The room he stared at, on the other side of the doorway, was massive. Easily over a few hundred feet across and another sixty or seventy feet wide. Lighting within the room was darker than the corridor too, forcing Arthur to squint as he tried to assess the monsters within. Most of all though, what attracted Arthur’s attention was the singular hill, formed in a series of staggered slopes that reached a tapered point at the end where a glowing door stood, hanging in mid-air. The entire thing reminded Arthur of a coiled rope, or a snake. Or a turd. Mostly the turd.
“Well, objective seems easy enough. Now, what’s the fluff?” Arthur muttered to himself.
His gaze flicked over the surroundings, searching for movement. After a moment, he spotted it. Small, rodent like creatures at the bottom near him. Numerous, with gleaming little fangs that probably were painful to get bitten by. Easy enough to counter, though he’d probably want to move fast in case they swarmed.
Then, nearer the base were the babi ngepit. Arthur a few moments of watching, he could pick out at least two sounders moving along the bottom base. Near constant circling.
After that… nothing. That was worrying. Squint as he might, between the occasional brush and lower lighting, Arthur could not spot the monster waiting for him there. Probably an ambush predator then.
Monkeys on the next level, high enough to throw their offensive – in both senses of the word – armament as he climbed up. Definitely worth heading upwards at speed then, rather than going slow and getting pelted.
Next up, nothing. The angle was getting tighter, making it harder for him to spot what was waiting on the next level. He assumed it was another ambush predator – or something smaller. Not great, but he could deal with it.
Then, after that, nothing again. Though… looking up, he spotted a flock of birds. Hopefully they weren’t coming down at the same time. If they were, it would be incredibly difficult to fight his way upwards, between dive bombing birds and flung feces.
Either way, speed would make sense.
“Going to have a need for speed…”
Right at the top though, that was the biggest concern. A jenglot. And this fellow was the size of the Alpha he had fought before. Arms nearly five feet long themselves, hunched over on the second last level. It stared balefully at Arthur as he was silhouetted in the corridor light, as though challenging him to take a run for it.
And run he would have. That was quite clear. This was not something he could play out slowly, moving forwards and taking out each level. Too many monsters for him to play that game, and no guarantee they wouldn’t even try to swarm him if he tried that.
Rush upwards, fighting and killing each monster as he ascended. There were, now that he was staring, small slopes interspersed between each rising level, such that he could either try climbing the steep nearly twenty foot levels or take a slope.
He assumed the second was better, especially since he did not have any techniques to pull himself upwards. If he had, climbing up those walls would have been perfect. Again, he had to curse not taking more time to practice parkour or other qinggong methods. With his increased strength, he should theoretically even be ascend the twenty feet now.
But right now was not the time to try something new. Stay with the tried and true.
Only in movies did you manage to make things work out the first time.
On that cheery though, Arthur made himself draw a deep breath. He cycle breathed for a few moments, trying to saturate his body with as much oxygen as possible, even as he bounced a little on his feet. Moments later, resolving himself fully, he tightened the straps on his backpack and dashed forwards.
Left foot, right foot. Left foot, push off to jump over that forest rat.
He felt the body crunch under his feet, his body skidding a little as the creature ducked the other way from anticipated. He skidded a little and one of those rats chose to scramble up his leg, tiny claws piercing through his pants as it headed upwards.
Arthur had no time to worry about it though, instead scrambling forwards. He needed to keep moving, for as he feared, the entire horde of rats were coming for him now. Speed was going to be his only salvation. Ten, eight, four feet. He kept running, feeling the rat on the side of his leg having managed to make it to his waist. It then stopped, and clamped down on his stomach, eliciting a snarl.
He smacked the damn creature aside, feeling skin tear as sharpened fangs sunk into his flesh were ripped out. A notification from the Tower pressed onto his mind but he chose to ignore it, knowing that to allow it to distract him now would be a problem.
He could probably guess what it said. No damage reports, but poisoning? Or disease? That, the Tower would want to inform him of. A single instance should be a non-issue, his Advanced Healing Technique easily able to handle the matter.
If more of those monsters managed to injure him though…
Taking a more proactive approach, Arthur started swinging his spear. He used sweeping motions as he flipped, skipped and jumped forward. He swung his spear downwards, beating aside a pair of rats that had gathered before him. Another leap took him over the next horde, the creatures spinning about to chase. He did not slow down, spearing one rat through the face as it leapt at him and flicking it backwards as he swung his spear around, letting the corpse smash into the rushing horde behind.
Forwards, always moving forwards.
His ears throbbed with the high pitched chittering of the monsters chasing after him, angling towards him from all sides. Everywhere he looked, a moving carpet of creatures flowed after him, some scrambling up his legs, others biting at his feet the moment it could.
Another half-dozen steps and he threw himself forwards, falling upon the pile of squirming creatures and rolling. He felt furry bodies, all too slick and prickly, scratch across his shins, his face, his hands as he rolled, crushing rats. Then, he finished the roll and came up, shedding monsters that had been thrown off by the sudden movement and acquiring a couple more.
Including one clutching at his hair.
He grabbed at the rat, throwing it aside as it squirmed in his hand, tiny tail whipping at him. Then, another motion, to swing his spear at the monsters hanging onto him while he kept running. He hit himself in the leg as he did so, bruising himself but crushing a monster as he did so.
His breathing was fast, the pressure as additional notifications pressed upon him. He knew they had bitten him, felt his body slowing down, pain beginning to radiate from his body. The chittering and screeching grew as he kept running, leaping one last time. Over the carpet that threatened to drag him down.
Landing pass the boundary line of tiny monsters, a few monsters piled on him, the rest chasing after. But he could outpace them, he knew it.
Which only left the babi ngepit ahead.
And then the rest of the hill.