System Change

Chapter 28: Dungeon

Chapter 27: Growth

Derek rose from his meditative state at sunrise. He took in a deep breath and let it out while stretching. Meditating is so much better than sleeping. Its much easier to enter a meditative state than it is to fall asleep. Plus, if I were to enter deep enough, I could sit there for days or weeks without feeling time passing by. Derek could not help but to appreciate his Greater Meditation skill. It was his favorite skill and the one that he could not do without.

After stretching, he looked around at the clearing he made the night before. All that was left of his campfire were some still smoking coals, but no fire. The bunny was already up and bouncing around. Derek was kind of surprised that the creature had chosen to stay rather than up and leaving. It probably thinks of me as an easy meal ticket. He pondered.

Finally, Derek began his slow trek through the forest once again. The horned rabbit fell in behind them and they walked. Soon, they fell into a rhythm. Derek would Identify anything he saw, while the bunny would attack. Then Derek would heal his makeshift companion. If needed, he would help the bunny out in its fight. As long as he did not damage the monster, directly or indirectly, he would receive no experience. After the fight, he would Dismantle what was left of the bunnys opponent.

Derek made sure that he was constantly heading into the part of the forest with the most disease. With the duo taking their time, days passed, then weeks.

***

Two weeks after entering the forest, the notification that Derek had been waiting for appeared.

Congratulations

Identify skill has reached level 10

Finally! Now I can be sure that a monster is at least 100 levels above me. With the Identify skill reaching level 10, he could finally Identify any system creature at level 111 or lower. This meant that if question marks came back, the enemy was over one hundred levels above him, and that he could go for the kill.

His Dismantle and Rejuvenation skills also leveled up in his two weeks of travel. Dismantle leveling all the way up to level 8, and Rejuvenation hitting level 5. So far, this trip has been super successful. Two new skills, and a lot of skill levels. Now, all I have to do is get the damn Award, then I can get out of here.

Derek used Identify on the horned rabbit again.

Horned Rabbit

Level 59

A rabbit native to forests and other lush areas.

I cant believe that this little fella has already gained five levels. He could tell that the rabbit was hitting harder based on the occasional thud he felt in his back. Maybe the little fellow invested some stat points into Intelligence. It hasnt been acting near as stupid as it was before. He smiled and shook his head, then kept trudging through the forest.

As Derek walked, he could feel that he was getting closer to the center of the diseased area. His rabbit companion had begun acting timidly. It was no longer hopping along happily, but cautiously following behind Derek. He could tell that something was making it wary.

For the past days, Derek had not run into any animal that did not have adiseased modifier attached to its name. The monsters were, however, of a much higher level than before, the highest one so far being a level 94. The bunny was smart enough to not want anything to do with these diseased monsters, opting to stay far away.

Derek also avoided the higher level monsters, not because he was afraid, but because he did not want to accidentally gain any more levels.

Derek noticed that the sound of the rabbit that was usually behind him had stopped. He turned and looked. The horned rabbit was just sitting there, not moving. “Are you coming?” He asked. The rabbit made no moves. Derek sighed. Looks like I finally hit the point in the forest where it will no longer follow.

Derek was a little sad that he would be losing his travel companion, but he had known that their partnership would not last long. He had no beast taming abilities, and the rabbit liked to headbutt anything it saw. If it was to follow him out into civilization, it would commit a massacre by complete accident.

He turned back and headed deeper into the diseased forest. He heard the rustling behind him and took a glance. The bunny had fled back the way they came. Good luck, buddy.

As Derek continued, he surveyed the forest. Withered, dead trees were fallen everywhere. There was not a green plant in sight. In fact, the forest had been nothing but shades of grey and brown for days now. It was a wonder that the horned rabbit stuck with him as long as it did.

Where Derek was, it was quiet. There were no birds chirping or animals rustling. It was like he had been moving closer and closer to the eye of a hurricane. It seemed like something straight out of a horror film. He had a feeling like something would pop up and try to kill him at any second.

Derek did not like that feeling, so he increased his speed. After days and weeks of walking through the forest at a turtles pace, he began speeding along, not caring about any noise he made along the way. Previously, he was avoiding any contact with monsters because he did not want to accidentally earn experience. Now, there did not seem to be any monsters for him to avoid.

He rushed past wilted shrubbery and jumped over fallen trees. Then he saw it. A pale grey ball of… something. The sphere was the size of a giant beach ball from his old world, being about a meter and a half tall and wide. The sphere was floating about half a meter off the ground. It was moving in changing patterns, never rotating the same way for too long.

At first, Derek thought that the ball of what he assumed was some kind of energy was a portal. But after studying it for some time, the differences between the portals he had seen on Earth, and what he was seeing now were clear as night and day. Derek was sure of one thing though, this object was the cause of the disease in the forest.

Really wish I would have gotten more information about dungeons before I took off. If this is a dungeon entrance, then it is nothing like the entrances to the dungeons that I am used to. Derek made a note to seek out Thomass grandfather and get any information about dungeons that he could from the man. Rookie mistake Derek, rookie mistake…

With the way Robert had explained the dungeons and their overflow, Derek had just assumed that they would be similar in look. Hell, I dont even know if this is a dungeon or not. My theories and hypotheses from before may have just been completely wrong.

He tried to use Identify on the orb, but it had no effect. Why cant things ever just be easy? Now, Im going to go over and its going to suck me in and make me spend years trapped in a space again. He shook his head and removed the scary thoughts from his mind.

Derek calmed himself and worked up the courage to move forward. He slowly approached the floating orb, cautiously proceeding towards it, step by step. When he was near it, he was able to make out an almost imperceptible humming sound coming from it.

He finally got within arm ’s reach and slowly stretched out his right arm, all the while chanting in his head. Dont trap me, dont trap me, dont trap me. Finally, his hand hovered centimeters from the orb. He held his breath, then rested his hand on it.

Huh… Nothing? And here I was expecting to be sucked in or blown away. The most odd thing about the whole situation was that the ball was still rotating below his hand, but he could feel no movement. It was like his hand was on a solid surface.

Well, that was a letdown. He released his breath and pulled his hand back, or at least tried to pull his hand back. His hand was stuck and could not move. Fuck, I knew something was going to happen as soon as I relaxed.

He was stuck. No matter how hard he pulled or moved, he could not get his hand off of the orb. Finally, he stopped resisting and thought about what he was going to do. I wonder if my high Vitality can grow back limbs. He looked at his right hand and shuddered. Lets keep that as a last resort. Why is it only my right hand, why can my left hand touch it without problem? He reached out and rested his left hand beside his right, just to compare the differences.

While he was deep in his thoughts, a system message appeared directly in front of him, instead of going to the norm place at the bottom right of his vision.

Dungeon Countdown Timer Depleted

Participants: 1/5

View Dungeon

Enter Dungeon

Leave

Oh. Well, thats much less scary.

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