117 Chapter 63: Breaking Through to the Dungeon Entrance
Joshua took a deep breath before turning towards Lilly. 'Alright were going to burst our way through from this point on. Let Cinder grow to full size and burn us a path forward. When we've created some distance between us and all the ants behind us do to the confusion you should summon Tank to guard our back.' Joshua explained getting a nod from Lilly along with Cinder who was sitting on her shoulder. 'Well you ready?'
'Ready as I'll ever be.' Lilly replied with a smile before Cinder Jumped off of her shoulder and started to grow into her full height. Her sudden appearance shocked all of the ants in the surroundings as she began to tower over every ant outside of the ant soldiers that were still a bit smaller than her. With a loud shriek Cinder let the power of her aura wash over all the ants before her heat started oppress the area. Then she shot out web into her surroundings which blocked off the path behind them while entangling some of the ants in front of them. It was something Joshua hadn't thought of off the top of his head and he was glad Cinder decided to do it.
Cinder followed up her webbing with a large cloud of smoldering smoke that spewed into the surroundings and burnt all of the ants that came into contact with it. Lilly was fine since she synchronized with Cinder the moment the fighting started, on the other hand Joshua was able to shrug the burning sensation off do to his aura shroud which protected him well enough. It still hurt, but he just grit his teeth and avoiding breathing it in as he charged across towards the pathway they needed to head for. Lilly followed close behind before she used the cover of the flaming smoke to summon Tank in between them and the large amounts of ants that were rushing over to the area in a frantic way. The fire smoke slowed them down, but it wouldn't hold for long.
When Tank appeared he let out a bellowing roar as he grew to full size and towered over everything in the room. He was a good floor of a building taller than Cinder and he was built like a building as well which made him look like a rather intimidating figure. When the smoke cleared many ants backed up at his presence the moment they noticed him, but soon they started chirping back and rushed forward now that the path was clear for them. Several of them were getting slowed down due to the webbing that Cinder had made before. Tank started to create several bubbles that held up the ants even more as they exploded when they either charged or flew into them.
Lilly summoned Mr. Hoppy who jumped up and landed on Tanks large shell and started spitting acid bombs at anything that tried to sneak up on the slow moving turtle. For the most part Mr. Hoppy was there to keep the flying ants from attacking from above and with Flutter boosting everyone's stats it was easier for Tank and Mr. Hoppy to hold the line. Tank would use a torrent blast to knock all the ants that got past the bubbles back and create havoc among their numbers before putting up more bubbles to hold the line. Luckily they were a ways away from the aphids so those larger creatures weren't a part of the force that was attacking Tank at the moment.
On the other side Cinder had leaped forward and slammed on to the top of one of the ant soldiers that got knocked back by the force of her assault. From what Joshua could see of the creature it was rather basic just like most of the other ants he had seen. The major difference was that its shell was much thicker and bulkier which allowed it to tank the brunt of Cinders assault and it had larger mandibles that it was trying to use to attack Cinder at the moment. She wisely leaped over the attack and shot some web into the creatures face causing it to grown in pain as it tried to rub the web off by scraping its head across the ground.
Meanwhile Joshua had slammed his scale blade into one of the legs of the other ant soldier that was trying to come over and help its fellow guard. The attack broke one of its legs and Joshua used the moment it faltered to leap up onto its back and completely cut off another leg sending the heavily armored ant tumbling onto its side. Although the creatures were more armored than their counter parts they still had extremely thin legs. Cinder had similar legs but they were much thicker and more powerful than the ants legs were. Even so Joshua was forced to leap out of the way as the ant rolled over. He then had to dodge as it bashed its head into the place where he landed. The force of the blow rocked the entire room.
These ants were powerful creatures able to lift things several times their own weight. So it came as no surprise to Joshua that their strength was their strong point. Luckily for him they weren't exactly fast or quick moving. He could see that clearly as Cinder leaped all around her target and ripped its legs off piece by piece while the poor thing was to slow to react in time. In such a situation its strength was absolutely useless. Cinder started to use fire magic to spout flames from her mouth and burn the ant alive which was Joshua's que to hurry up and finish his own opponent.
He dodged another one of the ants skull bashes before he covered the scale blade in aura and smashed it into the large insects head before it could fully pull it out of the ground. The force of the blow twisted the ant onto its back and created a heavy wound on its face. It started to squirm anxiously and Joshua used the chance to cut into its underbelly from the side that had its legs taken out of commission. With a few well-placed swings and aura blast the ant died and Joshua felt a surge of strength fill his body. He looked over to Lilly and saw that she had also gained a level as her aura slightly grew in stature. At the moment she was busy using flame magic to help Tank hold off the ants.
