18. Every Dungeon Needs a Puzzle

    “It’s a trap!” Q giggled, activating yet another rune trap. She had been at this for at least thirty minutes,but wasn’t tired of it at all.

    When the group descended the stairs, they found multiple rune traps with some hiding on the steps, and others on the walls or ceiling. By the time they reached the bottom the whole group had received the Rune Meister class change option. They found a total of five additional runes, which were Fire, Water, Earth, Light, and Dark. Despite their thorough search of the area they were unable to find any new Formations, only spotting the Strike formation which kept blasting them with various elements. 

    A few explosions, later they finally saw what was at the end of the stairs, which ended up being a large hallway. A cursory glance revealed that there weren’t any runes around, but with the descent being so riddled with traps the group remained cautious. The hall itself looked like it was carefully carved into the ground, with smooth flat floors and a sharp triangular ceiling overhead which contained small crystals that projected light downwards. There were also six rugged pillars acting as a natural path to a stone door. 

    By now Q was hypersensitive to any kinds of traps, both from her skill and previous experience with all the ones she’s activated already. Despite feeling nothing upon entering the area, the moment she stepped onto the floor she felt an extreme sense of danger coming off the floor. As if she had stepped on a pressurized plate, the floor lit up in colorful lights, revealing the entire floor was filled with triangular tiles which all held a rune inside.

    “I hate whoever made this.” Q’s face twitched in annoyance. “How the heck are we supposed to figure out where to step when everything is a goddamn trap!”

    “You’re right, not even my myth can see through these.” Fortis’ eyes glowed, but soon faded.

    “Maybe we climb on the pillars?” Melun pointed at the only other thing in the room that wasn’t a trap.

    Upon first glance the pillars didn’t have anything special about them, but when everyone craned their necks to get a look at the top they noticed that they weren’t actually attached to the ceiling, but rather had some sort of platform on them. 

    “That’s… interesting. The first pillar is fairly close so…” Before anyone could even blink, Q made a large leap towards the pillar to the right and clung hard onto the surface. She clambered her way up to the top, and with one last heave she got to the top. On the platform she found a floating triangle with a red inside. “Now then, what are you used for…?”

    “Q what the heck!?” For a split second Kukis looked worried, but that quickly gave way to annoyance. “Did you even check if that pillar had handholds?”

    “It’s fiiine~ Anyway, check out what I got,” Q showed the triangle in her hands, “I don’t know what it’s used for, but the game system didn’t display item details when I picked it up so I’m assuming it’s used to solve a puzzle in this room.”

    “It sorta looks like a film filter. Try holdin’ it up to a light.” Aeryn pointed towards one of the light crystals. Q did as she asked, and one of the light sources was dyed red. Whenever the light touched any Fire runes they would fade and dissipate. As an experiment Q tried moving away the filter and the Fire runes would return. There wasn’t anything she could fasten it to, nor could she find something to fasten it with, so Q was stuck holding up the filter.

    “Looks like we have our solution. Is anyone good at climbing?” Verne asked. 

    As it turned out only Melun and Neira had any ability to climb up a sheer surface. They both managed to get up on a pillar of their own and using the triangles they found up there, they shone a blue and green light which cleared out more of the runes on the ground. This wasn’t enough to clear the path so they ended up resorting to some tricks. Myriad Myths allowed players to trade with each other at a distance, and they used this to give ropes to the players on the pillars, pulling up the others who couldn’t climb on their own. Then they climbed on the other pillars and were able to activate all six lights.

    As their light overlapped the swirling colors mixed together and created a bright light which almost seemed to ‘cleanse’ the room. It grew larger and larger, eventually clearing the floor of traps. At this point the filters disappeared and a window appeared in front of all the players who held up a filter.

You have received a reward for completing this puzzle.

Basic Fire Spell: Ember
Ember
Deals weak fire damage.
Cost: 5 SP

    “Hey Fortis, Leslee, you guys missed out on a freebie!” Q yelled from atop her pillar. 

    “Ahaha, it’s fine. I’m sure there are other surprises to be had. Come on Leslee, let’s head to that door.”

    “…zzz… Wha- huh?” Leslee snapped out of his daze and looked around the room. “Oh… gratz’ on finishing the puzzle… Q, can I sleep on you again?”

