Authors initial notes:
This story is my first writing. It is a crossover between a number of various stories, genres, and domains, but will by far and large be primarily be between Star Wars and DanMachi or (Is it wrong to find a girlfriend in a dungeon?). The core element however is a crossover from a novel series I am preparing to write, my first foray into the writing world. As such, this fanfiction is my attempt at preparation and to learn and get feedback.
As such to those who bless me by giving me your time and reading this:
Please review. If you review, no matter your opinion, please find something to criticize and recommend for improvement. I am not possibly a "good" writer let alone a perfect one. I will only improve by others point out the places where I am blind. Please be constructive and kind if possible, but please...criticize away. I can take it.
All this being said, again, thank you for reading at least a little of my work, and I look forward to joining you in the world of Gekai and Orario and seeing just where a broken traveler can go when faced with the chance to help something, and someone, grow.
A Strange Traveler in a Stranger Land
Chapter 1: Let the Aether Flow Through You
The chamber was silent.
The room appeared to be a cave; the flowing surfaces comprised of hardened marble with glowing specs littered through the stone. As wide as 10 full men with arms outstretched, its sole content was a pedestal surrounded by outward growing rings upon which rested…nothing.
The chamber had rested silent and unvisited for likely millennia, and could easily wait millennia more without disturbance, the air as still as ever. A future of continued silence and motionlessness…was not meant to be. There was little warning as the 10-sided pedestal with its slightly tilted face lit up with a brilliant and pulsing green glow, misshapen and flickering characters hovering in the air above it until…it stopped. A moment. Then two. The event seemingly had no cause, and seemingly no effect until-
The still air above seemed to warp and twist inward just before exploding outward with a dizzying flash, just as a man's body seemed to appear from thin air, flying from the central ring as if a doll thrown by an angry child. The unfortunate individual struck the wall nearly completely inverted with a gut-wrenching thud before sliding to the ground in a boneless heap.
"uuugghng…" Seren opened his eyes and weakly tried to pull himself from the floor, the blue glow reflecting almost black from his deeper-blue eyes. He was certainly a sight if anyone had been there to see him; His head had a cut running from front to back along the side, the black leather jacket was covered in small, hexagon-shaped plates that stretched from shoulder to shoulder and down. It would have been considered a form of protection if not for the large, melted cut that stretched from shoulder to hip.
Seren's gaze swept the chamber while slowly pulling himself to his feet; he couldn't help being rather unsurprised at the view with it being one he had seen before many times. While always different in the details, in general it was close to the norm: The softly lit cavern and smooth and polished marble was new, but the pedestal and markings upon the floor were to him a now common sight.
"It's almost always a cave…why can't I get a beach for once?" Seren sighed as he took stock of his situation: His armor was rent, he was fairly sure considering the twinge in his chest that at the least he had bruised a rib or three on his exit from the gate, his chest and stomach were hurting but seemed to be intact, a miracle considering what had cut into him before, and he was tired; fighting a running battle for hours against an always reinforce and persistent enemy did that to you.
The room or chamber had only a single entrance or exit that, when he poked his head out, split off in two opposite directions. There was no sign or indication of what lay down either curving path, nor any evidence that anyone had come through the area recently. The air was still and stale yet surprisingly free of dust. As caves went, this one was already proving to be unusual.
His boots making a dull thud with each step, Seren stepped to the far wall of the corridor and placed his hand on it, eyes shut as he dove deep into his awareness; he needed a way out and only the force could guide him out of this one. A slight hum from his lips was the only sign of action as he first reached out to find the ever-vibrating energy around him, inviting the flow to rush through him with arms his body had never possessed. As he began to feel as though he would burst, he reached out in his mind's eye, and again with a hand that he had never owned, began to twirl fingers he could not feel in circles, spinning in his minds eye loops of verdant power into an ever tightening and twisting knot. Just as he felt that sense of binding…he pulled…and let go. The aether, also known as mana…or magic...or just plain energy…in the space around him snapped and burst outwards, guided by the sense of the force he had called on
'I need a way out….' His thoughts echoed his desires as he let the flow of force and energy surge through him before racing outwards, bouncing and ricocheting in an invisible shower of sparks as it flowed through the many corridors and rooms stretching away from him in every direction. Like echoes in the sea, a map of colors and shapes began to appear behind his eyes, quickly building into a maze of seemingly random and intertwining spaces. Finally, a path in his mind seemed to throb, and the understanding came to him: Up.
