Chapter 18:

Chapter 16: Second Gate

Your Healer

Chapter 16: Second Gate

I tried to calm myself down by slowly breathing… in and out, in and out.

I did not know why I was so nervous.

"Ohh, what's that?" Nada's question brought me back to real life. Miko came toward us with a black scabbard with some gold ornaments on it in her hand.

"Glad that you ask." She grinned over her whole face, looking kind of proud. "It's a magical sword that I looted from a dungeon. Actually, it is not even a sword but a mass of magical ore that changes appearance after my imagination."

You could hear that it wasn't the first time she had told someone exactly that. It's strange that she never showed me the sword before or even talked about it. She must have thought I wouldn't be interested in it.

However, being disappointed in my friend helped me lose the tension I felt before. Of course, my heart was still beating a little too fast.... maybe I should get that checked. I feel like it's been happening way too often lately.

"Are we showing off our fancy stuff here?" Luna came over to us with a box in her hands. But honestly, I wasn't interested in that box right now… but in her looks. She was wearing a hell of an outfit. She looked like you would imagine a grown-up magical girl. She wore a corset, which emphasized the shape of her feminine body even more.

"What the fuck is that?" Wace asked in a seriously shocked voice, having trouble closing his mouth again as he eyed Luna from head to toe.

"Stop looking at me like that! It's not like I want to wear that outfit. I get forced to do it."

"By whom?"

"Our PR Manager…" she sulked.

"But is that manager here right now?"

"No… she isn't."

"Then, I don't know, just don't wear it?"

Wace was on a hot streak there.

"Here, take your headphones. Nada will explain how they work... and I'll go change." I could bet she sounded more relieved than sad to get out of that outfit.

"You would look cute in that," Miko said, hitting me softly in the side with her elbow.

"Not as cute as you."

Yep, that was smooth.

Nada started clearing her throat a bit too loud, asking for our attention.

"These headphones, which look awfully similar to earbuds, are like magic walkie-talkies that are already coupled together. You activate them by connecting them to your mana system. Every word you speak while doing so is sent to the others."

I took one of the devices and put it in my ear. After sending mana into it, I felt it connected to my system. It's hard to describe this sensation. At first, it tickled for sure, but I got accustomed to it after a few seconds.

I almost asked if we couldn't use our phones in the dungeon, but apparently, there was a bit of a connection problem when you entered another world. It was still hard to grasp that it was possible to be teleported to another place by simply walking through a huge stone gate fueled by magic.

A few minutes later, Luna returned to us with an outfit more similar to ours, except she was missing the fancy poncho. But with her back, we were ready to begin our mission to unravel the mysteries of this dungeon.


Since we decided not to spend our mana running to the cave, it would take us several hours to arrive at our destination. Until now, we met nothing but slimes in the grass and giant birds flying in the air until Alex suddenly stopped walking.

"Wait, what are those?"

I did not instantly see what she meant because I was almost the last person in our formation. Only Luna was behind me.

Nada stayed back in camp because we would get close to the forest where the ambush on Kristoff's guild took place, so we had to expect enemy contact.

"Are those cows?" Miko asked after I, too, had come to a stop. I also would have described these creatures as something that resembled a cow, except that they were easily the size of an elephant.

"We have to go around the herd. There are about twenty females. And please look at the bull." Luna tried to point at him.

The moment I laid my eyes on the bull, I felt a shiver running down my spine.

While the cows looked like friendly, calm giants, the bull reminded me more of what I would expect to find in a dungeon.

It had two massive horns that radiated a flaming aura around them. The eyes glowed red, and instead of having fur, it wore pitch-black, leathery-looking skin with scales that reminded me of a dragon.

Whatever would decide to attack that monster had to be very stupid or unreasonably strong.

"Relax, Kayla, your breathing is getting uneasy," Miko whispered as she touched my back. "They're harmless as long as you don't threaten them."

I slowly breathed out, "I know, but my imagination was running wild."

"Sorry for not preparing you." She sounded pitiful.

"Don’t worry, I won’t tell Lilith.” I chuckled and tried to ease the tension.

"Whenever something is worrying you, just tell us to stop. I don't want you to suffer in here."

"It's fine, Miko, it's really all right."

