After leaving town Joshua's group and Adrian's joined together as they headed through a portal towards an area that Adrian and the others had already been to before. Jayce's group headed back to the hub city to resupply and prepare to grind the dungeon full of wild dogs so they went their separate ways this time around. The new area they appeared in after going through the portal was far hotter than the one they had just left. There wasn't a pleasant wind or anything to cool them off like there was near the town. Even though it was getting late in the afternoon it felt like they had just walked into an oven and Joshua immediately knew why. They were now standing in a dry desert that was filled with cracked earth for as far as Joshua could see. The sudden change in environments was the main reason the heat seemed so impactful and he'd have to remember that in the future if he ever ran into a situation where he was coming from a snowy place to a tropical or dessert area.
The first thing Joshua noticed about the desert was the fact that it wasn't one of those deserts that were filled with sand as far as the eye could see like you would normally think of, but was instead a simple dry area with crack earth instead. The ground was so barren of water that the earth felt incredibly hard and compact while the only plants they could see in the entire area were a few cactuses that had managed to grow to unbelievable sizes. He was certain that it wasn't a normal occurrence before everything changed, but now it could happen just about anywhere. If the animals could change why wouldn't the plants be able too? After getting a good look at his surroundings Joshua turned back to look at his group that were now all fully outfitted and ready for combat.
Joshua had already known all about Lilly and Amy's gear before going on this expedition, but this was the first time for him to see the gear of the rest of the group. Adrian definitely had the look of a swordsman as he wore extremely light leather armor to give himself a full range of movements with a coat over top of it. On his waist he had four swords strapped to him with two on each side. Joshua could tell that the ones strapped higher up were a different type of sword from the ones set beneath them and it was probably done that way for a reason. Joshua knew that Adrian preferred to fight with two swords at a time whenever he could get away with it so he was interested in seeing how his set up would work in combat.
Aito was the next one he had started to examine and he wasn't surprised at all by all of the military gear the man was set up in. He had the usual combat boots of a military member along with a set of soft armor that covered his whole body including a helmet that he wore for protection. Of course with the materials they had been gaining from the dungeons the soft armor wasn't just good enough to block bullets anymore, but was now comparable to the leather armor the rest were wearing. The whole set up made it way easier for him to blend in to dark places and get the attention off of him which was exactly what he wanted. When it came to gear he was completely set up with an assault rifle on his back alongside a shotgun. He also had a pair of hand guns on his waste that were designed to use all sorts of ammo that he could take out of his inventory at any time with his reload skill. Joshua was fairly certain that Aito would definitely have a sniper rifle as well in his inventory for surprise attacks when given the opportunity.
Last but not least was Henry who was decked out in a large robe that fluttered behind him a bit. It was opened up in the front which made it seem more like a cloak, but it was a bit to hefty for that. There was also light armor underneath to protect his vital spots just in case he took a hit, but he wasn't going to be on the front lines at any point if they could help it. For his weapon he had a staff that looked sort of like one from the old stories of wizards like Merlin. It was clearly not meant for close combat, but would instead help him channel his spells from a distance. He seemed to be scanning the area for a moment before waiting for the rest to be ready to head on.
"Well then where is this place you guys were talking about taking us to?" Joshua asked getting a big grin in return from Adrian.
"It's a dungeon that we weren't able to complete the last time we came through. It was a bit tricky and required us to have a tank if we wanted to make it through without any massive injuries. Besides it would be a great first test for us working together. We already know the lay out of the place so we won't have to worry about figuring everything out. The only thing we do have to worry about is another group trying to clear the place as well. It's a bit of a special dungeon so I wouldn't be surprised if other people were making the effort to clear it." Adrian said getting a confused look from Joshua, Lilly, and Amy.
"What do you mean? What makes it different from any other dungeon?" Amy asked a bit confused. While Adrian was trying to figure out the best way to explain things Henry decided to step in to make things flow a little better.
"The dungeon is short, but is rather complex. If you're not careful then you could get trapped in it for days without figuring out the proper way to finish it. Luckily I mapped the place out the last time we came through, but even so it was a shifting dungeon so I can't say for sure if it will be exactly the same this time around." Henry said getting a nod from Aito and Adrian.
"What do you mean by shifting dungeon? Does it constantly change paths or something like that?" Joshua asked and Henry smiled before nodding.
"Yes the place is constantly shifting and you have to figure out the proper path forward if you want to get to the end of the dungeon. Plus the monsters inside are quite challenging and can throw you of course if you take too long fighting them. I mean imagine following a path that is about to shift in the wrong direction and you're in a rush to get to the end of it only for a beast to get in your way. If you end up taking too long then the path could shift and your whole group will be displaced in the wrong direction. That's the type of dungeon it is." Henry finished explaining.