Seren frowned however, as he felt areas that seemed…blurred to him. He had used this method of echolocation numerous times before, applying his abilities in both the force and use of the universe's aether to find his way through confusing places, but these empty spots that were…not…were new. One was right around the corner in fact.
Two things happened right that moment. As Seren opened his eyes and turned his head towards the corner around which an…anomaly…existed, a scream of sound and sheer sensation assaulted his ears and senses. Before he could begin to contemplate this however, the second thing happened: A beast that resembled part scorpion and part badger stepped around the corner. This would not have been overly concerning to the still reeling Jedi Traveler, had said scorpion-badger…thing…not stood nearly half again as tall as he, filling the corridor from floor to ceiling and wall to wall.
"Ah…motion…that…isn't alive?" before Seren could ponder the very much apparently alive creature in front of him NOT showing in his mental map, said bagorpion (it was as good a name as any to him) made the first move: It roared almost ear shatteringly loud out of a ridiculously tiny mouth as it raced forward on all 8…or maybe 10…legs, stinger poised just over its shoulder in the scant space above.
Almost without thought, Seren took a step back, left hand outstretched with fingers spread wide, and reached out with his mental arm and with a violent mental twisting pull, snapped aether around him and into his arm. The result was immediate and, to him, quite satisfying.
From his outstretched hand a trio of white and blue shimmering stars, eye-wateringly bright, erupted outwards and almost too fast for the eye to see sped into the torso of the scorpion-badger hybrid. At first, it seemed they had merely burnt small, eyeball sized holes into the chitin armor on the chest before suddenly said chest erupted in a roar of sound, light, and flying cooked flesh. As the body collapsed, a fourth flash suddenly erupted from within the corpse, and the remaining body just…burst…into a cloud of ash.
Before he could do more than twitch his eye at the unexpectedly complete destruction he had just wrought, the echoes of numerous other, and variously pitched, roars reached Seren's ear. Considering the number of indistinct hazes his mental pulse had indicated, and the number of overlapping cries he heard getting louder, a great many other somethings were on their way.
Almost desperately, Seren spun on his foot and, reaching out again towards the pillar in the other room, closed his eye and reached out yet further in his mind, straining to find the magical song he always felt while manipulating a Gate. It was, however, not meant to be. Seren knew from his many previous experiences that a gate into a new plane would often be surrounded by a chaotic current of aether that made interaction almost impossible. Considering the speed, violence, and desperation with which he had entered the previous gate, and thus exited this gate, it was no surprise that the aether within the tuning circles was in chaos. In hindsight, what was most surprising was that he had survived the passage at all. The force that had slammed him so hard against the very unmoving wall had likely saved him as well; the aether, which was only energy after all, was moving so fast that had he remained within even the outer of the 3 rings more than a moment he likely would have been quickly burnt to a cinder. Aether couldn't be seen by damn near anything, but that didn't mean it couldn't have painful interactions with the world. The steady song he was searching for was now a mental wail, and entirely unusable until it calmed…a long time from now.
Already, he could feel the vibration of many, massive footfalls echoing from the floor through his boots. Considering the floor, walls, and ceiling were hard enough that he wasn't sure just how much damage even his magic missiles could do, that meant that what was coming was HEAVY and FAST. Discretion this time was likely not only the course of valor…but survival.
So, he ran. The map in his mind with its burning path to what felt like a path upwards, Seren raced through the dark glowing tunnels to what he hoped would lead to escape. Behind him, he heard the sound of rock shattering, though as turned past corner after corner, he couldn't see that it was in fact the sound of the same walls shattering outwards as monsters similar to his previous encounter burst, fell, and rose from the walls, ceiling and floor.
The dungeon itself was after him.
