It was show time.
Instead of looking for the entrance to the third floor, I unsummoned Tyxx and searched throughout the whole second floor for the Dark Trackers’ treasury.
After an hour of such search, all I’ve got was… nothing.
Not a single clue nor a miniscule hint as to where the treasury could be.
At least it sure as hell wasn’t located in this entrance’s winding maze.
Rushing back to the hall to have a look at a bigger picture, I started thinking.
There are four entrances.
Tyxx said there were three and that the middle one was pointing towards the entrance of the third floor.
So one additional passageway was built.
If I assume that this newly built passageway contains the treasury of Dark Trackers’, then they had to “move” the middle entrance.
I entered the second one from the left, so it couldn’t be built at the place of previous first entrance from the right, nor the first one from the left.
After all, there are only four entrances.
Assuming they’ve built it in the center, then the “middle path” would have moved to either second entrance from the left, which I’ve already explored or the second one from the right, which is third one from the left side.
Even if it was from the right side, there’s only one possibility.
Second entrance from the right!
Yay, go me!
My [Mastermind] subclass didn’t even get any proficiency.
I guess it was too easy to figure out for truly crafty people…
Goddamn Eshel is always right, I am too inexperienced.
Whatever, I’ll make up with fighting spirit, or rather gambling, and courage.
Carefully encroaching onto the seemingly right path, I’ve moved with extreme caution.
Being brave had nothing to do with it, if I was not careful, then keeping enough mana to realize my plan was impossible.
One more [Three-staged shower] made me even more imbued with holy water’s exquisite light element.
Now that I think about it, this path should be the one leading to the exit.
Icicle: *Does this route seem familiar to you, Tyxx?*
Tyxx: *Not at all, Master. Actually, I have a feeling, but you’re not going to like it…*
Icicle: *Come on, tell me.*
What could go wrong, right?
Tyxx: *Mm, the layoutof the labyrinth looked familiar, but if I’m not wrong, then this whole place was rebuilt. You chose this path because you thought it was the correct one, right? Well, it sure as hell doesn’t seem like the one I remember. We may have been playing to these shadows’ tune all along.*
Shit, it’s true that first floor made the walls shift… wait a second!
Can it be?
Icicle: *Oi, Eshel, have you felt that the layout of this entire place has changed while I was exploring previous passage?*
Eshel: *You felt the fluctuations too? That’s one of the reasons I explicitly dissuaded you from fighting these monsters. If they’re capable of doing that then-
Icicle: *Who’s a moron now, Eshel? These Dark Trackers don’t have enough power nor smarts to change the dungeon, it’s either sentient or programmed! This whole place is changing, most likely in cyclic manner.*
Great, more riddles.
At least I got a lot of stats.
Eshel: *Hahaha, so it’s one of those, huh? My bad, kiddo. It appears that I’ve underestimated the minotaurs. Somehow, I still feel uneasy, it couldn’t be their work. Someone’s backing them. Whatever, you won’t be able to get any treasures nor find the way to the exit if this keeps up. I felt the mana fluctuations from the right corner of this place. If you can get there, maybe you’ll find the exit…*
Icicle: *Or the enemy’s headquarters.*
Eshel: *Heheh, exactly. Go, you’ve got nothing to lose.*
Icicle: *You’re talking about the ring, huh?*
Eshel: *Yup, although it’s once a month thing, it’s a free escape out of here. Just don’t get caught, otherwise even that ring won’t be of any use.*
Icicle: *Yeah, I got it.*
Sucking in a breath of cold air, I summoned Tyxx.
Before he could even ask what we’re doing, I already pointed straight at what should be the right corner of the place and yelled.
Icicle: Don’t worry about a thing, destroy all of those walls head on! I’ve got your back! When you’re close to the destination then slow down and let me unsummon you. I don’t want to have any casualties here! We either leave together or not at all!
Tyxx: Hahaha, I can finally show off. Good, watch closely Master, here I come.
