Chapter 2:

Chapter 2 - Empty Vessel

Dungeon Eater

An empty…what? Did he lose too much blood and is just rambling now? I asked myself.

The violent metallic sound of the monster's struggles filled the room and sent my legs into a nervous shiver.

“What is that thing…?” I asked anxiously.

“A Brancher, it’s a powerful creature that followed me down to the lowest floor in my attempts to flee from… a previous battle. Cough Cough!

“There’s no way…monsters are trapped to whatever floor they spawn from, if it managed to follow you down here then it must be a… a…Wandering Boss!”

Wandering Bosses are monsters born from irregularity. I’ve heard that they can be any monster, from any floor but their strength and powers are much stronger. The main factor of a wandering boss is that it can cross the barrier between floors and travel down as far as it wants, which poses a problem for the people residing on weaker floors.

I had only ever heard of them through legends and tales, even regular adventurers go a lifetime only seeing one maybe not at all. I should have felt honoured to even see one with my own eyes but all I felt at the time was the aggressive shaking in my legs.

I bent down to help him up but as my hand touched his back, I felt the warm sensation of blood curdle my fingertips. He must have seen the fear through my eyes because a moment later, he pulled away a portion of his robe and revealed the wound in his chest.

The massive hole in his chest still dripped fresh with blood, it was large enough to see right through his body. I couldn’t believe he still had the ability to talk after suffering a wound like that.

“I don’t know what to…what can I…I…”

“You’re still far too green to want to help me young human but I thank you. I suppose you haven’t seen much of this Towers majesty yet, have you? No of course you haven't…your body wouldn’t allow it either way.”

He talked over my fumbled words and silenced me with a warm smile. He wasn’t human, I didn’t even know what he was and yet he saw right through me.

So that’s how weak I am, so pathetic that I’m an eyesore to a dying old man.

“My name is Ellios, a resident of the world within the Tower. I know this must come as a shock to you but please, will you hear my plea?”

Without so much as a word left to utter, all I could do was nod.

“I come from the top floors of this Tower, as you can see I am not a human but another species entirely. Cough! Cough! I don’t have a lot of time left, so I’ll be brief…”

If he really is from the highest floors of the Tower, how could I pass up the opportunity to hear him speak? Humanity’s only ever climbed to the twenty-eighth floor, so maybe it’s something a human simply can’t achieve.

“Using the last reserve of my magic, I trapped the Brancher within this makeshift room only to be left without any means of destroying it…I used up the last reserve of my magic and am nearing my final breath. It’s pitiful to admit but I require a human's help, I require the power of a Gift.”

Is he referring to the Gift we humans received upon entering the Tower? He needs a warrior…not a pathetic weakling.

My head lowered, I didn’t know what to say. How would I have been able to tell him that his last efforts to survive would be for nought? That the only one there to help him was a weakling who could only kill Funks.

“However, now that I lay my eyes on you, I realize that you are an anomaly… I’ve never met a human within the Tower without a Gift.”

My crimson eyes met his, I saw my bewildered expression bounce off of his gaze and back at me.

“Without a…Gift?” I muttered back.

The staggering crashes of chains eventually drowned out as distant noise. All my senses froze and my vision became blurry, it felt as though my entire state of being was thrown through the loop.

Is he trying to say I don’t…I don’t have a Gift? But that’s impossible, I’ve never heard of anything like that, there’s just no way!

“Everyone who enters the Tower receives a Gift, I just haven't been pushing myself far enough to-”

“Have you grown stronger?”

The old man spoke sternly over me.

His words cut through my chest sharper than any blade could. My breathing became heavy, it felt as if the floor would swallow me whole.


His finger reached out to me and rested against my chest. He paused for a moment with his eyes glued to mine and then suddenly all the pain and anxiety fled my body as abruptly as it arrived.

I felt my senses grow sharper as if they were being guided back to my body's centre by a bright light. There was no bright light, no magic spell, nothing…he simply looked at me and my attention was his.

“Do you wish to grow stronger?”

“I do!”

“You’re an amusing human, that’s for sure.” His cracked cheeks curved upwards as a smirk broke through his glare, “So fight!”


Both our eyes jolted over to the source of that noise. The Brancher had its right log-shaped arm raised into the air with one of the chains hanging loose off of it.

As soon as the chain fell to the ground it began to crumble away like sand in the wind.

Fear flooded to the surface and my face reacted accordingly. My eyes widened and I backed away, I barely made it a step back before the wall's hard surface hugged my back.

I pulled out my sword and held it upright, directly in front of me. Knowing that I had to fight something that strong made my nerves even worse. My hands shook so much that I could barely hold my sword straight.

“Steel yourself. To overcome adversity one must be willing to sacrifice everything.”

His harsh tone filled my ears and steadied my hands. I could suddenly see the tip of my sword after it finally stopped moving.

“Y-yes sir!”

The last chain snapped from the ground, freeing the monster completely. The two gleaming red spots on its block-shaped head were directed at me.