Far above the recent addition to what was known simply as the Dungeon, within a dark, expansive cavern barely lit by the four burning large braziers, an old, hooded figure raised his head at the same time as the entirely shrouded individual in front of him paused mid-sentence, tilting its head in curiosity.
"Yes my friend…the dungeon is…hungry?"
The god known as Ouranos responded to his advisor's comment, both sensing the sudden change in the earth beneath their feet through their own particular abilities.
"Something has changed below." The founding god of Orario mused out loud. "Inform Royman…", he paused, "…tell Royman to have the guild ready for anything…unusual."
The covered figure bowed slightly as it moved off to do its god's bidding, leaving the God of the Sky buried in his chamber below the surface to muse over the dungeon to which he had prayed for so long, the dungeon that which for so long had seemed a sleeping beast now seemed to mentally coil.
"It is searching…but for what?"
The crackling flames of the nearest fire pot had no answer to give.
The dungeon screamed, and adventurers paused. The dungeon, the only one like it in all of the world of Gekai, was itself normally to the senses nothing more than a…very…unique cave system. Yes, it not only daily but minute by minute could birth monsters from its walls which adventurers of all types fought, but often did so in a manner that seemed intelligently seeking the demise of those within it. But as unique as all this was, it never made an actual sound. But for a moment, every one of the nearly 500 adventurers scattered through its depths, concentrated mainly between the first and tenth level and on the 18th as well, paused mid-step, mid-swing, or mid-anything as the walls themselves for a moment cried out.
"Lilly does NOT like the sound of that!"
"That was new…"
"Lilly and Sir Welf are not wrong!"
The members of the Hestia Familia, a small but slowly and publicly growing familia in the city of Orario, were on the third level of the dungeon, having just entered from above with the intent of travelling down below. With their captain having just reached level three, they all felt they needed to practice as a group again to "get their rhythm" as Welf, a third-tier adventurer in the group, would say.
"Sir Bell…what do you think…should we continue?" inquired Mikoto, the dark haired and eastern-style attired and armored girl that had recently joined the familia, just a week earlier to assist in the "War Game" the familia had fought against another, now defunct, familia.
"I haven't heard that before either Mikoto." The white-haired youth, who also happened to be the familia's recent second-tier reason for coming down today, replied. "But unless we see an irregular or something, I don't see why anything needs to change. Apollo familia is still moving out and I'm not as confident as the Goddess that they'll be leaving as much as they're supposed to. We need this experience and as many magic stones as we can get."
The foundation of a great part of the world's economy, and technology tree as well, magic stones were only found from within the monsters that spawned in the dungeon of Orario, with adventurers in the hundreds and even thousands daily delving into its very dangerous depths to fight and kill the monsters that possessed said stones.
The group continued onwards and downward, cautious, but not yet aware that something had changed below. Elsewhere, in floors further down, adventurers were almost, but not quite, panicking.
"It just won't die!"
"When did the stupid rabbits get so tough?!"
Something HAD changed. Monsters throughout the dungeon had, at the sound of strange scream that had come from the very walls and floors, gone not QUITE mad, but mad enough. Monsters that before worked in teams threw themselves at adventures in a mad rush, ignoring wounds that would before have sent them to the floor or running. While not really strong, the monsters all across the dungeon were certainly faster, and seemed to be LOOKING for something. On the upper floors, the same ones that Hestia familia was passing through, lower-tier adventurers found the usually straight-forward creatures suddenly more difficult to endure in groups, and while no one was killed, yet, many groups found themselves pulling back up and out of the dungeon entirely, flooding the bottom floor of the guild with surprised and often wounded adventurers. The god of the Guild was only then realizing something was happening, and warning to the adventurers would come much too late to do much more than make those seeking to enter aware that things would be more difficult that day.
To other groups such as the Hestia familia, the presence of third and second tier adventurers meant that while the sudden increase in aggression was noticed, it was not yet a concern.
That would change later
Seren bounced off the side of a tunnel as he hit the corner full sprint, throwing himself forward as a blast of fire suddenly ignited where had just been moments before. He had come up nearly seven levels, and he was getting tired. With each stairway he came to, he would send out a pulse to find the quickest route upwards, but had as yet to find any sign that he was near the surface of the cave, or as he had realized, the dungeon. A couple levels below he thought he had made it, but it was merely in an impressively large cavern where ceiling soared hundreds of feet above.