    “Eh, sure, why not?” Q slid down from her pillar in a smooth motion and allowed Leslee’s myth to take over. The bubble enveloped Leslee and he quickly fell into a deep slumber. “Okay everyone, let’s go!” 

The group was able to reach the door unimpeded and once they got within a few meters of the door it opened up on its own. Peering inside they found a dark room with what appeared to be a raised podium at the back. Atop the podium was a faintly glowing book. Most importantly there was a large, unmoving figure that sat in front of the podium, but its features were indiscernible.

Now it feels like a proper dungeon! There’s a monster, some mystery, and loot!” Q grinned.

“I’ve been itchin’ to get some action done.” Melun showed a grin as wide as Q’s. “All this thinkin’ and puzzlin’ just ain’t for me. If I were alone I would’a charged in and died a long time ago.”

“That’s actually an interesting point Melun,” Fortis began, “seeing as the previous puzzle required at least six people to solve. Unless someone knew about it beforehand and prepared some glue or tape, or was in a party they wouldn’t be able to get by. Well… unless they’re cheating of course. Furthermore, considering that this is all a prerequisite to unlock the Rune Meister class it must mean that the class either needs knowledge and preparation, or cooperation from teammates to work.”

“An astute observation detective.” Verne nudged him slightly with his elbow.

“It’s elementary, my dear-” 

Just as Fortis was about to finish his quip, the room in front of them lit up and the large figure was revealed. It was a humanoid structure made of metal and stone, and it slowly stood up as its own body began to emit a colorful glow. With the lights surrounding it, it’s form became clear. The thing looked like a mixture between a knight and a dog as its main body was human and covered completely in sturdy-looking armor, while its head looked like a doberman dog chiseled out of granite stone. The center of its chest was an empty cavity, but the lights began to gather towards it and formed multiple runes, eventually settling into what Q recognized as earth.

[Rune Knight] – Level 25

 Seeing this golem-like creature stand up gave Q a strong sense of déjà vu, but it also gave her an idea as to where to hit it. “Aim for the joints, head and chest! Everyone, let’s go!!” 

Without an inkling of a plan, Q directly charged forward and got the first hit in, hitting it square in the chest with her staff and an added [Spark] for good measure. The Rune Knight didn’t take this kindly, as it reacted by thrusting its arm forward, as if to grasp something. In the next moment the ground underneath it swelled up and formed the shape of a staff. The Rune Knight grabbed it with one hand, and the moment its hand made contact with it the rune in its chest changed to Fire. It then drew a circle over the fire rune with its free hand, which somehow set the entire staff ablaze. All of this was done in a smooth motion, and the entire party was left flabbergasted, then wide-eyed at its next action.

The Rune Knight swung at Q who was in the midst of retreating. Just as the staff was about to make contact, a pair of hammers flew by and hit the Rune Knight’s staff and arm, altering its trajectory and allowing Q to escape a direct hit. Despite this the flame still singed her face and she took a sliver of damage from it. 

“Thanks Cookie!” 

“Damnit Q, at least come up with a plan first!” Kukis yelled as she recalled her hammers. 

At this point the rest of the party (minus Leslee) shot into action, each using their various attacks and spells against the Rune Knight. Facing the onslaught of magic and steel, the Rune Knight lowered its head slightly and its eyes seemed to narrow as the rune on its chest instead changed into Earth. In addition to that it used its free hand to draw a square overtop the rune, and it’s finger left a floating line behind. Once the square was completed it seemed to react to the Earth rune, and with a flick of the wrist the Rune Knight conjured a wall of stone to block all of their attacks. 

Q, Verne and Neira had the displeasure of getting their weapons stuck in the wall as it formed and they tried to pull them out, but the Rune Knight wouldn’t let up so easily. With a mighty leap it reached a height that was frankly unreasonable for all the weight that a being made of stone and metal would have, and jumped over its own wall in order to hit the ground with a devastating slam. The players surrounding it were blown away, while the ones in the back tried to stabilize themselves from the tremors that traveled through the ground. 

The Rune Knight looked up and chose to target the closest person – Melun, who for some reason was close to the vanguard despite using a bow. In a panic Melun forgot to draw her bow and instead used the new spell she obtained. “[Breeze]!”

This little slip up ended up bringing her a benefit, as upon being hit by this gentle gust of wind the Rune Knight froze in place for a moment and the rune on its chest began to shift again. 