Two hoofs started screeching against the cold stone ground.
Then with a snort Tyxx dashed off like a rocket, destroying at least five walls in succession.
Although Tyxx’s momentum slowed down, he didn’t mind at all. Bringing out his spiked ball and chain Tyxx started swinging it at the nearby structures like a madman.
It was comfortable feeling, being able to follow after such a destructive force.
All the shadows trembled, because they had to run for cover.
With the walls destroyed many of their territories ceased to exist or had been relocated.
After five minutes we were nearing the end.
Tyxx hurled his spiked ball and it flew destroying the remnants of the “wall barrier”.
Hurriedly unsummoning my formidable familiar, I felt somewhat at ease.
All I could lose now was the [Fire Star-shaped Ring’s] teleportation ability for a month.
Nothing to squabble over.
To add a little more dramatic element to this show of power, I’ve decided to wear [Halloween Lich Mask].
My body changed to that of a lich, so I proudly and pompously approached the ripples in the air.
Something in front of me vibrated.
No, it was not a cellphone, nor a vibrator.
It seemed like an invisible barrier of sorts.
Well, the entrance is the most important, so I’ve decided to make a grand one.
Knocking on the barrier with my bony hand, I loudly yelled.
Icicle: Knock, knock, Papa’s here~. Open up~.
Few seconds later I heard some footsteps.
The barrier before me deactivated and one of the Dark Trackers appeared.
It looked weird. Two hairy legs, claw-like hands and blurry black figure.
Who the hell thought of such an abomination?
No face, no mouth, what the heck?
Lowly Dark Tracker: Who the hell are you?! Bones…? Wait… What do you want, lich?
Ignoring him, I moved past him and made my way inside.
Looking at the interior there was some floating, special light hidden inside a pumpkin-like lantern.
Dark Moon? So something like that exists, huh?
I’ve only been at a few places yet this world already holds so many secrets…
Just how strong can the [Mastermind] subclass get?
Won’t it be like a god tier?
I wonder if there are any stronger classes.
There have to be some.
Constant nagging of the guy behind me broke my immersion.
With a glance, I realized that I’m in a corridor.
There was an entrance at the right corner of the floor that had a tunnel in the wall, leading left.
Basically, it symbolized that there’s something else behind a wall, something that shouldn’t exist!
No wonder this shit was so hard to find, it was actually located outside the maze, seemingly outside the whole floor!
In the middle of my excited thinking, Dark Tracker who let me in started yelling even louder.
Lowly Dark Tracker: I asked who the hell you are!
Icicle: I’m going to see your leader and I swear that if you dare to bother me again, I’ll baptise your whole body in the holy water! *snort*
After snorting at the creature coldly, I left without glancing back.
Even the other guard who stood watch near the entrance didn’t dare to bother me.
Apparently, he heard and saw everything.
Bluffing my way through, I entered a short corridor.
Luck my ass, this whole place is a death trap.
I had better not do any work for the pope while I’m at it.
Although if it grants some good rewards, why not?
Sticking it to that old fart can wait.
At least I think he’s an old geezer.
Don’t mind, don’t mind, I’ve walked in smoothly so I need to walk out victorious!
The quest can wait, I need to steal the treasures!
Shortly after, I reached the end of the short yet spacious tunnel.
When I walked out, I saw a vast area filled with nothing but [Dark Moon Lanterns] and [Lowly Dark Trackers].
There was some kind of barracks to my left, in front of it there were practice dummies.
Lowly Dark Trackers were sitting on the ground.
Some were fighting over spots near the lanterns and others laughing heartily.
Yeah, laugh while you still can.
No furniture, no campfires, there was simply nothing!
I realize that these creatures probably don’t sleep and don’t need to eat either, but have some culture, would you?
What am I supposed to steal if you don’t own anything, goddamnit?!
Not even giving them a single glance more, I moved on.