With both ant soldiers taken care of Joshua turned to shout back towards Lilly and Tank. "Alright guys were all done here. Let's get down the path before we get overrun. Push them back before we head inside!" Joshua shouted.
"No problem." Tank projected his voice as he started to absorb all of the moisture in the air. The place had several trenches filled with water so it wasn't too hard for him to find any. Cinder jumped up onto Tanks Shell while making sure not to squash Mr. Hoppy. She then concentrated some flame magic and combined it with Tank's torrent attack. The water came out scalding hot burning any ants it came in contact with while creating large waves of steam that spread throughout the area. The steam made it hard for the flying ants to stay in the air while also burning their wings and sending them crashing down below.
The havoc their combo attack created gave them all enough time to make it in to the path way. Tank had to shrink down a bit to fit through, but once they were all inside Cinder created a wall of flames to block the path along with smoldering smoke to help cover the way as well. Tank on the other hand started to leave a trail of bubbles behind them as they raced down the path. They didn't move to fast since Tank was with them, but at the pace they were going they were able to create several blockades behind them to give them time. Cinder even created several webs to block the path along with the help of Flutter who left her silk as well to slow them down alongside her poison clouds.
It didn't take them very long to come across more opposition when further down the path they ran into three ant soldiers that shrieked and charged forward to attack them the moment they came within sight. Tank took the lead this time and blasted one away with his torrent ability before slamming head into the other two. The force of their collision caused the whole path way the shake and Tank was able to hold up just fine against the two ants. Before they could try to regather themselves Cinder hopped over Tank and bit into the neck of one of them. Instead of using venom to slowly kill it she burst flames from her mouth and burnt deep into its neck before tearing its head off.
The other one was handled by Joshua who used a full combo of an aura blast with his scale blade followed by an echo strike to attack the exposed neck of his opponent. The first blow tore through its armor and half way into the neck while the aura blast nearly blew its head off. The echo strike finally finished things off with a clean cut to what was left. With two ants down the last one tried to charge forward but was met with an acid bomb to the face by Mr. Hoppy who was using his camouflage to keep himself hidden and help out from time to time. The attack surprised the ant and sent it off course which caused it to crash into Tanks shell instead of his head like it had intended. This of course caused it to fall back and Tank used the opportunity of its confusion to clamp onto its neck while stomping its back into the ground before ripping its head off viciously.
Before they moved on Cinder used the bodies to create a large flame to help block the path. On the other hand Flutter created more poison mist to cause the fire to spread even faster. The group then charged ahead for another long stretch before running into more ant soldiers that charged over recklessly. Whatever was up ahead they were completely desperate to protect by the way they attacked without a thought of how powerful the foes they were up against actually were. They made quick work of these ant soldiers with Tank taking the head on collisions while Cinder and Joshua took them down quickly. Mr. Hoppy would help out when he could and Lilly would use flame magic to damage the ants whenever given a chance or would turn around and create more bubble traps.
They kept charging ahead for what felt like hours and they could hear the hoard of ants behind them that was trying to catch up, but all the obstacles they left behind were doing their job incredibly well.
The entire time they ran up the path Joshua would use his aura pulse to see how much further they had to go. He noticed that by the way they were going they were headed towards the top of the ant hill in a way that none of the other tunnels they had traveled had done before. Soon they would reach the peak of the mountain and Joshua could tell from the sunlight that was starting to appear from up ahead. They had to kill a few more ant soldiers that stood in their way, but with their coordination they were able to make them into nothing more than walking, screeching, and moving piles of experience.
Finally they dashed out of the tunnel and came into a bright light that shone over the area. When Joshua looked up he could see the bright blue sky above the forest that used to hinder his view. It looked as though it was still only mid-day so he didn't have to worry about resting anytime soon and based off their location he assumed the entrance must have been nearby. He noticed a dome like energy field that covered the top of the mountain. It explained how nobody was able to get to the area just by scaling the mountain and he was sure several flying ants would be a pretty good hindrance as well.
At the same time the path behind them was blocked off with an energy field as well and any ant that tried to get through was burnt to a crisp. Eventually all the ants that had been chasing them turned around and headed back down.
"Well looks like we found the entrance to the dungeon." Lilly said as she pointed to a stairwell that lead downward at the center of the top of the mountain.
"Yep looks like we've found the place." Joshua said with a big grin.