The right path at first seemed like a similar tunnel to the others, but that immediately changed when they came across actual stairs that went downward. That alone would have been a pretty clear sign that it was the correct path to take, but if he hadn't gone through the other paths first he would have missed out on some treasure along with the puzzle pieces that he'd probably end up needing in the future if things continued the way they were going. The second thing he noticed about the right path was the fact that it was dimmer than the others. Luckily Cinder was out front and glowing brightly making it easier to see.
He wasn't surprised that a dungeon with beast that preferred to dig through the ground was more on the dim side than anything else. It would be an advantage to them over normal enemies that came into their territory. It wouldn't be too much of an advantage though since the things made so much noise whenever they moved around. There loud abrasive chewing from whenever they dug through the dirt could be heard from further than most people could see. These creatures were definitely not stealthy no matter how much of an advantage the world dungeon tried to give them.
After reaching the end of the stairs the path seemed to open up more, but in Joshua's eyes that was a bad thing. Soon he could tell exactly why that was a bad thing when he reached the next split up ahead. This time instead of an intersection or a two way split he was met with a large circular room with ten different ways to go if you didn't include the entrance they came through. This was like a hub area that lead to all different places in the dungeon and if they wanted to find all the puzzle pieces and treasures this place had to offer they were most likely going to have to go down each and every path. "Well shit." Joshua said aloud getting a chuckle out of Tank.
"There's a reason that higher level dungeons take so much longer than the ones you've been to before." Tank said with a big grin.
"Is that reason the unnecessary amount of paths you have to take to figure out the way to go?" Joshua asked with a frown as he looked down each path .All of them looked exactly the same from the outside so it was hard to judge. He could see that some lead straight while others curved off or went up or down. There were just so many different ways they could go he knew that his aura pulse wasn't really going to make much of a difference in this situation.
"With some dungeons it will be similar to this one. So many paths to go that it will take you a while just to explore the place while other dungeons will be more maze like. Hell some might even just be one long path with incredibly powerful monsters guarding the way. It all just depends in the end." Tank said before looking towards one of the paths. "My aura is being blocked off from trying to sense down that path so in all likelihood it is the right one to go down if we want to get to the next part of the dungeon. I just doubt you will be able to open it at this point."
"Well let's go check it out to see what we have to do to open it later. It probably has something to do with the puzzle pieces." Joshua said before leading the way down the path. He was starting to realize what the people at the ant hill must have felt like before Joshua and Lilly had arrived. Going down all sorts of paths just too blindly try to find the right way forward. At least in that dungeon it was easy for Joshua to figure things out since his aura pulse could show him which paths he could just ignore, but that wasn't the same case here. In this dungeon every path most likely either contained a treasure that he'd like to get, a key that he would need to open said treasure, or a puzzle piece that they'd need to open up the next section of the dungeon. It was going to take days just to try to finish exploring the dungeon.
When they reached the end of the path it widened even more to the point where it was big enough for Tank to move in if he was around three stories tall. It wouldn't accommodate his full size, but that was far more than any of the other paths could handle up to this point. At the end of the path there was a large gateway that covered the entire wall ahead. The gateway was made of bronze and there were three holes in it that seemed to need to be filled before the door could be open. At the moment Joshua wished he could just punch the thing down, but judging by its size he highly doubted that was a possibility.
"Well at least we know what the puzzle pieces are for now." Lilly said with a smile as she pointed to the three holes. "There are three circles that need to be filled and we have three pieces to three separate circles. I'm guessing that's what they will be used for in the end."
"Sad thing is I can't even sense what's on the other side of the door. It's like it's blocking off my aura perception in some way." Joshua said with a frown before turning to head back the way they had come. "In all likelihood there's probably a sub-boss or something behind the gates to block the way forward. I won't get my hopes up that it's the actual boss after all."
"Oh cheer up, just think of it as a prolonged adventure in the end and you will have much for fun." Lilly said with one of her silly smiles. Joshua just laughed a bit before focusing on what path to take next. Since in the end they would have to go down each and every single one of the paths he decided to just go down the nearest path to see what it held in store. Knowing that there would probably be some fighting up ahead Lilly had all of her pets ready for combat. Cinder and Tank were shrunk down to smaller sizes until they came across a fight that they would be needed for, while Jade leaped into Joshua's shadow to help him out. Lastly Lilly set comfortably on the back of her newly evolved frog that she seemed excited to test out.
