that on the book.」
「Its mana was concentrated on its heart, so I just stabbed it.」
It was all thanks to his Mana Detection.
「So you can see the flow of mana. You might be able to use magic.」Lavia said.
「Haha. I sure hope so.」
I’m sure I can if I put points on my magic-related stats. I don’t have a lot of extra points to use, though. In any case…
Hikaru had two questions from his kill just now.
Will my soul rank go up if I kill undead monsters?
He could find out by killing a few Dead Citizens, although he didn’t really want to. Using magic was out of the question. That would only draw attention. The stench was unbearable as well.
Why are there monsters near the entrance?
That was his second question. Since its discovery five years ago, hundreds – no, thousands of adventurers had entered this dungeon. That much was clear from the ransacked houses near the entrance. It would make sense then that monsters in the area would be all cleared. And yet they ran into one immediately. The Dead Citizen was still on the ground, wearing old worn-out clothes.
Whatever. For now, we’ll just proceed deeper.
Thanks to Group Obfuscation, the Dead Citizens didn’t notice them. There were other monsters roaming about as well.
The Skeleton – a Dead Citizen that was nothing but bones. Skeleton Armor – a higher-level Skeleton well-versed in combat. It didn’t wear an actual armor, but used mana to toughen its body. The Skeleton Mage – Skeletons with staffs that could use magic. It wasn’t a problem since Hikaru could take it down before it couldn’t notice him. There were also Ghosts – spirit monsters which looked like a thick mist.
These monsters were lurking in the area. A whole lot of them, in fact. Hikaru and Lavia would come across a few of them every five minutes of walking. They usually grouped up in two or three.
For now, Hikaru resolved to just kill every last one of them. Skeletons had their mana concentrated in their skulls so he stabbed them in the head. He wasn’t sure if physical attacks worked on Ghosts, but he tried anyway. It worked; it felt like he was cutting a piece of cloth.
His first question was answered after a few kills. His soul rank went up. Though it felt remarkably slower than when he killed Goblins or Green Wolves. About five times slower. But since his goal was to raise his soul rank, he proceeded to kill more, as long as it didn’t take him too far.
Then they heard something.
「Hey, there’s more!」
「I know! Hold ‘em back!」
「This is rough!」
「Put your backs into it!」
Voices and the clash of steel rang through the darkness. In the distance, they could see a light. Five adventurers were fighting a horde of Skeletons.
「What do we do?! No matter how many we kill, they just keep on coming!」
「I told you to be more generous on the holy water!」
「They’re weak in one-on-ones, so just keep at it!」
「I’m sorry. I’m running out of mana…」
「Aah! I got bit! Damn, that hurts like hell!」
Hikaru knew who they were right away. The adventurers they met at the entrance.
It looked like they were having trouble.
「You don’t look too happy, Hikaru.」
「Really? I’m the same as always, if you ask me.」
Hikaru grabbed Lavia’s hand and they started walking towards the skirmish.