The following day, a group of adventurers approached the dungeon entrance. They were a small group of five members, led by a tall red haired lady warrior named Fiora. Fiora was a C rank adventurer who was well experienced with battle and had confidently led her friends through many trials. She wore a heavy iron armor that never hindered her grace and speed and carried a sword and shield on her back.
Following her were her comrades in arms that had lived with her through thick and thin. First, there were the twin warriors Nick (Nic) and Natalie, who preferred to called Nat. Nic and Nat focused on strength to balance with Fiora's defense, and could wield a small amount of fire and water buffing magic respectively. The brown haired, blue eyed 20 year old humans were still in their prime and hungered for adventurer.
Joining them from the Mage University was the human mage Jonas, a smaller man who preferred reading to traveling. He joined reluctantly, usually dragged along by his best friend Nic into various situations. After living through one life threatening situation after another, the man had become used to them and now looked forward to any magical discoveries they made.
The last member of their group was an elf named Gran. An archer in practice, he also served as the healer of the group, specializing in potions and battle remedies. Gran was a young elf, a little over 100, and had joined Fiora after one of her guild assignments had resulted in his life being saved. His life debt to her had long since been paid off, but he had found that he quite enjoyed traveling and adventuring so he had chosen to stay with them.
Today, the group had decided they were going to fight to the bottom of the dungeon and defeat the boss as a challenge. It was well known that while interesting, the herbs earned by defeating the dungeon boss were often not worth the risk in getting there.
As they reached the entrance, Fiora turned and surveyed the group. "Do we have everything ready for this?" She asked.
Gran nodded, "I have potions for slime burn and minor injuries. My arrows have been enchanted as well."
Jonas nodded, "I also took the time to enchant the twin's weapons. My magic is ready to for battle as well."
The twins drew their swords and nodded. They were eager to begin exploring the dungeon. Fiora cracked a grin at their eagerness.
"Remember, this is a slime dungeon; it is unique and should not be underestimated. Reports have confirmed its growth and new enemies within, so stay sharp."
With that, she turned and entered the dungeon. The others quickly followed her as Gran cast light-balls to light their way.
It was well known that the initial tunnel was clear of enemies, but they did not drop their guard as they slowly walked down the path. The walls glowed with a soft purple light as water dripped from spots on the ceiling to the floor. Fiora eyed the various puddles in their path.
"Gran, any chance you can verify those aren't slimes?"
He shook his head, "Besides wasting magic to disturb the water or risking equipment to poke them, I cannot. The magic tool used to inspect dungeons was returned to the main guild branch after it was used by the scouting team. It's unique, old magic that hasn't been replicated yet, and the death of the team has made the administration nervous enough to devout more research into it."
Nat sneered, "I heard that their deaths were well deserved after their attack on the princess. Sir Koran has always had a questionable reputation, and now his men have shown their true nature. I can't wait till a reward is assigned for his arrest."
Nic patted his sister as the group moved forward slowly, "There is no proof yet of his involvement, only that he knew of the letters existence and that his men read it."
"Of course he knew what was in the letter! Those friends of his would never act without his approval!"
"Perhaps sister, but we cannot prove anything and his father is putting pressure to leave Koran out of the investigation."
Fiora listened but did not comment. Privately, she agreed with the idea that Sir Koran was involved, but was too cunning to have left any proof of his involvement. It would have been a favor to the world if he had disappeared along with his men.
Gran used his bow to shoot each puddle, but none of them held a slime and the group exited the tunnel safely. The first room glittered with veins of copper that ran through the wall. None of them had any interest in the metal, so they quickly left the room and entered the "real" dungeon. As the exited the room, they felt the magic energy shift around them.
"Okay, prepare for battle!" Fiora announced as she drew he sword and shield. Surprisingly, torches were now embedded in the walls at intervals and cast fiery light down the dungeon tunnel. It was a lot better to look at, rather than the normal purple glow that had been expected.
"My lady, there are slimes approaching." Gran announced, drawing back his bow. Three slimes slid down the walls toward them, each a purple color. Gran released his arrows and hit the cores of each of them with pinpoint accuracy.
Jonas inspected them, "These are the common slime of the dungeon." He announced, "Very weak to anything magic."
Nic raised an eyebrow, "I've never heard of the slimes moving toward us like this. They should be hidden for ambushes instead."
Jonas nodded as he got back up, "That is true, but if their previous places have new occupants than the slimes would be forced to move."
Nat gasped, "Are you saying that the slimes were forced to move because of stronger monsters?"
"Most likely, but they are other possible reasons for the move. In any case, we should be wary for new dangers."
The group collected the slime cores and proceeded down the hallway. They moved together in formation to keep an eye out for ambushes: Nic kept his eyes on the ceiling, Nat kept her eyes on the floor, Jonas extended his magic senses around them, and Gran used his ears to listen. While the others concentrated on the area around the group, Fiora kept her eyes staring ahead down the tunnel.
She stepped her foot down just as Jonas grabbed her arm. Her foot paused on the surface as she turned to regard the mage.
"There is a pitfall in front of you." He explained, "Be careful where you step."
Nodding, Fiora moved her foot back as she slammed the butt of her sword into the ground. The fragile stone crumbled away to reveal a round hole that descended a few feet down into darkness. Jonas sent a light-orb down and illuminated the gray-purple slimes lying in wait.