The path they had chosen turned out to be a straight on one that lead to another room after a while of walking. The room was widened out, but Joshua could tell it wasn't the end of the path since he could see a continuation on the other side of the path up ahead. This time around they had company though that was bound to get in their way as they tried to make their way across the space. There were three of the large prairie dogs roaming the room as they munched on the walls a bit to keep their over grown teeth as sharp as possible. The sight was a little disturbing, but Joshua had heard of rodent animals that had to keep using their teeth otherwise they'd over grow to the point where they were useless or they could even hurt themselves with them.
In a dungeon where there was no other prey for them to chase after and eat they had to find another way to put their over grown teeth to use and this seemed to be the solution they had come up with. The dungeon itself was able to keep all of the creatures inside of it alive with just the mana and aura in the air so the creatures wouldn't die of starvation, but they still had to figure out how to handle their own issues that had nothing to do with food. Luckily since they had no food to eat they weren't pooping all over the place otherwise every dungeon they'd have gone to would have smelled like crap. Though he wouldn't be surprised if they ever came across a bat dungeon it would turn out that way, those things pooped like their lives depended on it.
"Alright it's just going to be me and Mr. Hoppy in this fight." Joshua said getting the others attention. He made sure not to talk loud enough to gain the attention of the prairie dogs, but he wasn't too concerned since they seemed busy at the moment. "Were going to test out and see how much he has improved. I'm going to let him do most of the fighting while I just keep the enemies in check."
"Oh, so you're going to act like an actual tank for a change." Lilly said with a smug smile.
"Hey, I tank just fine."
"Joshua you're a tank that does more damage than anybody else in the group. You hardly ever have to use any provoking skills since you do so much damage that the enemies just go straight for you anyways. The only time you ever actually act like a tank is during boss fights." Lilly said with a giggle getting a role of the eyes from Joshua in return.
"Alright, alright. I'm a tank in the loose since of the word. Just keep an eye out for any other enemies coming while we go take care of this. You ready to go Mr. Hoppy?" Joshua asked the frog which just stared at him for a moment before subtly nodding its head.
Joshua was the first one to charge into the room and head towards three prairie dogs. He knew that Mr. Hoppy had become bulkier stats wise even if it didn't appear that way from his looks, but in the end Mr. Hoppy's main role would be from a distance so he was making sure to keep that in mind. Soon all of the prairie dogs took notice of Joshua charging over and they screeched at him before trying to dig into the ground. Before two of them could even get underground they were both hit with a poison dart while the other one got away just in time. The two that had been poisoned both fell over before they could even start trying to squirm their ways into the holes. One was paralyzed and couldn't move while the other started turning a green tinge of color.
Joshua quickly rushed over to the paralyzed one and rammed his shoulder into it knocking it towards the poisoned one. Then he leapt back as the third prairie dog burst out from the floor a second too late. Mr. Hoppy then shot two more darts towards the already downed frogs. He poisoned the paralyzed one and paralyzed the poisoned one. He then shot over a ball of poison gas for good measure and watched as the two prairie dogs slowly died without being able to move an inch. The only surviving prairie dog glared towards the frog and was about to rush over when it was smashed in the face with a large ball of acid. After having gotten a good sense of Mr. Hoppy's new skills Joshua put the last creature out of its misery with a quick strong slice to the neck.
After the poisoned cloud cleared up he put all of the dead bodies of the prairie dogs into his inventory. He knew that two of them were harshly poisoned so they might not have much meaning for materials, but he planned on bringing them to Madalyn in the future. She could test out the frogs poison and see if she could find any use for it. At this point Madalyn might as well have been the greatest expert in poisons around so he was looking forward to her opinion.
With the roomed cleared out they continued down the path and spent over an hour just to explore the whole thing. There were two more open areas like the last one they had come across and Joshua, Jade, and Mr. Hoppy made quick work of them before moving on. When they finally reached the end of the path they came across a larger group of six of the rodents and they all worked together to take them out as quickly as possible. Sitting on the wall were three keys and nothing else. That alone stoked Joshua's fears of having to go down each and every single path to find the things they would need. It was going to be a long day.