“You won’t need to kill it, just fight as if you were aiming to. All I need is a single minute.”

One minute? I thought he didn’t have any magic left, what could he whip up in that amount of time?!

Even if he had something, I was still vastly outmatched. Higher-ranked monsters were always more powerful but compared to a regular person they kill someone with just a scratch.

“Are you still frightened?” Ellios asked.

“If what you said is true then…what do I have to lose? I’ve been fighting every day without a Gift, so what’s one more time?” I responded with a forced smile.

I’ll probably die here but for some reason, I can’t help but get excited. I can fight with everything I have, even if it’s only for one minute.

The tingling sensation that rushed through my body made everything feel like a blur, yet at the same time, everything was clearer than ever before. I wasn’t sure if it was nerves or adrenaline but my body was raring to go.

I darted forward with the sword lagging at my side, halfway across the room the monster and I came close to crashing. At the very last second I dove forward and tucked my body into a ball as I rolled past its feet.

I could feel the overwhelming force that it was able to generate just by running. The air around it was being pushed out of the way from its stumpy feet. Its movement alone commanded the air to move, what would I have done against it?

My body just narrowly avoided being squashed as I rolled across the ground, spinning out of control.

“I guess…I am just a regular human. How can it create such heavy pressure just from running?!”

The Brancher scanned around in confusion as to where I had vanished, unaware that I was standing under it.

I backed away slowly but the element of surprise vanished instantly. A twig snapped under the weight of my foot and the monster turned back, angrier than ever. It somehow looked even scarier than it did before.

Every motion its arm made left an eerie squeak that left shivers down my spine. I knew that if it touched me even lightly with those massive arms, I would have been blown into chunks.

Without telling my body to, I dodged out of the way of its attack. My body had always been more aware than I was, sometimes moving before I even thought of doing so. In a battle without any powers, it was my greatest weapon.

A large log went flying past my head, grazing against my cheek as I ducked to the side. The impact from the attack blew me away and sent me rolling across the dirt again. Blood filled my vision and stained the scene with a dark red shade.

I couldn't even see its arm coming, if I hadn’t moved out of the way as quickly as I did, I wouldn’t have made it.

Another wild swing came my way.

I dove to the side to avoid it but my body wasn’t able to make it as far as before, my body ran out of steam.

I felt the solid force of what felt like a whole tree, crash into my ribs. Every bone, muscle and whatever else was left in my body had been broken beyond repair.


A mouthful of blood sprayed out and covered me. My vision became blurry, splitting the roof into double images and hazing everything together as if I were drunk.

My hand instinctively raced to the wound but was cut short by the stinging aches in my sides. Even the simple motion of moving my arm managed to upset my injuries and caused a second rush of pain to flood my body.

One, two, no everything feels broken- argh! I can’t move without feeling an overwhelming pain…I’m surprised I even managed to survive that.

My vision focused back into a solid image of the Brancher standing over me with both arms raised into the air. My heart was racing thinking about what the next move would be.

Move! If you want to survive then push yourself and move…MOVE!

I rolled off to the side, forcing my body through the excruciating pain. Its arms crashed into the ground and created a crater in the spot I rolled away from.

Between my double vision and ringing ears, I couldn't focus on where the monster was and struggled to gain my bearings. A multitude of hazy large wooden figures approached me as I lay in the dirt clutching to my side.

“Not…yet…I hav- haven't even given…my all yet!!” I picked up my sword from the ground and used it as a crutch to keep me from falling.

Everything had gone numb, even the excruciating pain I felt in my sides had faded out. I could barely keep myself standing before falling to my knees.

The Brancher’s arm wound back to send out another destructive punch, filling the room with the sound of creaking and stretching roots. It was beyond anything I had ever faced, I’m sure even the toughest adventurers in Istoria would have had a rough time.

Even so…

“Like hell, I’ll stand still! Give me…your all, I’ll never stop fighting!”

I walked towards it with what little strength I had left, using the momentum of my body about to fall over to gain more speed. Just as its titanic stump flew towards me I leaped out onto its arm and stumbled forwards into a roll.

I didn’t care how pathetic I looked or how terrible I was moving. I ignored the screaming pains from my body and pushed forward, further and further.

If I had powers like Ellios’, or the strength to split a mountain, I could have helped more! I could have done more if I had a power like theirs! I don’t care if I don’t have that power…I don’t need it to take you on!

Stumbling and falling over myself, I raced up the monster's arm and leapt off its shoulders. My sword dragged behind me in the hand I still had feeling in and drove it forward with everything I had.


The sword plunged into the monster's head and shattered like glass, unable to pierce through the tough wooden exterior.

The Brancher threw up its arms and sent me flying off of it. I smashed against the roof of the dome and scattered more blood over the Dungeon before crashing down on the ground.

I felt the last remaining bones in my back break into shards, knocking the life out of me. My grasp on consciousness slipped away as all feeling in my body disappeared completely.

The Brancher's arms hovered over me and right before impact, a demanding tone stretched over the room.

“Ethereal Flame!”

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