"Who…the hell….puts…a damned CORE…right on top of a gateway?" Seren panted to himself as he careened through the halls, following the glowing path in the map in his mind. The design of these levels was interesting, almost purposeful with the perfect squares and corners. The halls of the current level were no longer the smooth marble but a burnt and glowing blue hardened granite. For as hard as the stone was though, it apparently wasn't hard enough to step the constant stream of explosions blasting up through the floors from below. He had left behind two levels ago what looked to be various forms of dragons, and they were still trying to kill him through two levels of rock with their bursts of flame. Seeing as how they were burning holes hundreds of meters thick through the stone, he was NOT interested in being hit by that.
So far he had managed to evade just about everything in his way, if he wasn't able to follow a path down tunnels that avoided the monsters entirely, then he was usually able to dive or slide under, jump or roll over, or just knock over the creature in the way. So far, he had only had to blow apart a half dozen different creatures intent on ending him. But that number had recently very quickly gone from one upwards. The monsters were either finding him faster, or they were getting denser.
"Considering how hard these things are….huff…and assuming this thing…huff huff…is like the others Min told me about…huuuuff….then this thing is…puff huff…really…-THUD-….old…" Seren continued his running commentary as he ran, pondering the existence of what he could only at this point assume was a, very, mature dungeon that USUALLY sprung from a dungeon core. Considering how long it took for those to mature, if they were given the chance, and the sheer difficulty and lethality of the creatures he was barely avoiding, he could only assume he had quite a ways to go to get out. The older a dungeon got, the more, and more difficult, the levels it created. He hadn't actually stopped moving to fight anything because if he did…he was a dead Traveler. One on one, even two or three on one from the various creatures down here he could handle, but one cave that had a giant green crystal growing out of the floor had contained over three hundred monsters alone.
Fighting now was…
Death. Like the speeder-sized spider that just hurtled down and out of the stairwell leading upwards.
His eyes half-closed, he could barely notice the glistening fangs as he listened to the song that was the force singing in what he could only call his soul. It was without thought that his hand stretched out, and with a mental tug, pulled the forearm-length object that had been swinging alongside his waist to his grasp.
Just as the black drooling arachnid was about to collide with him, a yellow/gold blade erupted from the forearm-length metal baton in his right hand, and sweeping upwards, cut smoothly through the eye-covered head of the monster. As he did this, Seren's left arm snapped forward and without thought, called out through the force and pushed…and the spider literally split in half from front to end, bursting into the now familiar ash as it did.
A purple rock almost sent Seren back off his feet…as it hit him in the face.
'-what?' Easily larger than his closed fist, this rock was an almost perfectly symmetrical decahedron, a ten-sided block, that seemed to burn in his mind's eye. Seren had never actually been in a real dungeon before so he wasn't sure if this was normal, but the sheer potential of the stone was almost vibrating in his head. He had seen some similar stones several floors below when he had blown apart, surprisingly easily too, a giant acid-throwing caterpillar that had dropped a greenish stone, but it was a mere spark to this stone's inferno in his head.
The sound of the several…dozen…absurdly large rhinos that had been following him for the last ten or so minutes echoing behind him, Seren acted almost without thought. Grabbing the rock, he threw it as hard as he could, a push from the force for good measure down the tunnel behind him. Not a moment later, he reached out and fed…just a bit…of aether into the receding, bouncing stone.
The glow this time wasn't only in his mind, but in his vision as the dark purple stone suddenly erupted with a violent orange glow that, just as it struck a wall several-score meters down the tunnel, turned his world white.
"Ow…ow…" -thud! - "OW!" Seren came to as another rock bounced off his head. He had thrown himself around the top of the stairs just as the rock hit the end of the tunnel below him, but even then, the explosion had echoed up and through the tunnel after him and thrown him like a toy into another wall. The tunnel behind him…was simply gone, a pile of rock that filled the entirety of the space including it seemed down the stairs he had just come up.
