It took a while for the group to be able to get any sleep that night as they thought of the challenges they'd have to face coming up. Of course after getting used to the explorer way of life they were able to force themselves to get some sleep with a little bit of work, but even so it was harder to do than usual. They weren't certain how powerful the creatures on the inside of the dungeon were going to be or what types of challenges the dungeon would put them through, but they knew that this dungeon was of a higher level than the last one they took on. From that alone they could probably guess the boss creature they'd face at the end would put up more of a challenge overall than even the Scorpion Prince, especially with these weird abilities that the spirit beast possessed.
When morning came everyone was rested enough to where they could go days of exploring without another large break if they had to just in case the dungeon had challenges that would make that necessary. They made sure they had more than enough supplies to last them a while and everyone gathered all their stuff and put it away into their inventory before heading over to the ghostly portal. The green portal was just as eerie in the morning as it had been the previous night even with the small amount of light that made it through the foggy environment.
The portal was large enough that even Tank would be able to pass through when he was at his full size which made it tower over the group. The only creature Joshua had seen so far that probably would have trouble fitting through the portal was the Ant Queen while the sub-boss scorpion from the last dungeon could probably barely squeeze through. As they approached the portal Joshua noticed that it was impossible to see what was on the other side and it looked as if they were looking through a blurred lens the closer they got. "Well is everyone ready to go through and see what this dungeon is all about?" Joshua asked as he turned to look at the rest of the group.
"Might as well. There's not really anything else we can do to prepare ourselves at this point." Adrian said as he cracked his neck while gripping the handle of one of his swords with his other hand in anticipation.
"Do you think you'll end up leaving another warning at the entrance to the dungeon this time Joshua?" Lilly asked as she looked around the area one last time. "Though I'm not sure if many people are going to want to come to a dungeon like this."
"If it's challenging enough or different enough from regular dungeons then I'll probably leave a message for anyone that decides to come to this dungeon in the future. Especially for members of our guild and other members of the alliance." Joshua said getting nods from everyone. "Well I'll take the lead, but be ready for anything since we have no idea what this dungeon will be like." Joshua said before entering the portal with the rest of his party following quickly behind.
Going through the portal gave him the same strange feeling he gained whenever he walked through the portals in the hub city. It felt as if his body was being slightly stretched for a moment before once again going back to normal as he exited the portal. It was a feeling that Joshua wasn't sure if he'd ever be able to actually get used to, but he knew that he'd just have to deal with it. The rest of his group soon appeared behind him after they stepped out of the portal in quick fashion. Some stumbled a bit as they exited, but other than that nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
The place they found themselves in was nothing like any dungeon they had been to before. It felt as if they were no longer on earth and were instead in some weird type of dimension. A dimension that seemed to be fueled by millions of spirit beast that roamed around the dark space from a distance. They all stood on a large platform that looked somewhat like an arena with nothing else around to see outside of the swarms of spirit beast that were constantly moving around the area and watching them with all sorts of different emotions. From Joshua's aura sense he could feel some of those emotions bleed out into the surroundings.
They were feelings that varied from excitement to fear, but the most prevalent feeling that was coming through was rage. It was as if all of the spirits could feel that Joshua's group didn't belong in the place. That encouraged them to be angered by their presence and that anger and rage was fueling a powerful killing intent that was suppressing Joshua's group to a certain extent. It was fairly strong since it was constantly being aimed at them the entire time, but it wasn't on the level of a boss creature so they could hold their own more than well enough. Lilly even had Light come out and jump into Joshua's aura so that Light's ability to protect against the pressure of other creatures made things even easier for the entire group.
For a few minutes the group looked around the area and they couldn't find anything else around besides the enormous platform that they all stood on and the oceans worth of spirit beast that were floating around them like a giant whirlpool with no means of escape. Even the portal that they stepped through started to fade away showing that the only way for them to proceed forward would be to go through the task the dungeon would set for them. There was no turning back at this point and it seemed like things would get started soon as a pedestal started to rise from the center of the arena.
Joshua's group walked over to the pedestal so they could read it and figure out what they'd have to do to complete this dungeon. It was the only thing around that showed any sign of changing so they knew that it was probably the way to go. They also weren't willing to do something stupid like attack the large swarm of spirit beast without knowing what was going on. The spirit beast might not be all that powerful on their own, but in the number that were currently surrounding them there was no way that they would be able to take them all on without some sort of rules in play. When they got up to the pedestal they were clearly able to read what the thing said.
