They decided to take a quick break before entering the dungeon and had a meal before going inside. Lilly made sure to let out the horses in small groups of two at a time and allowed them to eat some grass for a few minutes before putting them back up. By the end of it took nearly two hours for them to get everything ready and have everyone full on food beforehand. There was still half a day left to go before it became night time so Joshua decided they might as well get the dungeon started now. They already had more than enough horses at this point and based off of the way Lilly felt about the prairie dogs he highly doubted they were going to tame any of them. They might as well have been diseased ridden New York style sewer rats in her eyes.
The first thing Joshua noticed when they entered the dungeon was the authentic flare the place had. Once again it was easy to tell that it was a world created dungeon and not a system one. The walls looked old and dirty with signs of claw marks from creatures that had probably roamed the dungeon before. He wouldn't have been surprised if the prairie dogs that they had just killed were free to go in and out of the dungeon considering they seemed to fill the role of guard dogs to a certain extent. It would explain all the marks along the wall so early into their exploration.
There weren't any depictions on the wall like back in the marsh dungeon so he doubted whatever creature was the boss of the dungeon had any hint of intelligence to it. The boss might be clever or even down right hard to deal with, but he highly doubted a boss that was somehow related to the dumb prairie dogs could have any type of human level intelligence like the lizard warlock seemed to have back then. Or even the elite ant and Ant Queen that both seemed smart enough to react differently in special situations.
The problem was the fact that this was a level fifty dungeon which meant that the creature at the end of it would be more powerful than those creatures even if it wasn't as smart. There was probably even some sort of gimmick to fighting it that could make things challenging for them. It would be fun to find out what it was and he was hoping they'd gain a lot of experience from exploring this new dungeon that was well above their level at this point.
Joshua sent out an aura pulse after they had taken a few steps inside the place and the first thing he noticed as the aura pulse was pushed through the rock and dirt that surrounded them was the fact this dungeon was enormous. The ant hill dungeon was rather big in size, but for the most part all of it was made to trick people into avoiding the real dungeon. It was all just one big trap that kept misleading explorers the entire time. This dungeon on the other hand felt like a giant maze that went deeper and deeper into the ground. It stretched out so far that his aura pulse barely gave him a glimpse of his surroundings. From what he could see there was no way he could think of the dungeon in floors since there were so many different levels where the paths went up and down and crossed each other.
The whole situation made Joshua sigh for a moment before he brought up his map preparing to start the long endeavor of mapping out the entire dungeon. In places like this they could easily get lost by taking one turn in the wrong direction. From what he could tell none of the turns lead to outside of the dungeon like with the ant hill, but they could easily cause them to get lost at a moment's notice. It was mainly because there were so many splits in the dungeon that went up, down, left , right, and any other which way that you could imagine.
What made things worse was the fact that the whole thing was underground which meant they would most likely run into several of those prairie dogs while exploring. Those disgusting things seemed to be much stronger when going underground and that was going to be a problem going forward. They would have to constantly keep an eye out for the prairie dogs just in case they came at them in large groups. The whirlpool idea might work well out in the open, but in small tunnels like the inside of the dungeon they wouldn't have the space to use that type of attack. At the moment Tank and Cinder could barely get much bigger than a story tall without having to struggle through the tunnel. That did mean that the prairie dogs would barely fit in the tunnels as well, but they seemed to love moving through the ground so that wouldn't be as much of a hindrance for them.
"So what do you think about this dungeon? Were you able to find anything interesting with your aura pulse?" Lilly asked while both Tank and Cinder looked at him with interest. He even got the odd feeling that Jade was looking towards him from within Lilly's shadow.
"Honestly I get the feeling this is going to be the longest dungeon we've ever been in and that might just be the first area alone." Joshua said with a sigh. "There are so many different directions to go that I'll have to spend most of my time mapping out the area with aura pulse instead of actually trying to find the way forward. Or we can just go random directions until we get lucky."
"How about we go with the map idea. I know you're lucky Joshua, but let's not get ourselves stuck in this place for days on end."
