94 Chapter 40: Dungeon Hidden In the Marsh Part 6
The room they entered was even bigger than the large prison room they had just come from. That alone was rather ominous of what they were probably getting themselves into, but the fact that more than half of the room was filled with water wasn't a good sign either. Although Joshua could probably fight underwater for a little bit, at this point he would get torn apart by any boss class monsters in such a situation. Considering that there was so much water it was highly likely that whatever they were about to face would thrive in the environment.
There was some solid ground to stand on spread throughout the room in various ways. On each side of the room was a large strip of floor to walk across. These strips were next to the entrance and the exit of the room, so Joshua knew exactly where he had to go if he wanted to proceed any further through the dungeon. Between these two strips of flooring there was only four platforms to stand on that were spread out evenly in the open space of water. These platforms were in the shapes of circles and were big enough for something twice the size of Mr. Hoppy to be able to comfortably stand on. That gave Joshua plenty of room to maneuver around the area, but he highly doubted he would have any advantage when it came to mobility in the upcoming fight.
"This doesn't look very favorable for us." Joshua said as he turned to look towards his partner who seemed far more serious than he had ever seen her be in their short time together.
"We have to help him. Whatever they're doing in that prison can't be good if it's causing the poor guy to scream out in pain like that." Lilly said with a frown.
"Scream out in pain? I didn't hear any screaming." Joshua asked a bit surprised.
"I can hear it through my aura. He was able to connect with me just like the rest of my pets, but only for a moment." Lilly said as she turned to look towards Joshua. "It sounded like he was being tortured."
"Well then we better get to it then, I have no clue what we're up against, but make sure to keep your safety a priority." Joshua said getting a nod in response. "Also make sure to keep your presence hidden during the fighting and just boost me from a distance. If you see a chance for your pets to get in some hits then go for it, but try to stay at a distance." Joshua took a deep breath before he steeped towards the edge of the floor and looked down into the murky water that didn't give him much of an idea of what lurked beneath.
The fact that he hadn't seen any hint of what they were up against since they entered the room gave him the feeling that the fight probably wouldn't start until he stepped onto one of the isolated platforms. He took a deep breath before signaling Lilly to stand back and hide her presence. She followed his advice and stayed as far away from the upcoming conflict as possible while having Mr. Hoppy at the ready to help out at any opportunity. If she had to Mr. Hoppy could swim in the water if they had to get away from the location they were at. Of course the frog was faster in water, but it was highly doubtful it would be all that much faster than whatever abomination they were going to face. That's why staying on land as much as possible was her goal.
The moment Joshua jumped on to one of the platforms a loud hum could be heard that shook the room ever so slightly. It was even more noticeable do to the ripples in the water that were created from the shock waves created by the shaking. Not to soon after the shaking stopped white light started to shine from all of the platforms in the room. It was similar to the archway gate that they had used to get into the dungeon in the first place. The white light spread from the platforms and down into the water as they etched their way down the side of the platforms before coming back up and climbing the walls of the room. Soon the dimly lit room was covered completely in white lines that shined brightly for a while until they slowly dulled down to a more gentle brightness that no longer blinded everyone in the room.
That's when Joshua could hear a gurgling sound come from the water as bubbles started to float to the surface and grab his attention. Soon he could hear something swimming in the murky water beneath him, but do to how dark the water was he wasn't able to make out whatever was making its way to the surface. He stood at the ready to defend himself as he could feel the aura of two separate creatures making their way up from the depths of the pool around him, and whatever these creatures were their aura was far denser than any other monster he had faced in this dungeon up to this point. It wasn't as large and oppressing as the alligator had been, but it was close to that level and this time around there were actually two of them instead of one. Based off of how fast they were moving around in the water he was sure these creatures were far faster than the lake guardian had been and that was the main reason he was able to take that behemoth down at the time.
Of course Joshua had grown stronger sense the fight with the alligator, in fact he had gained a total of three level sense then if you included the level he gained from taking down the big guy as well. Three levels of full potential growth was not a small amount of strength gain, but if he had faced that alligator again as he was now he still wouldn't be able to out power it in raw strength. Hopefully these creatures they were about to face had speed as their primary ability, because if they were extremely strong as well then Joshua would be in a tough spot. Just as he was thinking this a loud splash came from the water as two figures busted their way out of the water and landed on two of the platforms across from Joshua.
