After the slaughter of the centipedes the fighting didn't stop as more spirit beast kept on coming wave after wave to try to take down Joshua's group. They took on the form of all sorts of animals from lizards, to frogs, to giant beetles, ants, and several creatures that Joshua hadn't seen before and were most likely enemies that Adrian's group or Amy had fought in the past. The one thing that was similar about all of these creatures was the fact that they were on the weaker side and used quantity over quality as a tactic of approach. It didn't seem to surprising considering there were so many of them still surrounding the platform even now. If the dungeon turned out to be about killing off all of the spirit beast that surrounded the platform without any breaks involved then they were definitely not going to be able to finish it.
At this point it had been several hours since they started the dungeon and they had yet to so much as even put a dent in the collection of spirit beast that were swarming around the area, Luckily the group knew that this wouldn't be the point of the dungeon since it was an impossible task in the first place and the dungeon wanted to be challenging instead of being a straight up death trap. Through three hours of struggle both Lilly and Joshua were able to gain a level while the rest of the group was getting a fairly decent amount of experience considering they hadn't come across a boss or even a sub-boss level opponent yet.
It was when Joshua pulled his aura covered scale blade out of the dying spirit beast that had decided to take the form of some sort of overgrown rat that the waves of constant spirit beast swarming the platform had finally come to a stop and they were all able to catch their breath. The fog on the platform lessened a bit and a message prompt appeared in front of everyone so that they could all read it at the same time.
[Congratulations on getting past the first phase of this dungeon. The second Phase will start in thirty minute so be prepared. The creatures that you shall face will become more challenging. Upon completion of the second phase you will have one more break before taking on the boss monster of this dungeons. If you wish to leave the dungeon now then take the portal behind you. Doing so will forfeit any rewards from this dungeon, but if you have already started to reach your limit at this point then it is advised that you leave for things shall only get more difficult. The portal shall close a minute before the second phase begins. Good Luck!]
After reading the message everyone let down their guard a bit and started munching away at some food that Aito had made for them before they came into the dungeon. It had given them a boost at the start of the dungeon that had increased all of their stats by five percent, but it had worn off about twenty minutes ago and this was the best time to get it back for the upcoming fights.
"Well at least we know how the rest of this dungeon challenge will go now." Adrian said before taking a large bite of his sandwich.
"Yep, the dungeon even gives you a chance to give up if you don't think your party can make it through to the end." Amy said with a big grin. Even with all of the fighting they had been doing up to this point the girl was still as energetic as ever.
"I get the feeling that escape points will become a common thing in dungeons from this point on." Aito said as he looked towards the green portal that had once again appeared at the center of the platform. It was the same as the one that had brought them there, so they were sure it probably lead to the spirit forest that they had entered the place from.
"Yeah that seems like a good call considering the difficulty spikes in dungeons that we've been coming across. The last dungeon went from a complicated puzzle to trying to fight an enemy that was unnecessarily fast while being invulnerable and having the strength to crush our heads like grapes. I think escape points are going to be a necessity." Henry said after he had finished his meal off.
"Well I highly doubt that going forward we will be met with the exact same thing as before. A whole new phase probably means a stronger challenge." Joshua said while looking towards all of the spirit beast swarming around in the distance. "I still haven't seen any drastic change from the swarm so I wonder how the dungeon will shift things."
"If I were you guys I'd expect sub-boss level opponents from this point forward along with some subordinates." Tank said as he finished off the lizard that Lilly had given him. Cinder also nodded her head as she finished off her meal.
"Most likely, it'll be another challenge, but the tougher the opponents the more experience we should get out of the fighting in the end." Joshua said as he stretched his body. The time limit was coming to an end as he watched the portal that lead them out of the dungeon disappear. The entire group was back in top condition with the rest and the fog on the platform was coming back in full strength. "Alright everybody be prepared for the next wave of attacks. From this point on I'm probably going to be more focused on tanking considering the enemies will be more powerful so go for any opening I create for you."
A few moments after the portal had disappeared the swarm of spirit beast surrounding the area seemed to get agitated once again, but this time instead of swarming over and forming creatures right away the spirit beast seemed to move aside as a much larger spirit beast came out of the swarm. The energy it was giving off was much more powerful as it made its way towards the platform so Joshua decided to observe it to see if he could find any new information for the creature. It had four stars by its name and was level sixty-four so Joshua knew that it was the sub-boss class beast of the dungeon, but when he saw a few more of the things starting to appear around the swarm he knew that they'd have to fight at least one of the creatures with every wave of enemies that came their way.