"Well…that worked…well…ow…" His lightsaber was, thankfully, nearby. Considering he had hit the wall hard enough to, again, almost break bones he was rather surprised he had hung on to his weapon as long as he had. Grabbing it, he kept it in his hand as he ran, his left palm running along the surface of the wall as he again sent out a pulse of aether and force into the world around him 'Out…up….' The return once again showed a way out, but this time the shimmers of what he had come to realize were the dungeon's creations filled every tunnel between him and his latest objective.
He wasn't being allowed to escape as easily this time.
The tunnels this level were the same, rough red stone as the level below, but the creatures this time were large spiders of some sort. Seren was fairly sure as he came around the corner and saw a pair in front of him that one had the mouth of a piranha behind a pair…no…a pair of a pair…of mandibles.
Knowing he couldn't stop moving, Seren kept up his sprint, and as the first vehicle sized arachnid leapt at him, he slid forward and down below it. He activated the lightsaber just in time to let the blade slice through the creature lengthwise sending ichor flying, while from his left hand came a pair of the bright white-blue stars, his magic missiles as he called them, that burned into and exploded out of the second giant spider.
As Seren jumped to his feet at the end of his slide, both creatures burst into ash, dropping more stones on the floor. Considering the sheer scale of damage the previous stone, which had been somewhat larger than these fist-sized versions, had caused…he could use these.
Seren smiled…he had an idea.
"The exit to level 19 is secure for now…but I'm not sure if it's going to hold up if something really tries to come up Bors." A blonde, middle aged woman updated the one-eyed adventurer that had been named leader of the town-of-the-18th-level…simply called Rivera…on defenses. Three groups had come into the level, two from the 17th and one from the 19th, mentioning how the monsters had become considerably more aggressive than usual. The hellhounds of the floors above were not that great an issue considering Rivera had considerable stocks of materials that could ward flame, but the acid and poison-beetles from below were a different matter; Flame could be warded against and burns healed easily enough, but poison and acid were much harder to resist against and heal. As such, a wooden gate had been raised against the gate to the 19th floor to keep things out. One of the teams was getting ready to go back down; they had a quest to complete after all. But at least it was a one-way path for the monsters…for now.
"Good job Anise…keep an eye on it and have Marak report if anyone else comes down from above. This isn't anything crazy like that Goliath from before…but I agree with you mages…something feels wrong today."
Bors gave out further instructions before returning to the town; weary adventurers meant lodging and lodging meant money he intended to make.
The current and previous level had been similar to the last 8 or 9; made of blue stone but with considerably larger halls. Seren could have marched an army through them and never filled them entirely. Various pillars and random supports, all the same blocky shape dotted the sides almost like art. It was as he raced around one such piece that he found what he had been looking for these last two floors: a place to hide.
At first Seren had thought the dragons below were tracking him by noise somehow, but that ultimately didn't make sense. NOTHING could hear through that many layers of stone and space, especially with any accuracy capable of tracking and targeting a moving target. He had eventually realized that the dragons must have been able to follow him like the dungeon: his life force. There had certainly been plenty of force-using creatures before that could hunt through the force or other such means, since he hadn't lost his connection to the force in this plane, it made sense that other creations or creatures could do the same.
"Finally…I think…I'm going to take…a break little…guy..." Seren gasped out to the purple wheel beside him as he pulled himself into a narrow depression, almost a vertical crack, between two pillars. It had space behind that he was able to pull aside and not be seen. This also gave his new…companion…space to…roll…in.
"I am SO going to kiss Rondal if I ever see him again…if…Gat doesn't kill me first…" Seren had in an armored pouch on his pocket one of his more prized possessions. He didn't actually know what it was called…he had had to leave the world it was given to him in such a hurry, but the friend he had made had assured him it would help him out; the small, thumb sized stone held the pattern, or enneagram, of several dozen ancient creatures, to that world at least, that he could "copy" into patterns of aether. One such pattern felt to him through the force like it had once been a mollusk of some sort, slowly rolling through the currents of a long dead sea. It had been perfect for the task at hand.
