The fog was now at waist level as they waded their way through it until Henry started using his wind spell once again to clear the path forward. The area was even more dreary than the rest of the forest since all of the trees in the area were either withered to the point where they were breaking apart or had already collapsed into the fog altogether. The fact that it was night time only made things worse since the light that had been piercing the clouds before was now gone making it hard to see everything surrounding them. Things just went from looking like that of a supernatural film to a horror film where the stupid teenager is trying to run away from the creature by going into a forest with no idea how to get away.
Soon something different came within the vision of the group that was starting to get anxious do to their current environment. It glowed in the dark surroundings and stretched above the fog so that it was easy to see. It was a brilliantly green portal that had a fog of its own surrounding it that made it look like it was the entrance to some sort of dead zone. The light coming from the portal was the only thing lighting things up in the surroundings outside of the torches the group were using to see at night. They wanted to get to the dungeon before dark, but with all the constant fighting their pace was slowed down and they had to go with a change of plans.
The portal was clearly the entrance to the dungeon for the territory, but instead of just charging in like a bunch of idiots that just wanted more excitement, they decided to set up camp nearby along with equipment from the system to help repel any creatures from coming into the area. They didn't have to worry about any other human groups coming into the area since the only way to get to the territory was to go through the mountain range or James Town which were both impossible for people at the moment. Even so they would still keep guards out through the night just because of how creepy the surrounding area was in the end. Trying to sleep in such a place without any type of protection would just be asking for nightmares.
Henry set up a spell that cleared all of the fog in the surroundings and pushed it out to give them room for a camp site and their tents. There wasn't any decent wood around for them to use for fire if they wanted it to last the night so Joshua made sure to bring some out from his inventory to set up a campfire so they could get started on dinner. The plan was to be up early in the morning to take on the dungeon completely refreshed and ready for anything. They had no idea what this dungeon would try to throw at them in the end so they weren't going to rush ahead only to either get stuck in there for weeks trying to figure out what to do or end up facing something terribly powerful under their current tired circumstances. It just wasn't a good idea.
Everyone got to work helping set up camp in their own ways. Lilly and her pets helped clear out the area for a good resting spot along with checking the surroundings to make sure everything was clear while everyone else set up camp. Amy, Adrian, and Henry were all working on setting up the tents for the night along with any equipment they would need to protect the area from intruders. Lastly Joshua and Aito were both working on putting together dinner since they were the only two in the group who knew how to cook. Adrian, Henry and, Lilly could probably put a little something together if they were forced too, but Aito was the only one there who had cooking as a sub-job and was already considered experienced at it. Any food that he cooked well enough could actually buff the group so that left him and Joshua to be the two to work on the food since it would get the best results in the end.
When everyone had finished their task and diner was ready they all set around the fire eating pieces of some sort of deer meat that Aito had in his inventory from one of the territories he had gone to in the past. The meal was amazing and everyone gained a small four hour buff to all of their stats by five percent. It wasn't anything enormous, but every little bit helped and a boost in stats would be increased even more when several different boost were added on top of one another. During the meal the group was able to relax a bit, but the atmosphere was still on the tenser side in comparison to normal meals at night with the current surroundings having a heavy effect on their minds. The eerie portal, the heavy fog, and the complete absence of noise from beast that would normally be in the area made it an incredibly creepy place to try to relax in.
To get their minds off of things Joshua decided to ask Tank a couple of questions about what they could expect from a dungeon that was in spirit beast territory. Although the large turtle probably hadn't been to one himself considering the fact that most regular beast tended to stay away from areas that were filled with spirit beast, Tank probably had still heard about it to some degree after all of the years he spent exploring the world before getting trapped in the dungeon. Even a little information could go a long way to helping them for the upcoming situation.
"Tank do you have any idea what we might be up against once we go into this dungeon? You seemed to know a lot about these spirit beast after all." Joshua said getting everyone's attention as the giant turtle turned to look towards the group and stopped munching on his meal for a moment. Lilly had already fed all of her pets while they were setting up camp and she left some food out for both Tank and Cinder who were now on guard duty. After Tank finished munching on his food he decided to respond to Joshua's question.
