The next morning after a long rest the group was up eating breakfast and discussing which path they should take next. There were arguments for both sides since the two creatures each had their own weaknesses that the group was hoping to exploit, but eventually the discussion stalled out since the decision seemed to be split. The mages wanted to take on the snake since it was hard to miss their attacks and they figured they could wear it down easily over time while on the other hand the close range fighters tended to want to take on the spider since they knew they could actually do some damage to the creature without having scales get in the way. Both the healers and Tanks didn't seem to care either way.
This in the end lead to the whole group turning towards Joshua for a decision. He had been thinking about which one to choose to take on next since last night and he had finally came to a decision. "Well then which path do you think we should take on next Joshua?" Henry asked since he figured Joshua would have some better insight which creature was more dangerous since he had an easier time of sensing the strength of the creatures whenever the group ended up taking on any of them.
"If I had to say which creature I thought was stronger based off the fight in the canyon then I'd lean more towards the snake. The only reason we had an easier time handling the one in the canyon was because it was focused on Tank for most of the fight and I highly doubt that would be the case in a boss level fight. The snake would just end up being too powerful for Tank to handle at his current level." Joshua explained getting a nod of agreement from Lilly. "On the other hand I think I can tank the spider for a time while the rest of you do some damage. We need as much strength as possible before taking on the snake and the final boss of this dungeon in my opinion. Several of us are close to leveling up at this point and one level could easily be the difference between being able to cut through the snake's scales after two swings or three."
"I agree. The spider is hard, but it's a bit of a glass canon if it's similar to the one in the canyon. The only issue is that we have to go into the fight believing that there will be some sort of trick to it like with the last two. I'm not sure how it will relate to the spider, but we have to be ready regardless." Henry said getting nods from everyone. After they had agreed on which path they were going to take on next the group started to put up all of their equipment and prepared for a new day of exploration. Joshua was the first one at the door as he looked over the image of the spider and noticed that it was a rather long legged spider similar to the ones in the canyon, but looked a little bulkier.
Joshua waited a bit for everyone to gather up behind him before he prepared to push open the door. Just like with all of the other paths they had gone down at this point there was a message that popped up the moment Joshua prepared to open the door.
[Eight legged wonders of nature hide throughout these halls. Stalkers of the night who feast upon their enemies and kill them in a flash. Be wary of the doors you cannot see for they shall be your downfall. Good luck!]
After reading the message Joshua already had a fairly good idea of what they would have to deal with the moment they started going down this path. He remembered the first night where he had witnessed one of the spiders hiding behind a trap door and it still sent chills down his spine. These enormous spiders were already frightening enough to deal with when they were out in the open in a fair fight, but if he had to worry about one of his members being dragged away into a trapdoor at any moment then things could get dangerous rather quickly. From what he could remember it was pretty hard for him to sense the spiders behind their trapdoors without concentrating so they would have to move through this path rather slowly.
Joshua also realized he couldn't allow Becca or Marcus to scout ahead because they would be in a lot of danger. They could fight decently, but under a surprise attack that dragged them away from the rest of the group they'd end up being nothing more than food for these enormous spiders and he didn't plan on loosing anyone going through this dungeon. This meant that Joshua would have to be out front as a sort of bait for the spiders to go after. If it were Tank or Cinder the spiders would most likely ignore them and go for the rest of the group after they had passed by the area. So instead Joshua decided to have Cinder in front of the rest of the group since she'd have an easier time sensing danger for them while Tank would bring up the rear. They'd be moving through the area slowly anyways so having Tank out wouldn't slow them down.
"So I'm guessing you get the meaning behind the warning then?" Isabella asked. Joshua nodded before explain to the group his plan going forward.
"We're going to have to go through this path slowly to avoid anyone getting separated from the group. Stay close to each other and prepare to kill anything that jumps out at me when we're moving forward. This is a situation where my lower level is actually an advantage for us." Joshua explained.
"That's true." Henry said with a smirk. "These type of beast tend to try to take out the weakest from the pack so if they see you separated from the rest of the group then they'll definitely go after you first as long you don't show off your aura."