"Yeah it makes it so that the dungeon can either be the shortest or the longest depending on how things go inside. It's all up to how you handle things in the end." Aito said after Joshua's group seemed to understand how the place worked for the most part.
"Is there any reason you guys seemed so dead set on getting this dungeon in particular though?" Lilly asked getting everyone to turn to look at her. "I mean you're going out of your way to come back even though we have other training areas where we don't have to worry about other groups getting in the way of our exploration. It just seems a little weird that you guys want to have to deal with other groups under the circumstances."
"True, usually we would just let the dungeon go since a lot of other groups have been around the area and have tested the place out, but this one is special for one reason and one reason only. The raw materials that you can gain from the dungeon are incredibly rare in comparison to other places that we've been to so far. We haven't even beaten the boss, but the materials we came across while exploring the dungeon and killing the sub-boss were all high grade and useful. That's especially the case when it comes to armor and poisons." Henry explained.
"The place is a gold mind for such things and would be incredibly useful for getting good equipment for the alliance for when we decided to go after the large town finally. It would be good gear and the poison could be useful in keeping the haze creatures from regenerating." Aito said.
"Well it's not too far from here, but we'll probably come across some beast while making our way to it. The place is pretty barren looking so it's kind of hard to avoid attention from any creatures in the area. They could spot us from a mile away with no cover to hide in." Adrian said as Joshua took notice of the fact. So far they hadn't seen any creatures, but the dessert like environment was pretty spread open so he wouldn't be surprised to see something come charging over sometime soon.
"What kind of creatures live in this area?" Lilly asked with excitement as if she was looking forward to taming.
"Well from what we've seen so far the only things we came across were some large lizards and a hell of a lot of scorpions." Adrian said before everyone could hear the clatter of footsteps from far away. Joshua turned to look in the direction and he could see a ton of dust blocking the view of whatever was charging towards them. "Looks like we've got a scorpion coming are way already. Get ready guys, these things are heavily armored and take a lot to put down."
Joshua took his scale blade from his back and prepared to fight when Aito tapped him on the shoulder then waived him off. "Let us handle it this time around so you guys can get a better idea of how we fight. Just watch." He said before pulling two rather large custom hand guns off his waste and walked forward. Adrian took the lead and was already well ahead of them and preparing to take the creature's charge head on with a big grin on his face. Henry and Aito both stayed back, but Henry was already getting to work he casted a couple of enchantments right away even though Joshua wasn't exactly sure what they were for right away it didn't take him very long to figure out. The first enchantment seemed to put a yellow glow around Adrian and Joshua could see little shield like images floating around him. The second enchantment was on both of them and it put a red glow around them.
When the large scorpion like creature got close enough to slam into Adrian Joshua was interested in seeing how he would handle it. He knew even though Adrian was at a far higher level than him he wasn't a tank and didn't have extraordinary vitality or aura to protect him. So it would be interesting to see how he filled the role of a tank for the group in the upcoming fight. It didn't take long for him to find out. Adrian took the two blades near the bottom of his waste out and they seemed longer than the other pair. He could also tell the blades were much heavier in comparison to the short sword he usually used.
The scorpion quickly tried to grab up Adrian but its large claw was redirected as Adrian batted it away with one of his swords just enough for it to miss him. The scorpion seemed surprised by this, but its stinger came flying for Adrian's head next. He used his other sword to knock it slightly off course while twisting to counter the attack. The stinger just glided by his head and instead of hitting Adrian it hit one of the yellow shields that was floating around him. It was in that moment that Joshua found out what those were for. The shield seemed to catch the scorpion's stinger for a moment and stunned the creature in place. It wasn't for more than a split second, but it was more than enough time for Adrian to get to work. He sliced at both of the creature's claws in and instant before twisting and cutting its large stinger as well.
The creature didn't seem to notice at first since it was so heavily armored, but when its stunned state ended there were large cracks in the places where Adrian had cut it. The swords seemed to do their job well against the armored opponent and Aito took perfect advantage of it. Before the large creature could back off he shot two charged shots towards the ground and everyone watched as they ricocheted off the ground and hit the large creature directly in the spots where Adrian had left the cracks at. The attacks completed blasted off the creatures large claws and it screamed in pain trying to back away to safety, but Adrian was already in its face once again. It tried to attack him with its stinger once again, but Adrian's sword seemed to glow red for a moment as he slashed at the crack he had created earlier and cut the entire stinger off. He slammed his other sword into its face creating another large fracture before leaping back.
Before the scorpion could even react a large blast hit it directly in the weak spot that Adrian had created and pierced through its head. A moment later it slumped over and Joshua could feel a pretty large amount of experience even though he hadn't lifted a finger.