“Oh duh. Opposing elements! Okay, now we coordinate! Aeryn, now’s a perfect time to practice your myth!” Q yelled as she joined Neira and Verne in grabbing the Rune Knight’s attention while they tried to figure out what its next rune would be. The next rune that appeared was Light, prompting Kukis to take a step forward. 

“Looks like it’s my-” Her sentence was interrupted as the Rune Knight slammed down the butt of its staff and created a bright light that was almost like a flashbang. Everyone reflexively covered their eyes, and during this moment of blindness they heard the distinct sound of something getting hit. This was followed by a shout, and then another impact.

By the time they regained their vision they saw Q collapsed on the ground beside Kukis, while Neira blocked the Rune Knight’s attack with her shield. Fortis quickly went about healing both injured parties while Kukis hurriedly knelt down beside Q. “Woah, Q, are you alright? It didn’t hit you that hard right? Hey, Q? Q?!” She began slapping Q in the face in an attempt to get her to wake up, but she remained unresponsive. Just as Kukis began to panic she heard a groggy voice come from behind her.

“Ugh… that was a rude wake-up call.” Leslee slowly picked himself off of the ground and took a moment to scan his surroundings. 

“Leslee! Your myth!” Kukis suddenly understood why Q wasn’t waking up. “Can you undo it somehow?” 

“… I don’t think so.” Leslee waved his arm around in the air as he looked through his system windows. “But it’s okay, it’ll only take a minute for her to wake up. In the meanwhile…” His gaze drifted over to the Crios Blades who were able to stop the Rune Knight’s movements with a timely dark-type spell from Aeryn.

“I guess I’ll help out? It’s too noisy to fall asleep anyway.” Leslee opened up his inventory and brought out a slingshot and what appeared to be spiky seed pods. He lazily swung his arm around a few times before letting it go with a yawn. Surprisingly, despite his overall careless attitude the seed pods flew straight and true, sticking onto the Rune Knight’s armor, and a few of them even got between its joints. 

The Rune Knight’s movements visibly slowed down as it attempted to move with the pods in the way, but the other players used this as an opportunity to attack. It had only been about thirty seconds since the battle began, but the Crios Blades soon found a flow they could work with. Verne and Neira would impede the Rune Knight by tackling it or deflecting its weapon while Melun kept striking its head with her arrows. Fortis continually healed and created barriers on the two acting as vanguard, while also simultaneously giving Aeryn instructions on which element she should cast next. Bombarded by all these attacks, the Rune Knight was steadily worn down, and soon after collapsed into a pile of rubble.

“…snrk… no… not the rag! You can’t… AAAH!” Q shot up with a start, just waking up from what was apparently a horrible nightmare. “Oh… I was sleeping. I can’t believe I dreamed about that thing… Wait, why was I asleep? Is the fight already over?” She unconsciously voiced all of this out before realizing that the fight was already over, while Kukis was giving her a look of disdain.

“Looks like sleeping beauty finally decided to wake up, huh?” 

“Woah wait up a second, that was definitely because of Leslee’s myth! I would never get knocked out from a hit to the stomach! In fact, I felt that it was going to attack me so just before I got hit I made sure to pre-emptively jump backwards!”

“Suuuuure…” 

“No way! Don’t question my martial prowess of all things!!” Q started to look genuinely upset, so Kukis decided to relent as she offered her a hand.

“Okay okay, I believe you. Come on princess, it’s time to get up.”

“I… yeah.” Q got up at the same time the rest of the party gathered together. “Sorry about that guys. Didn’t expect the backlash to happen so suddenly.”

“I’m also a little sorry… but mainly miffed that my nap got interrupted.” Leslee rubbed his eyes.

“It happens to the best of us, don’t worry about it.” Verne gave a refreshing smile.

“More importantly, check out tha’ rewards! We finally get to see the Rune Meister class!” Melun jumped up and down in excitement.

At this point Q noticed her notifications were flashing, and pressing on it brought up her rewards from this fight. 

Battle Rewards
Obtained 200 experience!
Learned [Sense Danger]
Obtained [Rune Shards x6], [Golem Fragments x5]
You have cleared the conditions to unlock the [Rune Meister] class!
A Rune Meister is a magic oriented class that uses runes in a variety of combinations to create a myriad of different effects. In order to change your class to Rune Meister, you must find a grimoire containing information on runes or another Rune Meister that is willing to teach you. 




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