Chapter 2

Eizel 3

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Eizel—a responsible trapper, unlike someone she knew—opened the Blueprint system, targeted her pit trap, and deconstructed it.

The benefit of following the Oqertons’ safety guidelines of cleaning up your own mess was the recovery of 50% of the invested resources unless the trap was damaged in some way.

The spikes and wicker turned into brown pixels that rushed into a floating bag. Then the ground at the pit’s bottom lifted until no such pit existed anymore.

Loot

  • 13× Stick
  • 22× Plant Fiber

She swiped the items into her inventory.

A guiding line appeared, displaying the most convenient way to reach her new destination, and she followed it, acutely aware of the many potential ways she could die.

Nine days was a generous amount of time to acclimate to the dangers in the Wilds. That was what she told the constant nagging sense of fear that wouldn’t leave her alone. And it didn’t matter how many times she died. . . .

“Without fear, you’re not living,” her father once said. It seemed to be his life’s motto. Those who weren’t constantly pushing against the walls of their comfort zone weren’t living, weren’t progressing toward their goals.

Eizel didn’t quite agree. There was a lot that could be done without stressing herself out. Not all goals needed to be life-changing.

With that said, as long as fear didn’t paralyze her from acting, it was okay to be afraid. Courage didn’t exist without fear. Huh, in that case, she was the most courageous person in the Land!

The guiding line led down a slope. Her bare feet slid on the slick mud that was covered in red leaves. Things croaked and hooted and buzzed. Plants glowed in the darkness. And the music chimed sleepily.

She climbed over moss-coated rocks to a dirt road: two parallel trails with fervent foliage growing between them. Some of the Guntheks, she had found, moved resources between their bases, pulling crudely built wagons.

At this time of night, however, most of the Guntheks were safely behind their spiked walls and mud-splotched buildings. The only ones to keep an eye out for were their scouts.

A bush covered in Luicon Berries begged her attention. She failed to resist. They tasted like candy! A sweet viscous juice with a hint of watermelon and honeydew mixed together.

Instead of picking each berry individually—though that was an option—she simply tapped the bush as if it were a bag and swiped all 16 of them into her inventory.

Being out this far from the city had its benefits. The disadvantage, regrettably, was how very long it took to get here. If there were more waypoints, she had failed to find them.

A panting noise of what could only be a Night Wolf sent her creeping in the opposite direction. Pulling a monster’s aggro without a trap had never ended well for her, especially Night Wolves, which were far faster than their Day Wolf counterparts.

The ground, all around, sloped in the same direction. The stones were no longer round or oblong. They were square or rectangular, some with curious-looking symbols etched into their sides.

This is new. . . .

What did Eizel-mini know? If this amounted to anything, the little avatar was getting a promotion! Eizel would even design her helper a unique dress for the occasion, not that she needed a reason to design anything new.

A rush of excitement, an electric buzz, filled her chest, sparking with anticipation. Anything new could evolve into the solution she had been searching for all these days.

The ground changed, no longer dirt but stone in the shape of old steps, cracked and covered in forest debris.

She descended, brushing the hanging vines away and stepping over gnarled roots that had broken the stairs in more than a few places.

Something hummed. It was a continuous sound, not from a person or monster. This hum vibrated in her chest. It seeped out from the ground, making her toes tingle.

At the last step, the guiding line faded. She had reached her destination. It was a perfectly flat circle about thirty feet across, covered in the discarded leaves of giant trees surrounding it.

Carefully, silently, and infinitely attentive to every detail, she crept forward. The leaves that crunched beneath her feet were the only sound she made.

A gust of wind swirled around her, picking up the leaves in perfect rings, uncovering more arcane symbols. The humming grew as she progressed. And at the precise moment that she stepped to the center, stone started grinding.

Blocks as big as she was, lifted from the ground, each with glowing orange symbols. The air distorted around them, pulsing, bending the dim luminescence that made up the night.

She waited for a dozen beats of her excited heart, then tentatively reached out to the closest block. There seemed to be a force pushing against her hand, but it didn’t stop her from touching it.

And when she did, everything changed.

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(Dungeon Runner, Book 3.1)
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  • GameLit
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  • Young Adult