He hadn't been able to use the stone from the spiders before, as both had helped to collapse the large tunnel behind him, but he had had his first encounter with a herd of Rhinoceroses of all things that when killed dropped similar stones. That fight, and the three after, had required the use of his lightsaber AND his magical arts. Cutting or blowing the creatures apart wasn't always enough because the sheer weight of them often saw them crashing down towards him before they vanished to ash. He had several times had to force the aether into a direct shield, but that was never pleasant because while his body would be protected, any impact would send a wave through him mind as well. Survivable, but damn if he didn't have a headache now.
All that said, Seren had taken the chance to copy into the aether the pattern he had found, using one of the larger and rounder stones as a target. The end result was a stone that would on its own roll around chasing him collecting the stones as it went. He now had a waist-high rolling disc of magic stones that would at need throw stones at enemies pressing him. While the throw itself was rather anemic, with a little boost from a push in the force and a flick of aether, and the stone turned into a veritable explosive missile.
While all this was good, Seren had another problem: he was tired. At last count he had ascended 13 levels of the dungeon at an elevation change of nearly a thousand meters, encountered well over 600 lethal creatures that either wanted to eat him or turn him into goo, more and more of which he was finding himself unable to simply go around, and thrown several hundred magical bolts. As the stairs or ramps up were often separated by several miles of traversable corridors, Seren had realized he had run 60 or 70 kilometers so far. Even for the fit way-traveler he was and experienced Jedi he had become…he had reached a limit.
Hidden in the corner of the wall between the two pillars, Seren reached into the center of himself and simply pulled tightly. He had found by suppressing at times both his magical output and connection to the force, the dragons below seemed to lose track of him, blowing apart completely unrelated areas or not trying at all. With his core, as he thought of it, secure, Seren grabbed from a shoulder-loop a glowing green hypo-pen which he quickly stabbed into his neck. A general-use medical device with a bacta-kyto solution, it was able to quickly heal wounds both internal and external…with some time and rest. Taking several deep breathes, Seren relaxed his mind and found that part of himself that seemed to resonate to his connection with the force, he let his breathing slow and heartbeat plummet. Within moments, he had gone from running frantically through the deep depths of a dungeon to settling deep into a Jedi healing trance.
Through it all, the purple wheel of monster-stones watched and waited silently, as the roar and thunder of Giant Rhinos, the hiss of angry spiders, and screech of baby dragons that had climbed through the blasted holes echoed down the halls. During all this, a desperate man sought peace and health while an ancient crab protected its only apparent child.
"There are so many of them! Master Bell… LEFT LEFT!" The prum girl called Lilly called out to her adventurer friend a warning, giving Bell a chance to dive out of the way of a giant club slamming into where he had just stood. The club was easily twice as tall as the white-haired adventurer; a landform that the dungeon grew as weapons for its monsters.
"Thanks Lily! FiiiireBOLT!"
Three flashes of orange light blasted into the troll on the fog on the tenth level, blowing apart first its left arm before savaging its face. A moment later, a longsword flashed, and the head came off entirely, turning to ash after a moment.
"Ok…what's going ON? …this is insane!"
"I'm…not sure…they aren't as hard to kill…but they don't seem to be feeling pain or something…it's like they're mad…"
"Lilly is…worried…Master Bell…Lilly has not seen monsters act like this before."
The Hestia familia were on the 10th floor and finding that the creature's difficulty, while similar to before, had effectively gone up since even when mortally wounded…they simply refused to DIE as early as usual. Kobolds had made suicide runs, the large ants, even with their heads cut off would attempt to fight for a time, rolling around trying to cut with their mandibles, their bodies running blindly trying to grab anything moving.
"It's not actually hard or anything…but something has happened…ever since that weird noise we heard…the dungeon is different. And we haven't seen any other groups either! It's like…almost like everyone has run away!"
The group stared at the cave entrance in the wall that led to the 11th floor silently for a moment, pondering what lay ahead. The next two levels were considered the dividing point between where lower and upper level 1 adventurers would go. The next two levels were considered extremely dangerous to even higher skilled and rated level one adventurers. Their group was okay with a level three and two level twos, but Lilly was still level one and as vulnerable as ever.
