It was dark inside the ruins, almost pitch black. Torimm struggled to see through the veil of shadow. She had just enough perception to make out the floor, roof and walls. Although she found herself constantly tripping over things. Or that could’ve just been her own feet. Damn this darkness
, she mumbled to herself. And where is that idiot-
“Torimm, what are you doing?”
Torimm nearly screamed, it took all of her willpower not to. Instead all that came out was a little eeep!
followed by a soft chuckle from somewhere in the darkness.
“Don’t scare me like that!” she snapped, embarrassed by the foolish squee she made.
She swung her arm to punch him but instead hit a wall, rocking the old foundations.
“I’m over here,” Arcon said casually, suppressing another chuckle.
“I can’t see...” Torimm growled back in frustration.
“I told you you should’ve gotten that spell or at least put some more points into perception,” Arcon sighed. “Come on, it’s this way.”
He pulled Torimm by her shoulder plate into a bigger room.
“Hey!” she protested, while hopping along, trying not to fall over her feet.
The larger room expanded far beyond what she could see but she could feel its vast halls, the emptiness whispered to her. The hairs on her neck stood up sending a chill down her spine. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it but something was off about this place. She looked around suspiciously sniffing the air, like she expected something to jump out at them.
“Smells like death,” she mumbled, shivering involuntary and rubbing her arms.
“And what does death smell like?” Arcon’s voice came out of the shadows.
“Cold and lifeless,” Torimm shrugged.
“Right, right,” Arcon replied sarcastically.
He turned his attention back to the huge chamber, ignoring the noise Torimm made as she shuffled about. His eyes followed the far wall all the way up to the curved roof. Hmm, it’s a dome.
He didn’t have trouble seeing in the dark. If this is the dome.
“Torimm, it’s a little further. There’s a door over there.”
“Great,” she growled, feeling along the wall. Open inventory
, she thought. There has to be something here.
While Torimm scratched around in her bag Arcon further inspected the room. There were large illustrations carved into the walls. He walked forward trying to make out more detail. The carvings were very old and most of the artwork had faded with time. He ran his hands over the wall feeling the grooves and etchings under his fingers. Something pulled his attention away from the carving. He stared into the darkness, frowning, but nothing was there. He continued looking at the wall moving from one carving to the next but again something distracted him. This time he swore he heard a voice. A gentle breeze drifted by him. Maybe it was just the wind
, he shrugged.
Torimm finally pulled something that emitted light from her pack.
“Knew I had something!” She grinned triumphantly. The dome flooded with a light aquamarine glow.
“Arcon...” Torimm called.
“Hmm?” He turned around, glancing at the source of the glow.
To both of their surprise it was the Black Titan ring they had acquired from the beetle boss.
“Why’s it glowing?” Arcon asked cautiously, crossing the room to where Torimm was.
“I don’t know. It’s never done this before.”
Arcon looked at Torimm. She sounded worried. I think this atmosphere is just getting to the both of us
, he thought. Although, the ring still had properties and information that was shrouded with question marks. The glowing seemed to intensify. The ring’s base was still solid black stone which curved up into a gentle intricate dome, except the dome part was now bubbling with swirling blues, like a lava lamp. Arcon touched the surface of the ring, it was hot. Despite looking like it was now made of liquid, it was still solid. Arcon frowned.
“Well, what do you think?” Torimm asked. She looked like she was ready to give up on these old ruins and call it a day. Before Arcon could answer a gust of wind blazed past them followed by an echoing thud. The wind felt like ice and pierced right through their armour, chilling them to the bone. Torimm could feel her hair stand up and she shivered. With the new light, both of them looked to the far end of the room where the thud had originated from. Torimm could feel her heartbeat increase as silence ensued. There was some rustling around them, but that was just the previous breeze.
“Torimm, stop breathing so heavily,” Arcon complained, straining his ears to listen.
“What? I’m not-” she retorted.
Suddenly the titan ring blazed in Torimm’s hand and a searing pain shot up her arm. She exclaimed and dropped the ring. It skidded across the floor, lighting up random sections of the room as it bounced until it hit something and stopped. She gripped her hand and blew on the intricate brand the dome of the ring had singed into her palm.