"Those are the new species of slime." Gran announced, "Grey slimes are highly resistant to anything physical, even magic infused weapons."
"Will they chase us?" Nat asked, eyeing the still slimes.
Gran shook his head, "They will only chase if disturbed. As long as none of us fall in, they will remain there. I advise we save our mage for moving threats."
Nodding in agreement, the group moved around the pitfall and continued their way. They encountered two more slime pitfalls, each on opposite sides of the tunnel. Each time, Jonas warned Fiora, who then broke the covering and revealed more grey slimes.
They reached the second room and paused outside. "The report suggests the room has slimes on the ceiling." Fiora reiterated, "So it’s important we don't fall prey to ambush." She poked her sword into the room experimentally and swung it around. Nothing happened and she pulled her arm back into the tunnel.
Sighing, Fiora put her shield over her head and ran into the room as fast as she could. She ran straight through, keeping her shield over her head as she heard the tell-tale noises of slimes disconnecting from the ceiling. As she ran, one slime dropped right in front of her. Not pausing, she jumped over the slime and kept on moving. As she neared the other side, she felt a slime land on top of her shield. The shield was enchanted to prevent it from being eaten or dissolved, but the sudden increase in wait fumbled her hand caused her to become momentarily distracted. She tripped over another slime and slammed into the ground near the next tunnel.
Her reflexes kicked in, honed through many battles, and she rolled away to her left, dodging a slime that had fallen on her downed position. She leaped up and drew her sword as she backed toward the hall. Her friends called out to her from the other side, but were too distracted by their own slimes to help.
She eyed the monsters before her. These slimes were blue, signaling another new species; one that she unfortunately had no experience with. Before her eyes, the slimes shook and changed into blue insects. The bug slimes were strange; possessing all the parts of a bug but at the same time did not resemble any one type. She could see locusts, beetles, and ants intermingled together as they marched toward her.
"They are lesser mimic slimes!" She heard Jonas call to her, "They can move the same way as their form, but are still slimes."
'Good to know.' She thought wryly to herself, taking a ready position.
The bugs swarmed her, jumping and snapping at her. Taking a deep breath, Fiora swung her blade as a locust slime leapt at her. She cut through to its core as she twirled around and cur the heads off two ant mimics at her feet. Their bodies regrew heads and resumed their attack on her.
Cursing, she threw a fire potion at them and rolled to her shield. The potion exploded in fiery death as the mimic slimes dissolved under its oppressive heat. She sliced the beetle slime on her shield and picked it up just in time to bash another locust mimic into the floor. Using the flat shield as a base, she spun it and stood on one arm as her sword cut two beetle slime down their middle. She flipped back and moved her sword arm behind her.
Focusing her mana, she infused the sword with fire and lashed out in an arc in front of her. The sword released a wave of fire that melted the slimes in front of her. A pain on her leg alerted her to an ant slime that had made its way through to her. Wincing, she sliced its core and backed up to the wall.
As the remaining few slimes approached her, arrows hit each of them and killed them as she watched. Sighing in relief, she slid to the floor and let her breath escape her.
Gran hurried over to her, taking out a potion as he knelt down. "The good news is that it didn't break the skin." He reported as he inspected the bite, which had occurred between her armor plates, "The mimics can't make themselves sharp, which is a small blessing." He dabbed the slime burn potion on her, and she sighed as the slight burn faded away.
Nat glared at Fiora as Nic and Gran helped her up, "Fearless leader, I really wish you wouldn't act according to your title. I was really scared for a moment."
Fiora chuckled, "In truth, so was I. I even had to use one of my fire potions to escape." She frowned at her belt. Fire potions were useful for dealing with crowds, but the ingredients for it were found in the mountainous regions far from the plains and had to be shipped at cost to the city. They didn't come cheap enough to buy in loads, but every experienced adventurer carried at least two at all times.
Jonas inspected the dissolving slime as it faded away, "None of the reports ever mentioned mimic slimes. Herb and Grey slimes were thought to be the only new varieties, but I guess that isn't true is it? In any case, the guild will pay for this new information." He picked up a slime core and a beetle shell. "The shell is slightly bigger after being eaten by the slime it seems. If memory serves, these shells can be used in certain paints if enough are gathered."
Nic snorted in amusement, "How would a beetle shell be used for paint?"
Jonas held the shell up to a torch and moved it. The shell twinkled red in the torchlight. "As you can see, this is from a red beetle. When crushed, the shell produces a red pigment that can be used to create red paints. The beetle isn't from the area though; it originates from the more lush forests to the south. I'd say one of our merchants misplaced a shipment of them and they ended up in the dungeon to be eaten. The other parts have their own uses as well."
Nat frowned at the scattered cores and loot, "Gross. Insects are disgusting and I don't want to have anything to do with them." She folded her arms and stared her brother down, who held his hands up in a pleading gesture.
"No one is making you collect the parts. Tell you what, you watch our fearless leader and we men will collect them okay?"
The girls had a fun time pointing out every locust leg or ant mandible the guys missed. They decided it was more prudent to report their findings to the guild as soon as possible to prevent less experienced adventurers from falling to the new species.
Later that day, the guild announced that the dungeon difficulty had been raised from E to D, and E ranked adventurers were not permitted to enter unless escorted by someone of a higher rank.