"Lilly is ok with us going forward. If Mr. Bell and Mr. Welf keep the front with Ms. Mikoto acting as rear guard, Lilly feels she will be ok despite the monster's behavior. We should go slow, find smaller rooms to damage the walls so monsters will not spawn and remember which way to escape."
Everyone looked at each other before each nodding agreement. The plan was solid, and if they could keep finding places to limit the birth of monsters by making the dungeon prioritize healing itself then they could keep the chances of being ambushed to a minimum. Destroying walls as they went would slow them down, but they had learned their lesson the first time they disastrously went down so far: fast can be bad.
"Fine then! Let's keep going!" Bell stepped forward with Welf just behind, and the group descended to the 11th floor of the dungeon.
Seren was frustrated…as in actually pissed off. In theory…and practice…that's not good for either a magic user OR a Jedi no matter what plane you were in, but he couldn't help it this time.
"If I had gone just another TWO…FREAKING…TURNS!"
He was raving to himself as he walked along a small river to the top of a mesa where he had felt the exit to this level. As usual when he got upset, Seren generally felt that he had a good reason. In this case…
"It's a freaking PARADISE right here…nothing's spawning, and nothing saw me leave so I'm not being followed…I could have freaking SLEPT here…ARGGH!"
…in this case he was likely correct. Seren didn't know it, but he had ascended 13 levels to the 51st floor and had stopped to rest and heal less than a hundred meters from the exit to the 50th floor, a floor in the dungeon considered a safe zone where creatures could enter from above and below, but not spawn.
"Ok Rolly…lets go do this. For some reason…I'm having a really bad feeling about this…so…keep it together." Seren joked towards the disc of stones that was still rolling alongside him, crunching along. He wasn't entirely sure exactly how the thing was moving itself, though he was beginning to think it was simply shifting its center of gravity a bit to roll. It worked uphill too, as was happening now as Seren and…Rolly…moved upwards through another dark tunnel to the level above.
"Gah…I can't tell if this place is supposed to look better going up or down!" The level of the dungeon was…nothing. Little more than a vast, red sandy desert plain stretched out farther than he could see, showing there was at least a little curve to the surface. Far off in the distance, stretching around until the met behind him, were the walls of the level, soaring again high above to a red-yellow glowing ceiling.
"Hrrmmm….Rolly…I'm not liking the fact we're not going to have any place to hide as we do this, and while I kind of like the idea of following the walls…but if something, or a lot of somethings see us…we're dead…or I'm dead…you'll be…dead again?" The rolling disc made no sign of either the conversation or humor Seren directed to it.
"Rolly" just followed its child.
Nothing to this really…my last pulse is leading off in this direction, almost directly across…speed might likely be the best bet here. Small red puffs of dirt popped up with each step while Seren mused as he walked. Until…
"Let's…ROLL!" With that, Seren picked up a jog toward the exit which looked to be kilometers away. Perhaps ten minutes had gone by when, rounding a large boulder at the top of a slight rise, Seren came to a stop.
"Ahhh…shit." Ahead, in what he could only call a herd, was several hundred…things. They were the first creatures yet that he recognized as humanoid in any way, but unlike the many humanoid species he had interacted with over the years, Seren doubted he would find any personal connections here.
Standing a good 3 meters tall at the shoulder, they had the heads and legs of goats with the torso and arms of a human. Many were carrying stone clubs and wandering in aimless circles. Some were fighting and butting heads, literally, in contests.
Until they saw him. As if time froze still, hundreds of pairs of red eyes at once snapped to his position. Even Rolly, perhaps sensing the impending danger, seemed to slightly flatten out. Time seemed to stand still, neither the Goatmen nor Seren moving until…
"AGGOOOOOOGGHHHAAA!" Like an ancient steam engine, the herd roared….and charged. Looking behind him, Seren could only realize that there was absolutely no chance of making the entrance to below. As such…all he could was-
"AAAGGHHHH!" With a passion he hadn't felt in longer than he cared to think about, Seren charged an unbeatable foe. He had done it before, he would do it again.
Sprinting full out, Rolly loyally rolled along behind as the distance between them and over 200 creatures' intent on killing them closed the distance. Just as the range closed to a mere 20 or so meters, Seren cried out and threw his hand skyward, letting fly dozens of his burning stars. At the same time, he reached down and pulled out his lightsaber and ignited the blade…and then ignited the other.