“Ow ow ow ow,” she whimpered.
“Torimm, are you-”
Both explorers froze and looked at the ring as it was picked up.
“Arcon...” Torimm said nervously.
“I wasn’t the one breathing heavily...”
The ring rose further to illuminate an army of rotten bodies and animated skeletons. The one holding the ring growled something. It sounded like an ancient language. Blue energy sprang from the ring and empowered the first skeleton. It continued to jump until the whole dome was lit up.
“That’s a lot of skeletons,” Arcon gulped.
Suddenly they drew swords and arrows.
“And they’re not friendly!” Torimm yelled as she blocked the first attack by the skin of her teeth, extending her energy claws just in time.
Despite not having muscle the skeleton ruthlessly pushed against Torimm, forcing her to step back. Having gained some ground, the skeleton tried to knock her off balance. She cursed silently. She had been caught off guard and couldn’t get into the proper stance to counter attack. She bit her lip, this was not good. To make things worse, more skeletons attacked her from both sides. They swung their rusted swords directly at her vital spots. Torimm’s reaction was quicker this time, having recovered a bit. She dodged the one and kicked the other out of range, but forfeited more ground to the skeleton in front of her. She needed to regain her stance, but that would require breaking away from her opponent and the skeleton didn’t look like it would let her try anything. It’s hollow eye sockets stared at her, deeper than her, into her soul. It’s dusted white teeth forever grinning at her. It made her skill crawl.
“Torimm, we need to retreat,” Arcon said next to her, fending off three skeletons at once.
“Right!” She shouted back, over the noise of the skeleton’s eerie whispering and clanging of aged metal.
She charged mana into her claws and blasted the skeleton in front of her with a mini shockwave. It clattered to pieces and it’s sword fell to the ground with a loud bang. Torimm kicked away two more advancing skeletons and Arcon finished off the group that had surrounded him. The skeletons didn’t let them rest for long. They swarmed in, closing the temporary gap nearly instantly.
“Close your eyes!” Torimm yelled.
Despite the approaching skeleton horde, Arcon obediently did as Torimm asked. Darkness enveloped him and he could only rely on his other senses. Suddenly there was a bright light and a loud smash that shook the floor. Arcon opened his eyes to see all the skeletons in pieces and a large radial crack below Torimm. She had used her Power Smash
spell. He grinned. The room was quiet, the only thing that could be heard was a gentle wind and their breath.
“Well, that worked,” Arcon mused.
“Not for long,” Torimm breathed.
She pointed to the massive pile of bones. They started crawling around, trying to find their partner. It was a truly horrifying sight: rib cages, spines, jaws, cracked pieces of skull, fingers and legs moving on their own like a swarm of insects climbing over each other. The two were only giving moments to formula an action plan.
“What now?” asked Torimm, narrowing her eyes at the rattling graveyard.
“The back door. Let’s go,” Arcon replied quickly as he pointed to the door at the far end of the room.
She nodded and ran for it, activating Swift Step
. She barreled through the narrow archway and bounded down the frail stairs. Arcon followed, but took one last look before he disappeared down the passageway. A blue mist had now appeared around the skeletons and it appeared to be powering them, helping them rebuild themselves. Arcon looked past that, the entrance that they had come through was strangely sealed. Damn it. Looks like we’ll have to find another way out.
Arcon caught up with Torimm by activating his own version of Swift Step called Shadow Run. Soon they were running side by side.
“Plan?” Torimm asked.
“Well, we’ll have to find another way out, the other one’s closed.”
“Yeah, because it’s blocked by a mass of animated bones that want to kill us,” Torimm said jokingly. Why does this always happen to us?
Arcon could tell that she was slightly worried. At least this time she had cause to be. Their opponent was an army of the undead and by the looks of it they would just get back up again. Unlike us
, he grit his teeth.
And to make matters even worse they were running further into the maze of ruins and further away from the surface. They continued to run, only the sound of their thundering footsteps broke the silence. Suddenly a thought occurred to him.
