Dungeon by Josephine Mundorf

A breeze runs through Chen’s black hair as he walks down the worn, dirt path running through the trees. Chen’s left hand rests on the hilt of the old sword his father gifted him before leaving the house. The weight of the pack his mother gave him the night before rests on his back. His journey to the capital city will take him but a few days by foot. The path takes him through the forest he was in now, which was known for it’s highly dangerous dungeon that has taken many adventurers of all skill.

There’s the sound of a whining horse that gets louder as Chen turns around the corner. On the ground is a fallen horse, behind it a small cart turned on its side. What he assumed used to be its contents laid spread out on the ground.

Chen carefully walked forward as he called out, “Is anyone there?”

When there was no reply but the horse’s whining Chen walked forward and unhooked the horse from the cart. He surveyed the damage on the horse to find that there was just some scratches and minor wounds. Chen grabbed the horse’s bridle and helped the animal stand up, he pet the long main to calm the mare. Once again Chen looked around and called out for the owner of the horse. When there was no reply he shrugged and looked back at the mare, then there was darkness.

***

    As he opened his eyes Chen registered the rocks digging into his back. The ground was damp and there was the sound of water dripping into a puddle. Chen winced as mud squished between his fingers while pushing to sit up. Chen felt gross as he realized mud covered his entire back.

“Just my luck,” Chen whispered into the empty room while getting up to search for his pack. “I just had to be too overconfident and casually stroll through one of the worst dungeons  in the entire country.”

With a gasp Chen looked down at his left hip only to see his sword gone, leaving him without a weapon to protect himself in the beast infested labyrinth. Chen ran his fingers through his hair in frustration only to groan as he remembered how dirty he was. His pack gone meant that he has no clean clothing to change into, and trying to find a place to clean in the dungeon would be difficult.

“Well, getting out of this room would be a good start,” looking around he saw a small opening in the wall of the cave like room.

Shrugging Chen walked up to the dimly lit opening and started to walk though. The only way for him to fit was to crouch down to be even smaller than his five foot, six frame. Quickly thanking his parents for his short stature, Chen proceeded to walk through the short hall out of the room. He could tell from his spot pressed up against the wall that it connected to a larger cave-like hall. Peeking around the corner Chen looked to see if there were any beast coming, all he could hear was water dripping from the ceiling.

“All this dripping water must mean I’m under ground right now.” Chen spoke to himself as he looked up, “I wonder, will I see someone else trapped in here? Probably, a lot of adventurers come into here, purposeful or not.”

Looking to the left and right Chen saw the hall stretching on into the dark, light only supplied by torches scattered on the walls. Randomly choosing a direction Chen turned left and walked. The mud drying onto his clothing and hair made him uncomfortable as he walked, but Chen tries to push the feeling away.

After walking for a while the hall curved into a turn and Chen slowed his walk and moved closer to the wall. As he got closer Chen could just hear the sound of footsteps coming down the hall. Peaking around the corner he saw two human like beasts, their bodies looked as if they merged with a bear, disfiguring their body. Chen quickly swung back around, once they turn the corner there would be no escaping, the hall stretched on and they were sure to see him no matter what.

“Damn,” he had no weapon to defend himself, as he turned around to run a beastly hand grabbed his arm.

***

    Kris swung the black sword at his side as he walked down the hall in a leisurely stroll. The dungeon’s hall was empty beside a beast’s body lying a few yards behind him. Kris had a new sword strapped on his hip and a pack on his back.

“There must be a new guy in here if that monster was carrying these around,” Kris looked down at the sword on his left hip. The belt squeezed his waist uncomfortably, even on its biggest setting.

“Must’ve been made for a tiny person, then again I am six foot,” he spoke out to the empty hall. “Why am I still talking to myself? Being in here for months must’ve messed with my mind a little. Oh well.”