Soon after I felt somewhat uneasy.
Apparently several of the shadow creatures focused their gazes on me.
Although I was restless at heart, I didn’t let it show on my face and continued onward.
In front of me there was one and only road leading to an enormous wall on both sides.
I guessed this palace of sorts is their leader’s living room.
Closing in on the 3m high grotesquely decorated doors, I pushed them open.
Inside was as empty as in the space I was previously in.
What the hell can I steal from these guys?!
A bag of smelly air?
The only discernible thing was that flying [Dark Moon’s Lantern], only this one was more like a chandelier, it gave off more light than the others I saw.
I could feel no one inside, so I wandered through the empty room, trying to find anything.
Looking for hidden compartments, buried treasure chests, anything.
Unfortunately to no avail.
Getting bored with that, I loudly exclaimed.
Icicle: Hello, hello! Anybody home~?
I didn’t have to wait long.
From the wall on the left side emerged a large 2,5m shadow.
Not even a piece of information.
Big fish, huh?
This guy has to own something!
I need to play my cards right, otherwise I will leave that place with nothing but wasted time and effort!
Middle-ranked Dark Tracker: What do you want, lich?
Icicle: I am headed to the [Minotaur Settlement] to talk about some business, but I felt a familiar aura so I decided to stop by.
Middle-ranked Dark Tracker: I don’t know you and you were not invited. If all you want to do is sightseeing then go outside. Don’t bother me with such petty things.
Aren’t you a tough one?
Icicle: Come on, shouldn’t you show some hospitality to a fellow being?
Middle-ranked Dark Tracker: Like I said, I don’t know you and several of my underlings have reported that you were in human form. Why would I trust you?
Damn, I forgot to exterminate those guys.
Well, I didn’t forget, but I simply had no mana to do that.
Use your brain, Jason!
Icicle: Indeed, I was wandering through this dungeon in human form, because it’s easier to do business with other beings when they don’t look at you like you’re the worst criminal.
Middle-ranked Dark Tracker: Stop lying to me, lich! You have holy water all over yourself! How can you explain that?!
Unless I can bluff again.
Icicle: Well, that’s the reason I stopped by. As you can see, things like these are happening. *ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH* *huff* *pant* I wondered if you have any treasures or remedies that can help me out with dispelling this holy curse?
When I said these, I used [Three-staged shower] to cover myself with holy water, then screamed as loud and hard as I could.
My experience with the lung-splitting pain of [Enhanced Light’s baptism] helped with that, letting me imitate the blood-curdling scream quite well.
Middle-ranked Dark Tracker: You’re cursed?! What the hell have you been doing before coming here?! Don’t close in on me, get that holy water away from me!
So he’s scared of holy water? Good.
I felt my lips being curled upwards to the extreme.
If it wasn’t for the mask, an evil, insidious smile would show, one that would make this [Middle-ranked Dark Tracker] tremble in fear.
It was a sign that I’ll enjoy every second of torturing this creature.
Icicle: Well, I was in a battle with some of the Holy Church’s members, after a drawn out fight I emerged victorious, but on the deathbed they used their group move and made this recurring holy water harass me. It’s not enough to kill me, but it brings endless suffering. Please, esteemed Dark Tracker, help me out with this curse, I’ll trade anything for a way to remove it!
Although this shadow leader had no face, I could see a smile emerge on its hideous countenance.
I only imagined it, but I saw the air around it ripple, so it most likely caught the bait!
Middle-ranked Dark Tracker: Indeed, I do possess several treasures capable of ridding you of your predicament, lich. However, those aren’t cheap. Show me what you have to offer in return.
In the shadow’s hand appeared quite a few items.
There was a dark talisman, few black pills emanating deathly aura and an arrow covered with grime liquid.
Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but that’s what it was.
Not only did it look disgusting, it even smelled like it was found in a sewer.
There were only two things to “trade” that I could think of.