“Torimm, can you see?”
“Nope, not at all. I’m just running-”
But it was too late, Torimm ran head first into a low arch way. A whole section of the rock broke off at the speed she was running and she landed flat on her back.
“Seriously!” She bellowed at the darkness and gripped her nose.
You take 460 damage.
You are stunned.
You are disoriented for 5 minutes.
“Good thing you’re the tank,” Arcon joked and knelt down to help her. “Status effect?”
“Stunned,” she moaned, blinking the stars out of her vision.
As Torimm rose, slightly resting her weight on Arcon for support, they both stopped. A faint noise was echoing from somewhere, it bounced around the long hall so it was difficult to discern its origin. It sounded like the light pitter patter of rain. Both of them frowned. It steadily grew louder. At the end of the long corridor blue glowing miss drifted silently over the steps. Arcon’s eyes widened as he registered the noise. It wasn’t rain, but instead the clatter of bones on cold stone.
“Are you fine to run?” Arcon quickly turned to Torimm. Their attackers would be here soon and fighting in a small space like this would favour neither of them.
“Yes,” she replied. “But I could just run into something else.”
“Don’t worry about that, just run.”
Torimm was unsure, but she obediently continued to run. The blue mist had already reached their ankles, swirling past them almost trying to wrap around them. Just up ahead the passage opened up into a massive arena. Arcon Grabbed a torch off the wall and lit it with a Spark spell. The cobwebs around the torch quickly burnt up, helping to ignite the head of the torch. Arcon threw the lit torch onto a raised platform and it burst into flames, showering part of the room with a flickering yellow light.
“What the?” Torimm remarked, blinking to adjust her eyes to the sudden brightness.
“Fire powder,” Arcon explained.
“How did you know?”
“The carvings on the wall. They showed this room with huge torches.”
“Nice,” nodded Torimm, impressed.
“Okay, game plan,” Arcon said seriously. “I think the ring might be powering them.”
“So we get the ring back,” Torimm grinned, looking at the wide space they were in. She could finally move around.
“It won’t be easy, they can regenerate.”
“It’s never easy, but when did that stop us before?” Torimm grinned as she readied her stance.
Arcon laughed and shifted his daggers. The skeletons would be here soon, but this time they were prepared. The clattering noise grew louder and boomed out of the narrow passage. The first skeleton tore through the dark veil of the passage entrance. Torimm blew it to pieces with a claw energy blast. It shattered to the ground, but more skeletons poured through the archway, not even phased at their comrade's demise. They hissed at the two adventurers and advanced without fear, the blue mist flowing out of their eye sockets and hollow jaws, drifting between their ribs and falling from their bones to the floor. It soon reached Torimm’s feet, it was ice cold, but other than the uncomfortable change in temperature it didn’t seem to affect her. Seems like it only works on the dead
, she noted.
The skeletons quickly engaged her in combat, three of them running at her with their swords. Torimm took a deep breath and felt her mana pulse through her. She blocked, dodged and attacked, in that order and then repeated the movement. While Torimm had her hands full with the bladed skeletons, Arcon went for the archers. Torimm was good, but she couldn’t concentrate on fighting while also blocking a wave of arrows. Arcon melted into shadow and burst out again in the back lines. He swiftly cut the archers down. Some of them ran for cover or tried to put some distance between them, but Arcon simply followed through the shadows. The torch suddenly blazed down a new path. It traced the groove of Fire Powder to the next large torch and set that one alight. It swiftly moved onto the next torch, travelling all the way around the arena. In the distance, Torimm and Arcon fought off the scurrying horde. They were growing tired and some the defeated skeletons were already starting to come back.
With the arena now fully lit, Torimm dare a look around. There was a centerpiece, it looked like a huge statue, surrounded by a circular pit. Even with the powerful torches the light couldn’t illuminate the depths of the pit. Which made Torimm wonder what was down there. She gulped. As if to answer her question, a icy screech echoed from the pit and a wave of frost emanated from the darkness, blowing across the whole arena. The skeletons stop attacking and lowered their weapons so look at the bubbling darkness. Arcon flashed to Torimm’s side.