Why was she so worried about me? Did I look so stressed?

While Miko and I had some kind of serious talk, Alex and Krystoff were laughing. They seemed very chill. I envied them.

"What do you think... could we win against them?" asked Wace, looking around.

"You're not really planning on doing anything, are you?" Krystoff asked, with no trace of the smile he wore earlier.

"Do you think any of us but you would be able to kill that bull?" Miko wanted to know and looked at Wace with a smug face.

“I guess Luna could if she manages to one-shot it with her attack.”

"Is that even possible?" asked Alex with an incredulous look on her.

"Oh yes, Luna is a beast. I'm much more afraid of her than I am of the bull." Wace laughed.

"You better be, and now let's go. We don't want to keep Nada waiting all day. The poor girl is all alone in the camp."

And just as Luna said, we got moving again. I was walking right behind Miko. “Did you ever see something like that?” I asked.

“Not really.”

“How many dungeons did you clear already?” Wace joined our conversation.

“Twenty-one,” Miko answered.

“In what period? Two years?”

“Yeah, roughly. Why?”

“A bit extreme for a young girl if you ask me.” Wace chuckled.

"What about you, Wace?" I asked. He didn't look any older than Miko and me.

"About thirty, but remember that our guild only clears A-rank dungeons. These missions are a bit more difficult and dangerous than what little Miko has had to deal with so far."

I expected a snappy reply from Miko, but she just huffed through her nose and remained silent.

“And I heard that it is your first time, Kayla. We should do something to celebrate that.”

"I'm fine if we survive it." This was meant as a joke to ease my tension, as I was actively trying not to overthink about possible bad stuff. But it wasn't funny to Krystoff, who glared at me for a moment after my comment.

I then dropped back a little, wanting to build some distance to Krystoff. This brought me a little closer to Luna, who let me walk beside her with a great smile.

"How are you, Kayla? Everything good so far?"

"Yep, can't complain."

"Look, we can already see the forest quite well, so we should reach the cave soon. So please stay in formation."

"Sorry, will do right away."

"No, no, stick with me for now. It's awfully boring back here. I'm just looking at your backs the whole time."

“Fine, by the way, Luna, what I wanted to ask. Why did you come with us? I thought you wanted to stay at camp.”

"Don't tell the others, but I was nervous about giving up the lead right away on the first day. I don't really know you guys. I'm sure Wace, in particular, has a lot of experience. Still, I think he has trouble empathizing with us regular people.”

"Is he that different from us?" I couldn't really understand what made him so different. Obviously, I had never seen him in action, and I was already impressed with everything Miko had shown me of her abilities so far.

“Unfortunately, I am sure that sooner or later, you will see what he is capable of, but again, we are lucky to have someone like him around.”

Yes, I knew we would hardly complete the mission without fighting, but as mentioned before, I tried not to think about such things.


After another hour, we reached the cave. It was right at the foot of a hill that also marked the beginning of the forest where Kristoff's guild had been ambushed about a month ago.

"Wace, would you please check for enemies?" Miko asked him. He only nodded and put his hands on the ground. A moment later, I felt something touching my mana system, and my whole body tingled briefly.

"I can't detect anyone, or rather nothing, but us."

“Just as the last time,” Krystoff mumbled.

“As far as I know, your scout just checked the mana remnants close to the gate inside that cave and not for enemies,” Luna said rather coldly.

"Don't hold it against him. The spell I just used drains most normal mages of their mana." Wace raised his eyebrows, shrugged, and looked at us with a faint smile.

"Who's going in?" asked Alex, were those her first words since we had entered the dungeon? I hadn't paid much attention to her, and I almost felt bad for not asking her about her well-being.

"I can stay outside. I'm not a big fan of caves," Miko said, shooting me a quick glance.

"Me neither." I actually wanted to go inside, but it seemed like I had to wait for my chance.

"Great, so you two will keep watch out here, and we'll check the gate," Luna said, clapping her hands together. "Lead the way," she slapped Krystoff on the back, and so the four of them slowly disappeared into the darkness.

"Why did you stay?" Miko asked me, dumbfounded, after the others had left.

“Because you wanted me to do so?”

“I have given you an explicit sign that it's okay if you go in.”