[Mysterious ring] and [Rusted scabbard] that I bought at the flea market from a forger.
Showing them to the already reeled in shadow, it gasped in surprise.
Middle-ranked Dark Tracker: T-That’s! That’s the [Ethereal’s ring]! Not only that, but a high level one in impeccable state! Where did you get such a treasure?
Icicle: *Oi Eshel, tell me what an Ethereal is, quick.*
Eshel: *I remember hearing that name. It’s a creature that’s like a god, yet is not one. But its power is comparable to a celestial being.*
Icicle: *Can it go against dragons?*
Eshel: *Actually, it’s a tad bit stronger. Average Ethereal can beat a middle-ranked dragon. It evens out at the higher levels, since dragons do possess the dragon breath. Dragon’s fire is extremely dangerous, that’s why dragons can rule over other creatures as their overlords.*
Icicle: Does it matter where I’ve found it?
I was trying to stall, so I can hear Eshel’s answers.
Icicle: *Can I use that ring then?*
Eshel: *Sure you can, if you want to blow up, that is.*
Icicle: *If I wanted to trade it for Acquare’s sister secrets, would it work?*
Eshel: *Oh? You’re actually pretty smart. Yeah, it would be a great bargaining chip.*
Middle-ranked Dark Tracker: No, it doesn’t matter. What’s that scabbard? Huh? Even I can’t decipher it? Weird, very weird.
Suddenly dark energy emerged from the shadow’s body and entered the scabbard for a few seconds.
Middle-ranked Dark Tracker: [Celestial Sword’s Scabbard]? How can this be?
Eshel: *Before you ask, no, unfortunately even I don’t know what that [Celestial Sword] is. Judging by the reaction of that Dark Tracker it seems like something extremely valuable though.*
Icicle: *Indeed it seems so, but I have no way of calculating its total value.*
Middle-ranked Dark Tracker: Are you really going to trade for these?
Icicle: I’m in a bind here, so I do not have much of a choice. Choose one and return the other.
Middle-ranked Dark Tracker: How about this, I’ll take both items and pitch in this.
Middle-ranked Dark Tracker: It’s a part of the three sets. What do you think?
Holy shit, that fucker was rich!
I’ll squeeze you dry, wretch!
Icicle: Give me the other weapons.
Middle-ranked Dark Tracker: *sigh* Fine.
Where the hell could you even sigh from?
You don’t have a face, not to mention mouth.
Hmph, anyway, don’t make it seem so painful.
Just the ring is worth at least hundred times as much, not to mention that scabbard of unknown origin.
Icicle: These are great. Give me all the sets as well.
Middle-ranked Dark Tracker: Oh come on! Aren’t you too greedy?!
Icicle: My items are worth far more, I know that. Even if you gave me hundreds of these sets they wouldn’t be equal. Yet I’m still willing to trade for only this much.
Middle-ranked Dark Tracker: You surely can bargain…
Although it seemed like the shadow gave the rest of the equipment reluctantly, it was still pretty happy.
How do I know that?
The air around it rippled.
It was excited to possess two extremely overpowered treasures!
Suddenly I heard it mumbling something.
Middle-ranked Dark Tracker: Should I…? But… let go? No, no… Fair trader… dangerous…
What the hell is he saying?
Middle-ranked Dark Tracker: GUARDS!
With thunderous howl of the Dark Tracker, all of its underlings gathered, even the ones outside of the barrier traversed through the shadows with extreme speed.
I didn’t even have time to examine the rest of the equipment…
Middle-ranked Dark Tracker: Kill this lich, he can’t leave our premises alive! Steal all of his [Artifacts] as well!
That goddamn sneaky fucker!
I wanted to steal more of your stuff before turning on you!
Now I’ll leave almost empty handed…
You dark piece of shit, you had better drop something good, otherwise I’m going to be really mad!
With all of the shadows approaching, I set my previously thought of plan in motion.