Kris quieted down when he heard noises coming from the cave wall. Walking closer he pressed his ear to the cave’s wall. There were sounds of fighting and Kris assumed that this was another fake wall. He had come across many in his time in the dungeon, as it like to tricked people’s mind with a labyrinth. Taking the hilt of his sword Kris started smashing through the wall. It only look a few minutes to find the weakest parts and break though. When he walked through Kris saw two monsters and a small male fighting and he was obviously losing.

“Oi!” Kris yelled out and ran for the beasts, swinging his arm in an arch he attacked the closest one. Taken by surprise and unable to block it, the sword ran straight through the beast’s neck. The next monster was harder to beat, but with months fighting them Kris knew how to take them down. Wiping the blood from his sword onto his pants Kris walked over towards the boy sitting on the floor.

Before Kris could ask how he was the boy spoke, “That’s my sword, and my pack.”

“So you’re the new guy? Here,” Kris shrugged off the pack and undid the belt that held the sword and handed it to the boy still on the floor.

He quickly stood up and grabbed his things from the taller man, “I’m Chen.”

“Kris.”

“So Kris, how far down are we?”

“What are you talking about? We’re not underground,” Kri started walking down the way Chen had come from.

“But there’s all the water dripping down from the ceiling and it looks pretty underground like,” he had to jog a few steps to keep up with Kris’s long strides.

“That’s what the dungeon wants you to think!” Kris turned around to walk backwards, now facing Chen, “See, I’ve been here for longer than one should and in that time I studied this place. See there are many halls that are just next to each other and I have come across some big open rooms. You see, this dungeon has been here for a really long time, if this was an actual underground cave it would have collapsed a long time ago.”

With a flourish Kris turns around, the black sword in his hand just barely missing Chen’s arm in its’ swing. With a chuckle Kris sheaths his sword on the badly, hand made sheath on his back.

“Okay, so, not underground. How long have you been in here?” Chen eyes Kris, wary of his eccentric personality.

“Oh around four maybe five months, can’t really remember,” there was an air of lightness that doesn’t fit the statement.

“That’s a long time. Have you come across anyone else?” Chen takes in Kris’s stance.

The tall man is relaxed in ways he shouldn’t be in a extremely dangerous dungeon. It is as if he has no worries about being attack in the hall. Judging by how quickly he took down the two beasts though it seemed he might not have much to worry about. However, it was still unnerving that someone could be so casual in a place like this.

“Oh I’ve come across many people in here!” Kris exclaimed.

“Where are they now?”

“Dead. Most already like that before I found them. There’s been some baby animals in here as well, bunnies I think.” Chen was scared by the calmness which Kris talked about the dead.

“And the ones that weren’t dead when you found them?”

“Well the beasts got to them obviously! How else would they die? Oh wait! There was this one nice lady that killed herself. It was a terrible thing to watch, but at least she’s not in here anymore.”

Horrified, Chen looked at the man besides him, “That’s terrible. How are you still here?”

With a laugh Kris answered, “I was a knight in training before I got kicked out, pretty good at fighting if I do say so myself.”

“Ah, so any chance you know the way out of here?”

“Well let’s see, they normally take new people into the middle and that takes around a week for them to do it. How long have you been in here?” Kris stopped walking and turned towards Chen.

“Well it was almost sunset when I got knocked out. I’d say I’ve been awake for maybe half an hour?”

“Then we aren’t too far from the exit, there should be only one way in and out of here. I’ve checked just about the rest of this dungeon and haven’t found the exit yet so let’s hope the way it is close.”

“Yeah, let’s hope,” Chen followed Kris as he started down the hall again.

They were walking in silence for what felt like an hour in silence before there was noise of a struggle. Kris grabbed Chen by the arm and pulled him into a small cubby in the wall. Carefully peering around the corner they saw three beasts dragging a woman behind them. She was putting up a  fight, swinging around everywhere.

“They must’ve just found her, not all of us are knocked out when taken,” Kris leans down and whispers into Chen’s ear.

“Kris we have to help her,” Chen leaned back into the cubby.

“Did you see the weapon’s on those things? That’s more weapons than the beasts that lie further in,” Kris looked down at Chen.