[Congratulations on entering this Spirit Dungeon. Spirit Dungeons are different than normal dungeons in a couple of ways. It isn't a place where you can just go exploring around any corner you find and hope to find something interesting along the way. It is not an exploration like most dungeons, but instead is more of a set of challenges. The way the challenges are handled can be different depending on which Spirit Dungeon you have entered.]
At this point the entire group seemed a bit surprised by the change in style of dungeon. So far they had only come across two different types of dungeons where there were drastic differences between the two. Now a whole new type of dungeon was being introduced to them and they knew that it would probably become a common thing going forward based off of the message that they were still reading.
[Spirit Dungeons can come in a wide variety, but the difficulty always changes depending on who is trying to clear the dungeon in the end. That is because of a combination of the traits of the spirit beast ad the challenges given by the particular dungeon.]
That was when the message started to explain the traits of spirit beast which Tank had already explained to the entire group so that they'd have a good idea of what they'd be up against. The one difference that the message explained that Tank wasn't able to was the fact that spirit beast inside the dungeon would come in at different levels as the dungeon grew harder to handle. They assumed that would most likely be the case since it was similar when it came to just about every other dungeon they had come across up to this point. The rest of the message explained something new.
[The challenge for this spirit dungeon is an arena style combat event. Explorers that enter this dungeon will be forced to take on different levels of arena combat with the spirit beast in this void until you have proven yourself strong enough to take on the boss of this dungeon. Be wary of these enemies since the boss can take on powerful forms of creatures you have faced in the past and it shall not fight alone. Upon completion of this dungeon every member of your party will be awarded with a specific skill from this dungeon. Good luck with your challenge of this dungeon explorers and be prepared. The moment you push this pedestal back down into the arena will be the trigger for the dungeon challenge to begin.]
"Well at least we know how this will work now." Henry said after he finished thinking over everything the message explained.
"It seems like this dungeon will be all about fighting this time around without any weird puzzles to figure out." Joshua said as he turned to look at the rest of the group. "Well are you all ready to give it a try? Once we start we won't be able to stop."
"Yeah I'm ready to give these ghost hell!" Amy said with excitement as she started stretching and bouncing in place.
"All my pets are ready and I have Flutter ready to boost us all when the fighting starts." Lilly said. She had Tank and Cinder ready to help with combat while Light had jumped into Joshua's aura to help strengthen him since he'd be the primary tank for the upcoming fights with Tank only there to help out against massive creatures if he had to. She'd switch between using Tank and other pets depending on the situation.
"Might as well get started. We've all been well rested for this fight anyways." Aito said being the last one to respond. Joshua nodded before stepping up to the platform and pushing it down into the ground. When he had finished pushing the entire thing down the arena floor started to light up with an eerie green color like the portal had been while fog started to appear from the cracks in the platform all around them. It was clear the arena was setting itself up for a specific atmosphere for the fights to come.
Once the fog had settled a small amount of spirit beast had broken off from the swarm of spirit beast that surrounded the arena and they all floated down towards them in a very silent fashion that made them seem even more unnerving than if they had been screeching or whaling at them like most beast did. The number that stood in front of them was far more than the gatherings they had come across in the forest up to this point and this was only the first group of spirit beast that would come down to challenge them in any way or form. The group started to split off into three packs that all merged into their own individual figures and Joshua was soon able to make out what they were soon forming into.
The spirit beast each formed one of the deranged wild dog creatures that Joshua had seen in the dungeon that Jayce's group had completed before. The dogs weren't the regular version though, but were instead the sub-boss from the dungeon that was larger and more powerful than the regular deranged dogs. Joshua knew that it would be a tough opponent with its high strength and tough hide that allowed it to tank several of Jayce's group's most powerful attacks, but now it would be even more difficult. They wouldn't be able to harm it with physical attacks on their own which would make it more difficult and there were three of them instead of one. To go along with that was the fact that these creatures weren't level forty-five, but were instead level sixty-three.
'Well at least they don't have rocks to jump around on like the last time we saw them.' Amy said through the party chat so that she wouldn't draw the attention of the creatures. Of course the moment she said that the platform around them changed as the fog seemed to condense into ethereal rocks that made the terrain more problematic for them and far more in tuned to what the creatures would like in their current form. Everyone in the group turned to glare at Amy. 'Oops.'