The two beast that stood in front of him were large, but not quite on the same scale as the alligator had been. That of course didn't make them any less dangerous though as Joshua was observing how threatening they could possibly be. They were clearly some sort of lizards, but they were more of an aquatic species than any he had seen up to this point. Instead of large scales along their arms and legs they had fins that were clearly designed to help them swim faster than usual. They still had some rather large clawed hands that had no problem tearing into their opponents while on land, but Joshua could tell they were far more deadly in the water. They had long tails that would help them propel themselves forward while swimming along with a ridge along their backs that looked like a massive fin that flared out the moment they jumped out of the water.
Both creatures were eyeing Joshua with hungry eyes, but they clearly hadn't been able to sense Lilly who was hiding in the corner with Mr. Hoppy ready to attack at any moment. They both opened their mouths wide and let out loud hisses in Joshua's direction while showing their sharp teeth that seemed particularly green in Joshua's opinion. In all likely hood they were probably covered in some kind of poison that the lizards would use whenever biting their opponents. When Joshua observed their levels he found that both lizards were level twenty-five and both had four stars next to their names. 'This is going to be tough.' Joshua thought before he made sure the party chat was open so he could talk to Lilly easily if he was put into a position where he couldn't speak out loud.
Before he could do anything else one of the lizard sprayed out a large torrent of some sort of acid in Joshua's direction which he jumped out of the way of. The other lizard dived back into the water and started circling Joshua from below. It was clear to him that it was waiting to attack him at the perfect time. After avoiding the first attack Joshua rushed over towards the lizard that was still on one of the platforms and allowed his aura to flare to full strength before confronting his opponent. He could feel Flutter's boost ability strengthen his body even more as he jumped across to the same platform the lizard was on.
The moment Joshua got close it turned around and swung its long tail at him which Joshua blocked with his scale blade. The impact sent him stumbling back a few steps, but considering he wasn't even using his aura hardening that was a pretty good result in his mind. He was sure that the tail was probably the hardest hitter the lizard had sense its arms were so short. All of his other abilities probably leaned more towards poisoning him than overpowering him. He once again jumped out of the way as the lizard lunged forward and tried to bite his head off. He wanted to retaliate by striking at its wide open flank, but he could hear a splash from the water behind him and rolled out of the way as a large amount of acid was shot in the spot he had just been standing.
'So that's how they're going to play this.' Joshua thought as he could feel the aura of the lizard in the water once again dive underneath and start circling the platforms. If he could get one on its own then Joshua was sure with time he would be able to take it down considering the scales on the creatures didn't seem nearly as thick or strong as the alligators had been. With a few well-placed swings of his scale blade he might even be able to kill one of them, but there speed and the fact that they seemed to work so well together was going to get in the way of that.
Taking a deep breath Joshua blocked the charge of the lizard that turned back around and was trying to knock him off his feet, but he stood his grown even as he was almost pushed off the platform. It was in that moment that Joshua could feel another glob of acid coming from behind him, but this time it wasn't aimed at him, but instead at ones of the eyes of the lizard he was struggling against. Joshua bashed the creatures head back a little bit so he could separate from it before the acid landed right on its face and covered one of its eyes. This enraged the creature as it turned its attention in the direction of Lilly now that it could tell she was there. Joshua could also sense the aura of the lizard in the water turning in her direction, but Joshua wasn't about to lose their attention. Lilly had given him the perfect opening and Joshua was going to make good use of it.
He rolled to the side of the lizard where it was now blinded by the acid and prepared to lay into it as it was distracted. He put all of his strength into one clean blow onto its back with his natural aura infused into the blade along with an aura blast charged into it as well. He followed that up with an echo strike before jumping into the air and swinging down harshly on to the creature's spine. Unsurprisingly do to the creature's smaller size and weaker defense than the alligator Joshua was able to tear through its scales with ease. The blow completely crippled it and crushed its spine causing the lizards to scream in pain. This grabbed the attention of the other lizard that was heading in Lilly's direction, but it was too late for it to help its partner. The echo strike completely severed the already damaged spine causing the beast to crumple over onto the platform.