“We can’t leave her there Kris, this is a dungeon.”

“Yes, we can leave her. This is a dungeon. I’ve tried to fight just one of those before, it didn’t work out very well for me or the person I was with. We have to wait for them to pass, Chen. I’ll help you out but I can’t take care of two people.”

Kris put a hand over Chen’s mouth and moved them further into the dark cubby. As the two beasts past them he pulled Chen in closer. Kris avoided looking at the fighting girl as she was dragged past them and forcefully turned Chen’s head the other way so he wouldn’t be forced to see the look on her face as she fought. Wetness soaked through the shoulder of Kris’s shirt, and he pulled the shorter closer. They both stayed there for a few minutes waiting for Chen to calm down and to make sure the beasts didn’t come back.

“You okay?” the taller man received a nod and he let go of Chen.

“Well, that’s going to leave a lasting memory in my mind,” Chen let out a forced chuckle.

“Come on, we should keep going,” Kris grabbed the shorter’s wrist, “we ought to be close to the exit.”

Kris pulled his wrist and kept a tight hold as they ran. They kept running and running until they felt the breeze of fresh air on their skin. A full moon greeted the two males and they sprinted out of the dungeon. Kris stopped to rest but Chen had grabbed his hand in return and pulled him to keep running. Kris wanted to complain, he should be the one leading, but the grip on his fingers was unrelenting.

***

    There was no longer a hand holding his, but now arms wrapped around his shoulders. There were hands covering his ears, and Kris wondered why his new friend would want to block his hearing. There were bright lights reflecting off of white walls, but that can’t be possible. There are no white walls in his country, only brown. Kris tried to lift his head up, but a hand pushed his head back into Chen’s shoulder, at least one of his ear’s was free now.

“There are more people in there, some of them are dead,” Chen’s voice was quiet, “You need to send people in. There was a girl, oh god she was fighting so hard to get free.”

“Don’t worry about that right now. We have sent a few squads to go to the location you described. Now if you don’t mind, I would like to ask a question. How long were you in there? It’s winter of 2016 right now,” There was a lady in some weird looking clothes. They looked fancy, but they weren’t any royal robes. Kris didn’t know clothing like that existed.

“I think I was in there for maybe a year? It was hard to tell, there were no clocks or ways to keep track. Kris, he was in there for so much longer, he must have spent years trapped in there,” Chen started running his fingers through Kris’s blonde hair to calm himself.

“What did they do to you,” the lady clicked her pen and held up a note pad.

“They-,” Chen cut off to sort his mind out, “They would inject us with things, make us see things. Some of the guards liked to mess with the younger people, said that they were pretty. They would hurt us.”

Kris was confused, what was Chen talking about? They were in a dungeon with beasts. There were no guards or injections.

“Did you hurt any of them?” the lady asked slowly as she scribbled on her paper.

“Kris. With a pipe. He had to do it!” Chen voice rose louder, almost frantic, “They were going to hurt me. He was protecting me.”

“What exactly happened?”

“There were two guards, they were transporting me somewhere to do stuff to me. Kris came out with, with a pipe. He hit them in the back of the head till they stopped moving. I swear he was just trying to protect me! He didn’t want them hurting us, or anyone else!” Chen pulled the taller man further into his chest. The woman set her pen and pad down on the glass table in front of them. She leaned back to look at the two of them with a cold gaze.

“We talked while down there. I swear he’s a good person! He did what he had to to get us out! He just wanted to help the rest of us” Chen’s words seemed to have no effect on her scrutinizing gaze.

“He’s dangerous. He has blood all over his clothing. I should take him somewhere where he can’t-”

“No!” Chen’s shout cut her off, “He’s not dangerous, I’ll take care of him. Don’t take him away from me.” A plethora of pleas left Chen’s mouth and Kris smiled because it was such a Chen thing to care for a person he just met. Kris reached a hand behind Chen and rubbed his back, pulling him closer as the taller did so. Kris was happy that he was out of that dungeon and he managed to get someone out with him, he hopes more people get out.

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