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251 Skittering problems

 Dave's group entered the Chaos dungeon. The dim interior of the cave was so sweltering hot it was difficult even to breathe. Heat radiated off the stone walls of the tunnel and scorching dry air blew up from the depths and into their faces.

Dave checked through his character sheet; he was steadily approaching an [Overheated] state.

'Man, this dive is gonna suck.'

It was 42 degree celsius. He kept an eye on his game time, heat rose by one degree celsius every thirty seconds. At that rate, it would take less than an hour to reach 100 celsius, the threshold of the [Overheat] abnormal status effect. .

"Commander, the heat is overwhelming. I can cast [Northern Wind] on us to reduce the effects," the priestess asked.

"Elemental magic?" He found it strange that she could cast elemental spells, which was the province of magic users not priests and clerics.

"Yes," replied the priestess.

Dave thought for a moment. "Wait until we can't take the heat. Otherwise, it's just a waste of mana."

"As you wish, commander."

They arrived at another section of the mines, where a natural rock formation bridged a river of flowing lava.

Two salamanders scurried away, crossing the rock that spanned the lava river to get away from the fearsome basilisks.

A large bubble in the lava welled up and then burst with a loud popping sound. From the bubble, a fish leapt in a high ballistic arc. Twice the size of a basilisk, it resembled a largemouth bass with extra-large, spiny fins. The giant fish sailed over the bridge and scooped the two salamanders into its cavernous mouth with a single snapping bite. It half fell and half glided back down into the lava on the other side, entering the molten rock with a tremendous splash.

An eerie silence permeated the cavern afterward. Despite the temperature Dave felt a chill, if salamanders hadn't tried to cross first he would have ended up inside the fish in the river of hot lava.

Dave jumped off Grumpy and approached the edge of the bridge. The rising heat seared his face, wrinkling his beard. Large fish shadows moved under the lava, circling like a pack of sharks around prey.

Dave counted four of them. He motioned his companions to stay where they were. He waited five minutes for a fish to jump again, but nothing happened.

Dave shook his head, "These fuckers are actually waiting for us to cross."

Dave mounted Grumpy again and said, "Get ready. We have to run for it. Use [Block] if you can't dodge!"

Dave waved a hand summoning four chattering spectral skulls. The glowing red orbs floated around his head, ready to be used.

"Go!" Dave shouted.

The basilisks sprinted for the other end, thundering over the rocky surface.

As expected, Dave soon heard the sound of lava bubbles popping, "Incoming!"

Dave raised his shield to block and the lava fish sailed over the bridge, snapping at him as it went by and then plunged past the opposite edge.

He looked back, a second leaping fish had slammed into the rider of the last basilisk in line, knocking the paladin off and sending him tumbling across the rock and over the edge. The paladin managed to grab a handhold and stop his fall, but he was dangling precariously over the lava flow.

"Keep moving!" Dave shouted to the others and flipped down from Grumpy's back, running back along the bridge toward the paladin.

'No one dies today!'

The sound of a bubble popping came from the lava. Another giant fish arced up over the bridge at Dave, rows of needle teeth showing. The draugr ducked under the airborne fish and grabbed the paladin's arm just as he started to slip and fall.

They heard the popping sound again. Dave yanked the paladin up then pushed him flat against the rock and threw himself under the trajectory of yet another leaping lava fish.

"Thank you, commander," the paladin gasped.

"Just run!" Dave shouted pulling him to his feet. The paladin followed obediently, running for the other end of the bridge.

Another bubble popped and another fish made the leap. Dave pointed and snapped his fingers, detonating the four spectral skulls against the flying-fish and sending it off-course.

It fell onto the bridge. Like a gamefish on the deck of a fishing boat, the landed fish flailed and twisted frantically until it finally dropped over the edge back into the lava.

More fish leapt over the bridge. Dave blocked an attack but was knocked back into the trajectory of another leaping fish. The paladin that Dave had rescued jumped in front of him with [Block] activated. The fish slammed into both the paladin and Dave, knocking them over like bowling pins, then the fish dove back into the river. The paladin scrambled to his feet and ran to Dave to help him up.

"Thanks!" Dave said.

The two of them continued their run until they reached the other end of the bridge joining the rest of the group in the mouth of the cave.

"That was some hairy shit," Dave mumbled.

Another tunnel extended ahead of them, Dave mounted Grumpy and the group moved forward. He looked at his character info, his temperature meter was still rising. It was still too early for the priestess to cast her [Northern Wind] skill, but the situation was already demanding it.

Without warning the tunnel rumbled and shook, small rocks and pebbles falling from the ceiling.

"Hold on!" Dave shouted. His held onto the spikes on Grumpy's back.

Steam vented from cracks in the stone walls of the tunnel, increasing the temperature even further.

A notification popped up in front of Dave.


Warning! You are [Overheating]. You will lose HP until you reach a more normal temperature.



Red damage values appeared continually over each member of the group.



"Shit," Dave cursed.

"Commander, should I use [Northern Wind]?"

"Yes. We can't put it off any longer."

The unholy priestess waved her scepter and chanted incomprehensible words. A chill magic infused wind blew up and swirled around each individual in the group.

A notification appeared in front of Dave.


The abnormal status effect [Overheating] has been countered.

You are no longer [Overheated], you have reached an acceptable internal temperature.


The priestess kept the magic wind going, channeling magic through her scepter to keep the spell running.

"How long can you keep it up?" Dave asked.

"Until my mana is completely depleted, about two hours. But I cannot use my healing or attack spells while I am channeling it.

'I gotta play my cards right from now on, I can't have anyone take damage needlessly.','

A couple minutes later they exited the tunnel into a new area. Lava flowed from the ceiling down the pillars that supported it and pooled on the floor. Dave counted five lava pits in the room. As the party moved nearer to one of the pools, Dave saw a shadow moving under the lava.

"Fuck, there are more of those fish in there."

The cavern shook again, and the wall on Dave's left side crumbled. The stone from the wall fell and rolled on the ground leaving an opening that reached all the way to the ceiling.

A monster as big as Grumpy entered through the new opening and skittered sideways into the room. Its domed carapace was squarish with an armored crab-like leg attached at each corner.

The first creature was followed by more, scuttling into the room one after another. Dave counted a dozen of the crab-like things. The creatures gathered in the center of the room and linked their individual bodies together front to back with all the legs aligned to the sides. The creature on the nearest end shook, its shell broke apart, revealing a human face with multi-faceted insectoid eyes and massive pincer-mandibles at the corners of its mouth.

Finished with its transformation the creature screeched and a notification appeared in front of Dave.


You have entered a boss fight against:

Chaos Centipede (Corrupted Mini-Boss).

You will lose five (5) levels if you are killed by a Corrupted creature and have a -20% penalty to EXP gains for seven (7) days (game-time).

EXP is doubled for killing a Corrupted creature.

Corrupted creatures drop all possible loot from the first kill except for quest items.

Quest items still drop based on their rarity (the rarer the item is, the lower the probability of it dropping).


The centipede-face screeched again and the monster flowed toward Dave, legs churning in rippling waves of motion to propel it forward.

Dave equipped his shield and flamberge, "Spread out!" Dave shouted.