Joshua was about to finish it off when he heard a roar sound out behind him and he dodged out of the way as its partner jumped on to the platform. Joshua was prepared to defend himself by the time he finished his roll, but instead of a charging lizard waiting for him he was met with the scene of the perfectly healthy lizard tearing into the chest of its partner. This shocked both him and Lilly as Joshua could feel her aura grow uncomfortable at the scene before them. Soon the lizard ripped out its partner's core and swallowed it whole before it seemed to be finished with its meal. Its body started to glow brightly as it seemed satisfied with itself and then it watched as the carcass of its partner started to break down into a white dust before it swirled into a cloud around the platform. Soon all of the dust coalesced around the surviving lizard as it seemed to grow in size and gain even more fins on its body.
When it was finished the creature could barely fit on the platform anymore as it glared at Joshua then turned to look at Lilly for a moment as well. It grinned a bit before jumping off and diving into the water. At first Joshua was worried it was going to go after Lilly, but that went right out the window when he could feel the platform he was standing on suddenly start to crumble beneath him as the large creature crashed into it from below. He was left with no choice, but to dive into the water as all the other platforms seemed to have the same fate as the one he was standing on. He closed his eyes and used his aura to sense where the lizard was sense the water was too dark for him to get a clear view of his surroundings. What he saw through his aura was the behemoth lunging on to the platform near the door that Lilly was standing on.
Before the creature could attack her she forced Mr. Hoppy to lunge out of the way and dive into the water sense their wasn't much room to move around on the platform anymore. At least in the water Mr. Hoppy could move a bit faster, but Joshua knew that the lizard was much faster and would chase her down soon enough if given the chance. So he used an aura blast from his feet to send him careening in the direction that Lilly was headed and made it just in time as the large beast was about to bite into the frogs backside. He moved in the way and used his aura shield to block its assault causing the lizard to be surprised by the situation, but instead of panicking it simply bit down harder on the shield to lock Joshua in place before diving deep down into the water. Joshua was trapped in the situation, but he was prepared to finish off the lizard in a similar way to how he had killed the alligator, but before he could charge his next attack his aura shield crashed into the floor at the bottom of the pool.
The situation caused a large whole to form in the floor and this new hole started to suck in the water of the pool greedily. The force of the whirlpool that was forming split Joshua and the lizard apart, but it kept Joshua from being able to escape the pull of the water. Through his aura Joshua could sense that Lilly had already gotten back up onto the platform and out of danger, but now that the water was draining he was put into a situation where he wasn't able to avoid the lizard's next attack. He could see its large mouth of jagged teeth about to clamp down on him and he no longer had the aura shield to protect himself.
Joshua gritted his teeth and used aura hardening to make his defenses as high as possible in that moment. He had already holstered his scale blade sense it was difficult to use underwater against such a fast opponent and he took out the much smaller short sword on his waist. At the last moment before the lizard was going to chomp his head off he slightly moved out of the way and felt a jolt of pain shoot up his arm as the creature bit into his arm and shoulder. It wasn't able to bite clean through due to his aura hardening, but he could still feel it tear into his muscle a bit. He pulled himself close to its face so that the lizard wouldn't be able to tear his arm off and he stabbed the short sword into its eye to get a little revenge along with making it easier for him to hang on.
He could feel the poison from the creatures mouth try to affect him, but his will was strong enough to make it feel like nothing more than a numbing annoyance that messed with his nerves a little bit. As the water continued to drain away Joshua made sure to force the sword deep into the creature's eye and when he couldn't dig in anymore in the regular way. He let go of the sword and focused aura onto his balled up fist and punched the blade all the way into the creature's brain. The impact of the aura blast was enough to dig it in deep enough to destroy its brain, but he continued punching for good measure until all the water was drained out of the room and he could feel his body grow in strength once again as he could feel himself gain another level. Now he just had to figure out how to get his arm free.