“Boss battle,” Torimm repeated, not taking her eyes off the dark cavern.
A black mist shot up and surrounded the large statue in the middle of the arena. It swirled around for a few seconds and then it looked like the statue breathed it in. The mist was completely absorbed by the statute followed by a stone grinding sound, similar to that of a sharpening wheel. The statue came to life and drew its massive archaic sword. It cracked open its jaw and let out an ear piercing roar, black mist with speckles of turquoise flowed from its mouth.
A fallen warrior imprisoned to guard the entrance to a realm unknown.
Potential to inflict fear 70%
Potential to inflict cursed debuff 70%
Potential to trap soul 90%
Torimm gulped. That does not sound good
. The skeletons raised their weapons in praise and cheered their leader on. It was fully clad in armour, with rune symbols etched into it. They glowed the same colour as its eye sockets and the mist. It was cloaked in a heavy black material that almost looked like flowing shadow. It jumped forward and stuck Torimm. She transformed to her wolf form to better handle its strike, but she was still pushed back. Her claws struggled against the ancient blade. Sweat beaded her forehead. Its cloak drifted unnaturally in wind that wasn’t there. Torimm struggled against the skeleton boss as it pushed her back more and more. It stared at her in a way that made her feel it could see everything about her, her memories, her thoughts, everything. She could feel its black mist swirl around her, making her body cold and slightly numb. A fear passive
, she thought. She activated Sound Mind
and Howling Will
and glared right back at the Skeleton King. It seemed to falter a bit at Torimm’s unbreaking nerve and that gave her an opportunity to push back a bit, but the Skeleton King soon recovered and pushed back even harder.
Arcon dashed around the arena. That thing had come out of nowhere and he had just managed to jump away in time thanks to his cat form, but Torimm looked like she was struggling even in her wolf form. He frowned at the giant skeleton that had lept from the middle of the arena, trying to find a weak spot. Suddenly he noticed a strange object resting on the skeleton’s head. It looked like a crown woven out of black glass. Arcon remembered the ring and how it glowed and bubbled. The crown did the same. That must be its source of power
, he thought triumphantly.
“Torimm,” he shouted over the roar of the skeleton crowd. This was beginning to look like an underground fighting ring. “Get the crown!”
All the skeletons looked at Arcon and the Skeleton King fixed him with a particularly nasty stare. Arcon could feel fear stab at his mind, but he cast Mental Bastion
and pushed the fear away, while still sending out his own mental attack. He doubted it would work on a boss, but he smiled when the other skeletons stopped cheering to scrap and claw at their skulls. The Skeleton King drew his sword back and hit Torimm with a heavy attack. She was knocked back completely despite her guard being up. She flew into the far wall and it shattered under the immense pressure of her impact. The Skeleton King turned to leap at Arcon but Torimm used the momentum of the attack to jump off the wall, breaking it further, and swiping at the boss. The whole wall crumbled and began to cave in. Some of the ceiling was pulled into it as well, opening up the arena to the sky. The Skeleton King staggered from her swift attack, falling to one knee and coughing up some blue glowing liquid. Blood?
“It’s getting pretty dangerous to stay here,” he said, appearing at Torimm’s side. “I suggest we finish this off and soon.”
“Oh, only starting to get dangerous?” She joked. “New Ulti’s?”
“New Ulti’s,” Arcon repeated.
“Well, you first. This is going to take some time.” Torimm said as she took up a new stance.
“As usual,” Arcon teased, while rolling his eyes.
Torimm started charging up large amounts of mana in her claws so Arcon activated his new ultimate. Summoning all the shadow in the room, he formed a large black panther behind him that followed his every move. The Skeleton King stretched out a hand and roared, still trying to recover. The other skeletons ran in to protect him, breaking apart and reforming to create a giant multi-layered bone wall. The rest swarmed Arcon, but they were no match for his drastically increased strength and speed. With each swing of his silver blade the large shadow cat swiped at the horde with its massive paws. Each attack left some shadow on the skeletons which spread like a fire, completely consuming its bones so they couldn’t reassemble. All the shadow left was dust. Arcon made quick work of the skeletons, dashing around with his amazing speed to dodge attacks or surprise strike them from an unexpected angle. Some of the skeletons began to run away in fear. On the other side of the wall the Skeleton King roared again and rose to its feet.
