Arthur was still hiking through the dungeon floor when a sharp sense flashed through his head, causing a second-long headache. It felt like someone had just shocked him through the head.
'The battle above has grown intense.' He winced before the pain came down.
He wasn't sure how long he had been walking-but so far, he hadn't encountered any monster on the way. The entire thing felt too easy for an exam happening in a dungeon. The archmage had mentioned that this was meant to test if they were worthy of the academy. As an aspiring dark knight, Arthur needed to push himself to keep this new life. While efficiently using his mana, of course.
The dungeon's air turned cooler as if the room temperature was dropping to zero.
The magic in his uniform was the only thing keeping his body temperature natural—but as he had read, magic like this usually had a limit. A limit that he was sure he was going to hit sooner because the floor's temperature was now falling even faster. He needed to find or run away from the source of this coldness before he reached the limit.
He paced through the path, letting his instincts lead the way to at least any nearby students that could help. The midnight roses that lit up the entire place were dimming out in response to the coldness. The floor was getting darker as the light faded.
'This is bad. If this is what I think it is, then I need fire magic-very powerful fire magic!' He thought.
The walls behind were freezing on their own. And the ice was starting to catch up to him. He didn't want to find out what happens to him if it did—this was one of those situations where he just had to expect the worst to stay alive.
Arthur increased his speed but it looked like he was running in a never-ending tunnel. His weak human body wasn't going to keep up anymore with the running.
He stopped the pointless running and drew his magic sword without thinking. Immediately, a torrent of red flames erupted out of the mitheral blade. Arthur cried as he tried to avoid getting burned by the blazes shooting out of his sword. They melted the ice surrounding him by creating a wall of flames.
He didn't know he could perform such with the little mana. Somehow the sword had protected him against his own will. Weirdly, its blade was glowing, and it had developed arrays that weren't there when he acquired the sword from the shop.
Arthur was still wondering what was going on when he heard hissing echoing from where he had come from. His inhuman senses started screaming at him that danger was heading his way. And Arthur couldn't help but feel like this was too much for him—so much for luck.
"Why me? Why does it have to be this? Why not a slime or a goblin?" he mumbled nervously as the last midnight rose behind him finally went dark due to the returned coldness.
The entire floor had gone dark, leaving his sword as the only source of light because of the glowing arrays on its blade.
He then identified another source of light. They looked like two glowing orbs floating in the air, both beaming at him and getting wider the louder the hissing got.
His small heart hammered through his tiny chest while his breath quickened from the coldness, making it hard for him to breathe. 'What should I do? I don't want to die, not again—' he panicked.
He forced his legs to move, but they were already weak from the running he had just done, and he wasn't sure if he was capable of pulling off another fire spell like that without becoming immobile.
The hissing got louder and louder. Finally, the beast was close enough for him to feel its cold breath. He couldn't see it, but it hadn't reached close enough to fit into his field of vision.
He immediately reached for his trouser pocket and pulled out the midnight roses he had picked up earlier—he shoved them down his mouth and absorbed the magical energy, recovering all the mana he had just lost while using his sword.
Then, he charged into the darkness while pouring mana into his sword. Following what he had learned from Elizabeth, he converted all his strength to his arms and thrashed his sword through the air while using fire magic. The sword's tip then created flames strong enough to cut through the coldness and managed to hit the target—he could tell by the ear-piercing cry that followed his attack.
Not only that, the sword suddenly cast magical arrays that lit up the entire floor like lanterns—they were even brighter than the midnight roses.
'This isn't a normal sword.' He noticed seeing how it was voluntarily casting spells.
The light gave him a clear image of what he was going against. It was none other than an echidna, a magic beast resembling a beautiful pale-skinned woman from head to torso, her lower half resembling a giant snake. This one specifically had long black shiny hair that looked wet from where he was standing, while her blue cat-like eyes were glowing and gave off a hostile presence.
Arthur's fire attack had burned through her exposed chest, and her skin was still sizzling while it recovered.
Seeing it like this didn't boost his confidence-it only made him even more scared of what's come now that he had landed a dangerous attack like that. Also, he was already regretting the fact that he could now see.
"Why an echidna?! Why? I thought these things only attack those with powerful ma—" he paused, remembering the mark he had been given earlier. Could it be the reason why it was after him?
The monster shrieked, and claws jetted out of its finger. Its hair suspended itself in the air, and the beast launched at him with incredible speed.
Arthur didn't have a spell capable of protecting him without losing all his mana. And so, with a yelp, he jumped out of the way, and the creature crashed into the wall that was behind him. He used the opportunity to quickly make a run for it before the beast regains its balance—he was no match for a monster this agile.
'I can die here, not yet.' He thought, forgetting about the fatigue he was feeling.
The power swing had cracked his wrists, and his calf muscles felt like they were about to tear themselves apart—but he ran anyway.
Tears of joy started to pour down from his eyes when he saw his possible survival when suddenly, he bumped into a wall of thick ice that had appeared out of nowhere.
He stared at the ice wall with shock in his eyes. He hadn't sensed that attack! How?
He glanced over his shoulder, and the creature was gone along with its presence.
...how could something so big disappear instantly?
In that moment, Arthur felt like weak prey being hunted by a larger animal.
"What the hell is going—"
The ice in front of him exploded when the echidna burst out of the thick ice with both hands lunging for him. The best grabbed his entire face and slammed him into the ground with brutal force—creating a crater by using his body. The dungeon quaked as Arthur felt his bones shatter from his collision with the earth.
"SCRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIII" it screamed even louder after slamming him into the ground like it was celebrating its superiority.
Arthur coughed blood after that powerful attack. The collision had affected most of his back, and the shock wave had caused damage to his ribs—it was a surprise that he was still alive after that. One more of those, and he will be dead instantly.
'Am I really going to die now?' he stared at the beast, now ready to strike him with its claws. It raised its arm but stopped after sensing another presence on the floor.
"Whoever thought that you would last this long in a battle against an ice serpent. You're an interesting individual," Bairon's calm voice echoed throughout the entire floor, along with his rhythmic footsteps. His body was cackling with electricity after running down from the upper floor using his enhanced speed.
Arthur was relieved to see another human. "About time," he grunted, still pinned to the ground by the echidna that now looked terrified by Bairon's presence.
"You're a pain to locate since you produce little magical energy, but the sudden burst of magical energy from this beast— I am surprised it's an echidna."
The echidna then turned its attention to Bairon and let go of Arthur—he was obviously the bigger threat to it than him.
He summoned a wand in his left hand, giving him access to his second attribute as a dual magic user.
"Leave this monster to me," he said confidently with a smirk on his face.