Holding his golden saber-staff in one hand, a rain of deadly light descending because of the other, Seren motioned forward and cried out desperately "Throw!" Steadily, one after the other, magic stones began ejecting with force from Rolly. As each passed over or by his shoulder, Seren flicked each with a stream of aether from his mind, and within seconds over a score of glowing magic stones were hurting towards the herd.
Each rain of destruction met the herd of goat-beasts at the same time. Each missile as it descended, if it struck a beast would burn almost entirely through before exploding in a rain of supersonic flesh and bone. If it missed, the blast would hurl beasts head over deformed tail. Each magic stone struck a beast with the force of a bomb, and dozens more died per impact.
Seren literally could not hear anything as he reached the edge of the dust cloud that had formed from the blasts, the ringing in his ears blocked out the roars of fury and enraged pain from the beasts ahead. The stampeding herd continued forward, weapons raised to crush the interloper when out of the nowhere of the dust, Seren came to meet the survivors, both blades spinning in front of him in an interweaving infinity circle as he continue to run, severing legs and arms as he ran through the beasts, dodging, jumping, and rolling as he continued his way. Behind him, rolling in the most erratic and drunken fashion, his construct followed closed behind. As he continued to run into a seeming calm of the herd, Seren threw his hand upwards again, sending a score of missiles skyward, only to mentally guide them back down: all around him.
As the beasts either stopped to pursue, or ran into range from now ahead of him, the rest of the herd ran into his trap: Death descended from the sky and erupted yet another cloud of dust, blood, and fur.
He never stopped. To stop was to die and he continued to run with the speed and grace only those aided by the force could. Every step struck the ground just right, every shift of weight just enough to accomplish the turn or shift in movement. The speed was incredible, even for a collection of beasts used to running fast themselves. As he ran out of the cloud of red sand and blood, Seren saw his objective, finally, in the distance: A dark speck against the wall, the exit.
Then the earth shook. Only the force kept him on his feet as the ground shattered and broke behind him, releasing to the chase a monster thrice again as tall as the tallest goat-man…with one eye.
From which burst a sudden blast of red light that only the last second swing of his saber stuff reflected. Screaming off into the sky, the red beam struck a growing crystal high above, sending razor-sharps flinging to the ground.
Most of the shards struck the monster-of-monsters in the head and shoulders, eliciting a yet louder scream that thankfully, due to his thoroughly ringing ears, Seren did not hear. The shards fell around him as well, and only the guidance he could never fully explain kept him shifting his body this way and that as pieces large and fast enough to skewer him through fell around. One struck Rolly and shattered into a cloud of tiny fragments, one of which barely missed Seren's left ear.
Now, the chase was on: The beast, followed in turn by the remnants of the herd of smaller goat-men pursued him with a dogged determination, and step after step red blasts of light emerged from the monster's eye towards Seren, only time after time for last second flicks of his wrist behind to deflect the flashes of light back towards his pursuers, or into the dirt flashing by below.
So focused and intent in his mind of letting his joy at the rush of danger and anger at the beasts trying to kill him flow through him, Seren didn't even notice as he suddenly ran into the large cavern that stair-stepped upwards to the next level. He didn't even notice he had left his pursuers behind until he was suddenly engulfed in yet another cloud of dirt.
The massive beast had in turn been so focused on catching the intruder to its floor that it had not even noticed the wall. As such, it had not been crouched low enough to actually ENTER the tunnel and had in turn crashed its head fully and squarely into the floor wall just above. Hitting with enough force to stop its head in place, its body continued forward, almost still running until he was parallel to the floor. The herd that had been following had been so close that when it hit, they continued on below…until they were crushed by the beasts falling body. In turn, the beast itself was suddenly crushed as the cavern entrance collapsed completely on it, it's furious roars suddenly silenced when a final boulder, released from high up the wall near the ceiling, struck it hard enough in the face to shatter its skull. Within moments after himself entering the tunnel, Seren was racing away into the dark from a pile of ash, rock, and shattered magic stones.