Knowing things were about to get more serious Joshua flared his aura shroud out and prepared to fight one of the creatures as it floated down in front of the group and started to morph its body to take the shape of an enemy. Before it even finished morphing Joshua had a pretty good idea what form it was planning to take on based off of the fact that the fog on the platform seemed to disappear and the place was instead covered in shadows. If his guess was right then they were about to face an annoying creature that honestly would be a bit difficult to deal with in the past, but now they had a trump card.
The boss finally finished taking shape and took on the form of the shadow fiend creature they had faced when taking on the dungeon inside of James Town. It had its large powerful clawed hand along with the ability to go in and out of shadows. Having that to go along with the spirit beast ability to phase through normal physical attacks would be hard to deal with along with the fact that it was now a level sixty-four creature that could easily tear into Tank if given the chance with that powerfully clawed hand.
That wasn't the end of things though as several smaller groups of spirit beast made their way over and formed smaller shadow fiends that would be annoying and cause problems by helping the boss out. The fact that the entire platform was now one big shadow for them to dive into and move around in was an issue in itself. As long as they remained in the shadows there was no way for the group to attack them and they'd be put on the defensive the entire fight given the circumstances.
At first that seemed to be exactly how things were going to go. The large shadow fiend dived into the shadow with its subordinates following close behind. Lilly had Tank create several floating bubbles all around the platform to work as mines to make it more difficult for the shadow fiends to just jump out at any location while Cinder set up some flame pyre traps as well. Then she dismissed Tank since he was a big target, that wouldn't be able to react in time against these types of creatures. She then brought out Jade to go into Amy's shadow so that she could do more damage to the creatures while Light was already in Joshua's aura.
The sub-boss level shadow fiend was the first one to attack as it came flying out of the ground beneath where Joshua once stood. Its large hands tried to enclose around him, but he leaped out of the way. These spirit beast seemed to be on the smarter side though as several of the smaller fiends came shooting towards the midair Joshua trying to take him out while he was in a bad position. Joshua then blinked out of the way and landed back near where the large fiend was trying to dive back into the shadows, but Joshua wasn't having that.
If he let the creatures face them like this then the fight could be dragged on for a long time. So instead he had Light do his job and pour energy into Joshua's aura magnifying it and clearing out all of the large shadows in the vicinity. The only shadows able to survive under such circumstances were the ones directly behind obstacles or people and since there weren't really any obstacles on the platform the shadow fiends were all forced out while Jade was just fine inside Amy's shadow. "Take them down now while we've got the chance!" Joshua shouted as he charged the large shadow fiend.
The rest of the group got to work as well. Cinder had burnt down several of the smaller shadow fiends while Lilly helped her out. Aito started firing explosive rounds and even tossed a few flash grenades which seemed to damage the creatures even more. Since they knew how to handle these type of creatures and Light was able to change the environmental advantage that the beast had, they were able to easily tear them apart. Joshua had already cut off the large shadow fiend's clawed hand before it could even put up much of a fight due to its surprise. Amy and Adrian both dived in and got to work on tearing the beast apart as it was getting harder and harder for the more powerful spirit beast to hold its form under the barrage of attacks.
The creature let out an angered scream as it couldn't fight back since every time it was preparing to strike out with any form of attack Joshua would just have Light brightened the area through his aura and cause even more pain to the spirit beast. By the time Lilly, Cinder, and Aito had cleared out all of the other spirit beast that had joined the fight Joshua had blinked over head of the dying spirit beast and put it out of its misery by jamming an aura filled scale blade through its skull and slashing all the way down to the ground splitting the creature in two.
When the group looked at all of the spirit beast swarming around the platform they could see that the creatures seemed shocked by how easily they had taken care of the last fight. The other large spirit beast that had joined the swarmed seemed to be debating something as they looked towards one another, but nothing seemed to be approaching for the moment. Joshua could understand why. The last fight was as if the group had figured out a way to completely cheat the situation and it was all thanks to the little puppy that was the natural enemy to shadow creatures. Light wouldn't be able to do so well in an environment completely covered in shadows or against a creature that could generate shadows on its own, but clearing out a simple platform was easy work and occasionally shining brightly whenever the creatures were planning to attack was also fairly simple.
The trick definitely made the last fight easier and it was a trick that Joshua had been thinking of using ever since he had gone through the dungeon back in James Town. He doubted they'd luck out in the coming fights, but he was prepared for anything.