"…Fine." Joshua finally said as they moved further into the dungeon. Even he knew not to rely on his luck in every situation. It might help him out in a tight spot or give him a reward out of nowhere, but relying on it to lead the way just seemed like a dumb idea. As they moved further into the dungeon Joshua noticed that the walls although they were made out of dirt and rock still had a style to them that separated it from the ant hill. The tunnels didn't feel like they had just been recently made from creatures digging around like with the ants, but instead it felt as though they had been there for ages. This gave Joshua the idea that there was probably something greatly different about how this dungeon worked in comparison to the ant hill.
As they moved further in Joshua immediately noticed the fact that the claw marks he saw against the wall earlier on were fading at a rather quick pace. At first he thought it might be because the creature hadn't tried to claw their way out of the dungeon from so far away, but if that were the case he should have come across a hole or something at the starting point of the claw marks. The little mystery would get on his nerves if he didn't figure it out so he went back a few steps surprising the rest of the group and looked at where the claw marks had started to fade away.
"What are you doing Joshua?" Lilly asked with a bit of confusion at his sudden change in demeanor.
"It seems like he's trying to figure something out about this place." Tank said from on top of Lilly's shoulder. Cinder seemed to nod her head in agreement as well. "Though what that is I do not know myself."
Joshua continued to stare at the same spot for nearly a minute and that was when he was able to see what he was looking for. The claw marks along the wall were fading at a visible pace. If you were to just walk through you wouldn't have noticed this small detail since it was like watching paint dry to a certain extent, but at a faster pace. It wasn't fast enough to be easily noticeable if you didn't take your time and it wasn't so slow as to be pointless in the first place. "Well it seems this dungeon has the ability to fix itself continuously." Joshua said getting everyone else's attention.
"What do you mean? Fix itself as in if you broke a wall it would put itself back together or something?" Lilly asked.
"Well I'm not sure if it's to that extent, but it is possible. It explains why we don't see holes anywhere even though we know that the prairie dogs live inside this dungeon for the most part. The dungeon fixes any damage they make just like these claw marks. So we won't have to worry about the prairie dogs making false paths even though they're probably too stupid to do something like that in the first place anyways." Joshua explained.
"I guess that means we don't have to worry about going down the wrong path as long as we map it all out as we go." Tank said with a smug look before smiling and looking at Joshua. "That also means you have even more reason to map everything out then. We'll be counting on you to lead the way oh fearless leader."
Joshua frowned at the turtle's smug look, but just nodded his head before leading the way once again. It didn't take long for them to reach their first split, but instead of splitting out in front of him like with most dungeons he had come across at this point it was more like an intersection. A cross roads with each one leading in their own direction. Joshua used an aura pulse to see as far down each path as he possibly could, but in the end he didn't really make much out of it. He would have to go down each path in the end and map the place out if he wanted to figure out all of the secrets of the dungeon. He couldn't wait to have Henry in the group so he could handle this kind of stuff.
In the end he decided to head straight ahead first and keep going down the same path to see where it would eventually lead him. If they came across another intersection than they would come back to the first one and explore a different path. They'd repeat the process until they've mapped every portion of the dungeon and found everything of interest inside. He wasn't really worried about finishing the dungeon quickly since it was the first time anyone had entered it which meant the first clear was more important than the timing. The more stuff they found along the way the better rating they would get in the end anyways.
They continued to follow the path for a while until they came across what was a split this time instead of intersection. Joshua was able to see all the way down one path and saw it lead to a room with a treasure in it, but he could see a couple of large holes nearby showing it was most likely guarded by a at least two of those prairie dogs. The other path continued to stretch on for a long ways. Joshua marked the treasure on his map to come back to later and check out after he had finished going down the other path, well as long as he didn't come across another intersection.
Eventually the path he was following came to what looked like a dead end, but instead of just having a wall that blocked off their forward progress like he was expecting he saw two keys that were placed in front of him with a weird design to them. One was bigger than the other and it seemed to signify that they were used for different purposes. He wasn't quite sure what they were used for just yet, but he was certain they were probably going to be a main part of the dungeon if he could just find them out in the open like this. Well in the end it just meant another piece to the puzzle and Joshua had a good feeling it was going to be a long puzzle.