As promised, Luda disables a number of traps and Bastian slays a number of goblins and rodents of unusual size as we progress into the dungeon.
Goblins, by the way, are baby shit green, covered in boils, and have breath that smells like fish boiled in garlic paste.
Come to think of it, these dungeons have had a lot of fish racks and ropes of garlic hanging around, maybe their breath smells like that because it’s the main staple of their diet?
“The goblins in this area are fishermen, they eat a lot of fish and garlic, that’s why this place smells so terrible,” Bastian expounds as if I hadn’t just explained that to you.
“You don’t say,” I mutter.
“He did say,” Luda says. “He just said it, about a second before you said that.”
I stare at Luda who, in tuns, stares at me. He shifts his expression from confused to more confused as I stare at him before he tilts his head in Bastian’s general direction and speaks from the corner of his mouth without taking his eyes off of me.
“Did I say something wrong?” Luda asks.
“No, little Luda,” Bastian says. “I believe our friend was deploying sarcasm, passively informing me that the information I was relaying was easily grasps by observing our surroundings.”
“Oh,” Luda says. He blinks and turns away from to observe his surroundings. “Well, I didn’t notice.” He says with a degree of pride, as though he were happy to give Bastian the satisfaction of being right. “Should we collect some of the fish for rations?”
Bastian chuckles and shakes his head.
“There is no need.” Bastian says. “This dungeon is ranked a D in the guild’s books. It is a two level beginners dungeon. This should only take a few hours, no need for rations.”
“So,” I say as something crosses my mind. “You’re a very successful adventurer, aren’t you?”
“My portrait hangs over the hearth of the Guild, yes.” Bastian says with a nod of his head.
“So-” I continue, “why is one of the most successful and well known adventurers exploring an Academy training dungeon?”
“Well, you see,” Bastian stops walking so he can turn and give me his full attention. “The nearby town of Namelater was set upon by goblins who stole the Mayor’s Macguffin before returning to this dungeon. I have been hired to retrieve it.”
Silence follows Bastian’s explanation as I stare, slack jawed, and try to process.
“The town of… Name later?” I ask.
“They stole a… a… Macguffin?”
“Yes, the mayors Macguffin. It is very important to him.”
Another few seconds pass in silence as I stare at him, dumbfounded. Why would Bastian know the term macguffin? No character should ever know that term, it’s much too meta.
Of course! Of course he’s seeking a macguffin; the author half-assed another WIP, starting a new story without filling in any real details. He wanted Bastian in a dungeon and so Bastian is in a dungeon; the ‘why’ is irrelevant. So now, Bastian, Luda, and I are delving into what is more than likely an incomplete dungeon.
Maybe it’s not as incomplete as I think it is?
Maybe the author actually has a plot revolving around luring readers into a false sense of security knowing that the hero is much too overqualified to be too at any risk, only to reveal some big unexpected evil at the end luring him into a trap.
Then again, this is still the first chapter of the story, this could simply be the establishing ‘Ordinary World’ stage of the Hero’s Journey. To Bastian, a professional dungeon crawler, a simple dungeon like this would be ordinary, I suppose.
Perhaps… I am overthinking? The author started this and abandoned it with no thought; I am sure of that.
I… am sure of that?
“I am sure of that!” I say out loud.
“Of what?” Bastian asks.
“Of… our… survival?”
“Did you question our survival? Luda asks.
“Never!” I exclaim. “I am sure of it!”
Luda shakes his head and turns to inspect the next door leading into the sixth chamber. Bastian smiles, either amused or excited by my certainty, and he steps forward, holding the blade of a short sword and offering me the hilt.
“A goblin long sword,” he says. I wrap my fingers around the leather hilt and take it from him, holding it before my face.
“Wow,” I smile, but quickly realize something isn’t right with the sword. “Wait- long-sword? This is only a foot and a half long!”
“Goblins are only three feet tall,” Bastian says. “Their idea of long is a bit different than those of a taller stature.”
“Huh,” I mutter. “Fair enough.” I step to the side, away from Bastian and begin to swing the ‘sword’ around, testing the wait. I can feel Bastian’s aura of disappointment n my technique, but he says nothing.