“Torimm!” Arcon shouted. “How’s the charging coming?”
Sweat dripped down Arcon’s face, he hadn’t perfected this technique yet and it drained him of everything. His mental capacity, his physical strength and most importantly his mana. His head pounded and his limbs trembled. The Skeleton King broke through the wall in a rage, shattering the remaining skeletons. He raised his sword to cut Arcon in two.
Arcon instinctively dropped to the floor, the cold stone felt relaxing. Torimm lept through the shadow panther with her fists and claws glowing brightly like hot metal. The Skeleton King sliced through the large shadow cat as Torimm emerged from its cover, some of the shadow slightly following after her like smoke. She was high in the air, but she still had to tuck her legs in to avoid the Skeleton King’s mighty blow. However, such a powerful attack left him wide open. Torimm landed just in front of it and she could actually see the despair of realisation on its bony face. She pressed her palms flat against the Skeleton King’s stone armor.
“Claw Nova!” She yelled, pushing all of her momentum into the attack as well. She release the large charge of mana in her claws and it blasted a gaping hole right through the Skeleton King. The entire arena was filled with a blinding flash of light and a powerful shock wave swept through the open space, crumbling nearby rocks. It shrieked in pain. Its shadow cloak split in two and all its armour shattered, blasting in all directions like shrapnel. Its remaining bony pieces fell to the floor, steaming, blowing away into dust.
Torimm breathed out heavily. She was exhausted. That attack had taken almost all of her mana and some of her health too, she arms and hands were steaming and her gauntlets looked like they had just come out of a forge.
“Claw Nova?” Arcon asked as he stood up.
“Yeah, just thought of it now.” She grinned.
A loud clang caught their attention. It was the black glass crown. Torimm bent down to pick it up. It dissolved at her touch and jumped to her head neatly forming an intricate shadowy tiara, with aquamarine gems adorning it.
“Whoa...” she said shocked. “Guess it auto-equips.”
“Ah, man a tiara?” Arcon complained. “What happened to the crown?”
The tiara looked like it was constantly moving but at the same time it was frozen solid. Torimm instantly felt better and checked its status.
Black Jeweled Titan TiaraAwesome!
Part 1 of the Black Titan armour set.
Replenishes mana and vitality by 30%. Can stack with other replenishing abilities.
Increased perception in darkness by 20%.
Torimm thought and grinned.
“How come I didn’t get anything?”
“What about that?” Torimm pointed to a smokey shadow lying on the floor.
Arcon approached it and picked it up. It too lept to his shoulders and stretched until it nearly touched the floor.
“Hey, the shadow cloak,” Arcon said excitedly.
Skeleton King Shadow Cloak
Part ?? of the ?? armour set.
Grants user the ability to heal and regenerate mana if in complete shadow.
“Okay, that’s better.”
“Well, overall, I think that was a successful dungeon run,” Torimm smiled.
“Yeah, it was. Let’s head back, we deserve a rest after this.”
Another ping caught their attention. Something approached them bouncing along the floor. Arcon bent down to scoop it up.
“Hey, the ring,” he flicked it to Torimm.
“Oh, sweet,” she exclaimed. “I thought we had lost that.”
She caught the ring and held it up to the light filtering through the ceiling. It sparkled happily and had stopped boiling.
“You should equip it,” he suggested. “You’ve got more of the set now.”
“Thanks,” she beamed and put on the ring.
“Now I think it’s time we had a rest.”
“I agree,” Torimm sighed. “Looks like we’ll have to find another way out though.”
She pointed to the archway they had come through, it was completely covered up from the collapsed ceiling.
“Guess we’ll have to climb up there,” Acron pointed to the open roof of the arena.
“That looks dangerous.”
“Since when is anything we do not dangerous?”
The two made their way toward the crumbled wall laughing at Acron’s joke.