“You mean that one look? How am I supposed to read that into it?”

“I don't know. Apparently, you were able to interpret that I wanted you to stay with me.”

To be clear, I didn't want to blame Miko for anything. In the end, she was entirely right. I thought she wanted me to stay, but maybe I was the one who actually wanted to stay with her.

We both sat down on a large rock near the cave entrance. Miko sighed, looked up at the sky, and dropped her head onto my lap.

“Can I?”

“Normally, you ask before doing something like that.”

“But I just felt like it. It was an impulse, so I’m asking now.”

Since when did she feel the urge to touch me? Okay, thinking back, she touches me quite often, but not in a way that suggests she wants to use me as a pillow.

“Yes, it's fine, but don’t forget that we need to keep our focus.”

“Wace told us that there aren’t any threats nearby.”

Again, she sighed.

“Can it be that you want me to ask you what’s wrong?”

She smiled. “Maybe.”

“Okay, fine. What’s wrong, Miko?”

“This mission is no fun. I would rather go back to school just spend time with you alone.”

What was that? She admitted that she wanted to be alone with me?

"Don't get my hopes up, not that I'll interpret your dislike of this mission as affection for me."

“Sorry.” she chuckled.

“But for real, I would like to have a real adventure with you one day.”

“First, we need to get through this one.” No matter how nice it sounded to be alone with her, I didn't want to crush her dreams.


“We are close. It should be around here.” I was inside that cave just once back at my last mission, but I studied the notes, and we even had a map, so it wasn’t that hard to follow the way.

The cave's ceiling was at most two meters high, so we walked slightly crouched to avoid hitting our heads on the hanging stalactites.

Luna created a small orb of light that illuminated a large radius around us. It seemed as if the ball would follow us automatically, but I was aware that Luna had incredible control over her mana, and that was the reason it was not noticeable that she was directing it all along.

“Do you sense anyone nearby?” Alex, who was walking right behind me, asked, looking back at Wace.

“Nothing. And you should look ahead. I don't want you to fall.”

"That's so nice of you, but I can handle it."

I liked her sarcastic tone; she surely respected Wace but also showed that we were all on the same level here, entirely apart from our magical abilities or experience.

Obviously, I would never say anything like that. I grew up with a strict hierarchy and knew exactly where my place was.

"Here it is," I announced, stopping before a narrow entrance to another part of the cave. Luna sent the orb in front of us, and with me in the lead, we slowly fought our way through the tight opening.

Entering the chamber, I found… nothing? I was confident the gate should have been right there, but it wasn’t.

“What’s wrong?” Luna asked after she passed me and looked me straight in the face. I couldn’t hide the confusion I felt right now.

Almost in a panic, I pulled out the map of the cave. The layout of the place we were standing in was exactly the same, but where the gate was supposed to be was.... "Wait, is that rubble?"

“Wait here, I'll take a look at it,” Wace called out and slowly walked over, just to start laughing a moment later.

“What’s so funny?” Luna asked, sounding a bit on edge.

"You know what it looks like? It looks like someone took the gate."

“Took it?” Alex asked and breathed out loudly. I could feel the tension around us.

“There is far too little debris to assume they destroyed the gate. Rather, it looks like they had carefully removed it to rebuild it elsewhere.”

Wace's words made perfect sense. The monsters were aware that we knew about the second gate. Another surprise attack from here would not be possible... I just wanted to throw up. I felt my heart beating in my throat.

"Let's get out of here," Luna said shortly, turning on her heel.

She led us out of the cave as if she knew the way better than I did. On the way out, we didn't speak a single word, not that anyone knew what to say right now.

Being able to breathe the fresh air of the dungeon again ultimately didn't help against that bad feeling inside my chest.

"What's wrong? Did you see a ghost?" Miko asked, standing up from the rock she was sitting on with Kayla.

I sighed, “Worse, the gate is gone.”

And just like Wace back in the cave, Miko started to laugh. Was this something that powerful mages did when they were caught off guard?

The only thing I felt was anxiety. I couldn't really stand the thought of being led around by the nose by a bunch of goblins.

“So, what’s your call leader?” Miko asked looking at Luna.

“Let’s check out the forest.”