104 Beyond the portal
The hieroglyphs likely told the story of when the floor became one! But why? Why did the floors merge? Ed tried his best to come up with a potential reason but came up empty.
Was there really a need to merge the floors? Did it help improve security or something? Ed couldn't come up with an answer. At least not with his current knowledge.
'Now that I think about it… the monster encyclopedia might have something' Ed had considered reading it before but he had put it on the back of his mind eventually forgetting about it in its entirety.
He had neglected that although the encyclopedia likely mostly spoke of monsters, their anatomy, skills, weaknesses, etc. It was also bound to hold some information about their habitats. Could a dungeon be considered a habitat? Well, not really.
If anything habitats are recreated inside of dungeons. Nonetheless, there had to be some dungeon exclusive monsters right? If that was the case he just might be able to learn a thing or two about dungeons.
'At the same time, dungeons and monsters go hand in hand' If he was lucky there just might be a segment that spoke in detail about dungeons and how they functioned.
'I am sure Vorgarag has the book right now, I should go ask for it later..' it was still quite late so making a ruckus was not ideal.
Then again, knowing that the adventurers were already on this floor was a big deal. Ed didn't know where exactly they had spawned in the vast expanse so it was a good idea to alert the others even if during the night.
'Alright then, let's do that' With informing him as a pretext, he would wake up Vorgarag and then ask for the book. He would only keep it since time was a bit tight at the moment for really obvious reasons.
Ed didn't grab anything and simply left his home. The arranged homes for each of them were fairly close so it didn't take long for him to reach Vorgarag's home.
Ed knocked on the door a couple of times. He then heard some slow steps that likely came from a drowsy Vorgarag. The door was opened and Vorgarag looked at Ed annoyedly,
"I am assuming this is important" Nonetheless, he still needed to keep a certain amount of decorum when handling others.
"The enemies are here. It is safe to assume we have a day at most" Ed went straight into the crux of things. Vorgarag's expression instantly changed to a solemn one.
"Is that all the time we have?" He seriously asked.
"Yeah…" Ed replied. He hated to be the bearer of bad news but there was no way around it.
"We can't wait until morning then…" Vorgarag mumbled pensively after throwing a glance inside his home, he was looking at his only comfort the bed. He would have to work overtime.
"Do you still have the books I loaned you?" Ed asked Vorgarag who seemed to be deliberating over something.
"Ah, yes. I brought them over so they should be on a desk. You can have a look then, I'll go wake up Duma." Vorgarag answered before waving goodbye. He headed out of the door with some haste leaving Ed by himself.
'Let's skim it a bit first' Ed thought as he headed into the house to search for the encyclopedia. If he could quickly find what he was looking for in a table of contents then he wouldn't have to postpone it.
"Urgh-!" Drake groaned as he hit the rocky floor.
The portal had made him significantly dizzy and dazed. But as an experienced adventurer, it took him no more than 10 seconds to recover from the surreal feeling.
He glanced around the immediate area warily as he stood up. He was currently standing on some black and cracked stone tiles. The portal was behind him and apart from what seemed to be the remains of ruined walls everything was tranquil green grass.
The vast expanse of grass was currently illuminated by what Drake could only imagine was artificial moonlight. It all looked very picturesque and peaceful.
"...this is actually a dungeon" Drake had ventured through many dungeons as well as habitats. Dungeons were usually located in places with abundant mana. Mountains, forests, caverns, these sorts of places were common dungeon terrain.
A dungeon usually takes after its environment. At most, it would have its own bizarre twists that make it stand out from the regular wilderness. Of course, having floors and an abnormal amount of monsters already makes it incomparable to the wilderness.
The problem with this was… this was a different environment altogether!
Drake couldn't wrap his head around the reason why. He wasn't in the research field anyways so mulling over this would only tire his mind. More importantly, he needed to get back to Samuel and the others.
He wasn't too keen on experiencing the teleportation a second and third time but there was no way around it.
He sunk his body back into the black void and after what felt like a second he reappeared in front of the adventurers.
"I think we should just get a space exper-" Christian was currently debating whether they should reconsider entering the portal when suddenly, the portal shook!
Out of it came out nobody other than Drake. Just like last time, he fell to the ground. Although this time it was more akin to tumbling.
"Drake!" Samuel involuntarily yelled in alarm. What did he experience in those short ten minutes to come out seemingly injured!? Thoughts like this ran through many of the other adventurers' heads after seeing the way Drake exited from the portal.
Clarys immediately ran to aid him and immediately the others also snapped out of their stupor.
"Hey no wait! I'm okay!" Drake who was recovering from the effects of the travel quickly asserted. He stood up without issue and the others either had expressions of relief or confusion.
"What happened in there?" Samuel asked still somewhat concerned.
"What happened??? How much can happen in a minute?" Drake accidentally retorted with evident confusion.
The others paused as they processed what they had just heard.
"It has been at least a good 10 minutes." Chrisitan told Drake who was now even more confused.
They discussed the matter a few more times, even hearing things from Drake's perspective, before concluding that it was just likely a side effect of space travel. Some of the more scholarly adventurers also pitched in to advocate this point.
"Well, the point is that it's now safe to head in." Drake said terminating the discussion.
"Alright then, let's head in." Samuel said while still thinking about Drake's experience, it was just odd.
The more Samuel ventured into this dungeon the more uncomfortable he felt. It was as if a lot of the knowledge and experience he had accumulated over the years was becoming completely obsolete.
Bizzare, surreal. Such words were capable of describing this feeling accurately. He also felt fear, he feared for his life as well as everybody else's.
Was it still ok to continue exploring this place? This doubt occasionally made its way into his mind. Samuel was forced to suppress this uncomfortable feeling of foreboding every time it popped up.
All of the adventurers entered the portal one by one. This was a VERY time-consuming process. Since the portal was only large enough for one person, coupled with the time delay, they had to wait 4 or 5 minutes per person.
They ended up wasting 6 or 7 whole hours just trying to get across the portal. Samuel didn't stay idle within that time though. He sent out the B-class adventurers along with some C-class adventurers to scout out the immediate surrounding.
He also brought out the magical device used for measuring spatial instability to test out the current floor.
"Stable…" He muttered audibly.
Dungeons were separate spaces. This meant that spatial fluctuation was inevitable. The previous floors were labeled as stable but it was only since the instability was within an acceptable threshold. This… This was comparable to the world outside of the dungeon!
"It's close to breaking out…" Samuel once more muttered, this time in realization.
Hearing his own words finally allowed for panic to set in. Samuel had only dabbled briefly in the logic of dungeon breaks since the field was outside of his expertise. It was studied by space magicians or just scholars and researchers in general.
If he were to summarize their findings it would go something like this. A dungeon stabilizes its floors intending to break out of its confined space.
To break out, the dungeon would have to quite literally BREAK the space that binds it. This can create large ripples across space which could deal lasting damage to the dungeon and anything in it. If the dungeon is stable however the effect is largely diminished.
Some speculate that the dungeon intends to integrate with the outside world but these calamities are quickly eradicated so it remains as mere speculations. Regardless, a stable dungeon was an unpredictable danger. And anything unpredictable had to be removed from the equation.