"Well it seems like a plan, but make sure your careful Josh. Don't want to have to pry open one of those trapdoors to save your ass." Adrian said with a smile. Joshua just nodded back before pushing open the two sides of the giant door. It was heavy like always, but Joshua was glad to see there was actually some light on the other side of the door this time around. It wasn't going to be like the bat path leaving them blind and walking around like idiots. The path was darker than the ram path though since the long hall was only dimly lit with glowing glyphs.
With sight not being a concern Joshua tried to look around to see what other types of issues they might have trying to go down this path and it didn't take long for him to see a glaring problem. The stone surface of the ceiling, floor, and walls in the large hallway were all unnaturally smooth. This right away sent warning bells into Joshua's mind since he remembered the first time he had seen one of the spider traps he was able to tell it apart from the rest of the wall of the canyon because of the slightly smooth surface. It wasn't a huge difference, but it was just different enough that Joshua could tell something was wrong in the area. Now that advantage had been taken away and Joshua would have to rely completely on his aura sense to find where the spiders were at all times.
With a sigh he stepped into the room and looked around a bit to see if there was anything else he should be on edge about. Luckily nothing else came to mind so he decided to put his aura sense into full gear. Joshua wasn't the only one sensing ahead of the entrance to see if there was any immediate traps in front of them. Becca was able to scout a bit ahead with her echolocation, but the unusually smooth surfaces would make it harder for her to tell where the spiders would be. Tank on the other hand had just as good a chance of spotting out the spiders as Joshua sense his aura sensing abilities were on par if not better than Joshua's. The both of them would be key to spotting any danger ahead of time so that Joshua could act as a bait and approach the danger on his own.
After clearing the first area and having everyone come into the room so that the doors behind them could close they all realized they were now forced to go down this path no matter what. It didn't matter if they wanted to turn back now at this point. They were going to have to make their way through this path and Joshua knew that it wouldn't be easy. The moment the doors closed behind them it was like the room dimmed even more with the bright light source from the central area being taken away. Joshua could still see fine, but it felt like the shadows in the corners of the hall were playing tricks on his eyes. It was clear that the area was perfect for sneak attacks.
"Seems like the perfect place for Jade to do her work." Lilly said with a smile as she summoned her cat like familiar from her soul realm. Jade glanced around the surroundings for a moment before running over to Joshua and jumping into Joshua's shadow. That was soon followed up by Light being summoned and him jumping into Joshua's aura as well. For Jade it was easy for her to hide her presence from any enemies that tried to sense her out, so Joshua didn't have to worry about any of the spiders avoiding him because they could sense Jade's presence. Light on the other hand Joshua had to make sure to suppress his own aura so that the spiders wouldn't be able to tell something was up.
The power of the two familiars boosting Joshua made it easy for him to react and fend off a spider or two until the rest of the group could help out. Now the only issue was trying to make sure the spiders went after him initially instead of the rest of the group. So Joshua took a decent lead ahead of the rest of the party. He was still staying within sight of them, but he was far enough away to make it seem as though he was open for an attack. Even though he walked rather casually he had Light ready to put up a shield to protect himself at any moment. He couldn't just be walking down the hall with a giant scale blade in his hands after all if he wanted to act as bait.
When Joshua first started going down the hall the very first thing he did was focus on his aura sense. He didn't use his aura pulse since he knew that would immediately let such highly sensitive creatures realize that he was searching for them. His aura sense on the other hand wasn't as heavy handed and was hard to notice as long as Joshua didn't spend too much time observing one target. Tank was also an expert at doing just that since he had been doing it far longer than Joshua. As Joshua spread out his aura sense while slowly moving down the large hall he realized there actually weren't any normal traps in the area. The group had been going down the hall for ten minutes and there wasn't a single small trap around. No poison darts, no arrows from the walls, no pitfalls, not a single trap that they had seen previously was in the hall.
This at least meant that the spiders were probably the only major threat going down the path, but at the same time it also meant the spiders could appear from anywhere. Joshua didn't know if that was a good thing since paranoia could easily settle in on the group if they had to constantly be on edge the entire time. It was when this thought came to Joshua's mind that he finally noticed something a bit further down the hall with his aura sense. Joshua could feel a small amount of killing intent leaking out from up ahead and he knew things were about to get started.