"Although I haven't been inside one of these spirit beast dungeons myself I have heard several rumors about the places from other beast that I've met in my travels." Tank said as he seemed to be thinking back on the best way to explain what he knew. "They are very similar to normal dungeons, but the main difference is the eerie environment on the inside of the place that caters to the spirit beast and the fact that the bosses in such places become more threatening depending on the person that takes on the dungeon."
"That's probably right from what we know about the things so far." Henry said as he could understand what Tank was getting at. "If a group that's only faced and killed horned rabbits were to take on the dungeon then the spirit beast would be forced to take on the form of the rabbits to fight them do to their mimicry ability. However a group like ours that has faced several different types of beast in all of our travels could end up taking on several different types of creatures all with the special abilities of the spirit beast."
"That's one of the things that should concern all of you when you go into the dungeon, but the other is the fact that there are different levels of spirit beast that you could all end up facing." Tank said getting confused looks from most of the group. "The ones you've been fighting in the forest up to this point are all lower versions of the creatures you will probably face in the dungeon. Just like with just about any other territory you've come across in the past. Low level spirit beast can only take the form of low strength creatures on their own or slightly higher strength creatures if they mass together. Stronger spirit beast will be able to form much stronger beast such as the scorpion sub-boss you've faced in the past or the two large lizards from the marsh dungeon. Then you have the boss level spirit beast which will be able to take on the form of other bosses. So you've got a lot to look out for in this upcoming dungeon exploration."
Once Tank had finished his explanation his eyes closed as the area went silent with everyone thinking over things. It was getting late, but no one seemed to want to go to sleep just yet as they all set around the campfire just watching the flames burn. It was when this quiet seemed to settle deep into place that an unlikely person decided to speak up and grab everyone's attention.
"You know these creatures remind me of a story I was told a while back during my time in the army. During training we had to spend quite a few days out in camp like environments to see how we'd handle being on duty in harsh circumstances." Aito said getting everyone's attention. "During such occasions a lot of people would try to scare each other with ghost stories to put them even more on edge and scare the crap out of the newcomers."
"I'm not sure now is the time for a ghost story." Amy said while uneasily looking around the surroundings."
"What? You scared?" Joshua said with a teasing smirk getting a glare in return from his younger sister.
"Well this is a short story so it won't be too bad, but the situation just reminded me so much of it." Aito said getting nods to continue from everyone around besides Amy. "It was a story of a ghost that haunted a hotel back in some small town near where the guy that told us about it lived. Usually when you hear stories about ghost you always hear about either one ghost that haunts a specific spot and all of that nonsense or a bunch of ghost that haunt an area like a graveyard or something. This ghost was different though." Aito paused for what seemed like dramatic effect until he felt it was the right time to continue.
"No this ghost was only a single ghost, but it didn't take the form of an entity that had died in the hotel, or some weird creature to make a ruckus. No this ghost would take the form of any loved one you had that died in the past." This caused the other to look a bit surprised and realize the slight similarity between the creatures to a certain extent. "It would take the form of a parent that had long since passed on, or a wife that died not too long ago. Maybe you had a child that died young and it would take said form wondering the halls of the hotel at night. You'd hear their voice while only being able to see them at the edge of your vision on occasion. All in all it was a creepy idea for a ghost story, but what was frightening about it in the end was the fact that people would go visit this hotel in the hopes of seeing their loved ones once again. Imagining pining for someone lost so much to go chasing after ghost is what terrified me most about the story in the end. That's something I can actually see happening."
"It is a horrifying thought." Joshua said as he tried to think if he'd do something similar if he was put into that type of situation. "But why'd you bring the story up in the first place.
"Well so far all of the spirit beast we've come across have been easy to handle, but I've got a feeling while going through the dungeon we might come across spirit beast that can take the forms of either people we cared about that have died in the past or people we've felt responsible for letting die. It could be something that might not matter when it comes to this place, but I just wanted you all to have that idea at the back of your heads in case it came true in the end." Aito said getting tense nods from everyone. It wasn't something they had thought about even after being surrounded by ghost like beings for most of the day, but now that the idea had been placed in their heads they'd have to keep it in mind.