Dungeons of the Abyss and the Unchosen Heroes
The east wing of the temple of Arithmi had two floors, the first floor held the bedrooms of the female clerics and the second floor was for the males. There was a single set of stairs leading up to the second floor and it was upon this staircase that barricades had been put up. The barricades were makeshift, essentially just a bunch of chairs, drawers, wardrobes, and even beds, placed in a pile to block access.
Watching over the barricade was Auguste, leaning against the wall next to the stairs. On his person, there were a few drops of blood. It was not his, but instead, belonging to one of the victims of the Mimics that had broken in while he was escorting the clerics up the second floor. Fortunately, unlike those he encountered at the Stone Circle Tombs, the victims were mostly regular townsfolk and lacked the fighting capabilities of Dungeoneers. As such, Auguste was able to fight a few of them off and was able to get the clerics to safety, most of them, at least.
Focusing on his hearing, Auguste could hear shambling downstairs, probably the Mimics looking for a way up. They seemed determined to get to them for some reason. Since they proliferate within the bodies of other living creatures, could this be their reproductive instincts? Or was it something more?
Auguste took out a spherical object from his pocket and took a gander at it. It was a green gem with something dark swirling within, the so-called hi-catalyst. Briefly, he wondered if they were, in fact, coming after this little thing. They did come right after the old woman handed it over to him, a little too impecible of a timing if you ask him. Then again, could they truly be intelligent enough for such a specific motive? Auguste had no answer.
However, in spite of it all, Auguste found himself to be relatively calm. It was something he noticed when he looked at the cleric stationed beside him. The man was fidgeting and sweating, clearly anxious and scared. Compared to him, Auguste was relaxed, his heart beating as steadily as it would any other time of the day.
He was used to it, to being in a Dungeon, to be surrounded by danger. The knowledge that the hall he's standing in would not suddenly spring a trap or have some kind of creature creeping about in an unseen corner only added to his comfort.
So long as the barricade held, they should be safe. Till then, they only needed to wait for help. Though for how long, that he did not know and it made him just a little bit uneasy. They had no food or water up here after all. They won't last very long. The kitchen wasn't too far away. If he could just have a rope made out of the curtains, he could easily climb down there and make off with some supplies. That being said, he couldn't count on the chances of the food being untouched. From the report released by the Scholars, the Mimics tend to contaminate food sources in order to infiltrate the bodies of their victims orally and begin their infestation from the stomach. If Morganna was here, they might be able to boil the food and make it safe to eat, but she's all the way in the new town, on the other side of the wall.
In the end, there was nothing they could do but wait and hope that it will not be long before someone comes to their aid.
"For how long..."
Auguste could hear the cleric beside him mumbling something.
"For how long do we have to wait?" the cleric asked.
Auguste unintentionally frowned. He didn't have the answer, he barely had a gist of the situation. Having been asked, he felt the pressure to come up with something. Depending on how he answers it, he might just make things worse.
"Shouldn't be long now," Auguste decided to give an optimistic answer. "The guards should be doing everything they can and the Lightbringers probably already have someone sent our way."
"B-but..." a female cleric nearby began to say something, "I heard that the Lightbringers' office here was abandoned for some time. They said that everyone working there just disappeared one day."
"Disappeared?" Auguste hadn't heard about that. "When did that happen?"
"About two- no, three weeks ago. That's when I started hearing about it, at least."
Three weeks ago... That was around the time Auguste and the others had arrived. They even went took a trip to the office then. There were still people there at the time. Or was there? After all, the only person they saw was the receptionist. After that, they were busy at the Stone Circle Tombs and by the time they returned, the rumors had probably died down.
"I knew it! No one is coming for us! We're doomed! We're all done for!" the fidgeting cleric shouted hysterically as he rolled up into a ball.
"Does anybody know why they disappeared?" Auguste asked the clergywoman, ignoring the hysterical man.
"No one knows for sure, but it's said that they've been shorthanded for a while, so maybe they all just got transferred. Not much happens around the Iotas region, after all."
Auguste turned towards the barricade, noting the sound of scratching coming from the other side.
"If this is what you call 'not much', then I don't look forward to what counts as an eventful day for you people."
"I mean, before all this happened, of course."
"Hopefully it all goes back to normal soon."
"I would certainly hope so. I don't think Roy here can take much more," she gestured towards the fidgeting cleric.
Despite saying all that though, the trembling of her hands did not go unnoticed by Auguste. It was only natural to be scared. To be all hysterical and rolling into a sobbing ball was also probably normal. The abnormal one here was Auguste, him and one other person here.
"There's nothing to be scared of, Roy, all is within the calculation and all of us are part of the equation, such is the way of Arithmi. There is purpose behind all of this, so fear not. Everything will be just fine. Go take a rest and relax, I'll have someone else take your place."
And what if that purpose was to die? That was something Auguste thought of but knew to not say. If he had said that, he'd only make things worse.
"You too, Auguste. You must be tired after having escorted everyone up here and standing guard. You should have some rest."
"I didn't get everyone," Auguste replied.
"You got everyone you could. We'd have much fewer people here if it weren't for you."
The one speaking to him was the auburn-haired woman with brilliant gold eyes, Doris. From how everyone else responded to her, she seemed to be the one in charge. She was also the one who directed the impromptu 'construction' of the barricade, determining what to be placed first and where, turning the assortment of furniture they had on the second floor into a complicatedly interlocked mess that filled up the midsection of the staircase, a mess that would not be easy to clean up, especially not the barely intelligent Mimics. She made it all happen while Auguste was defending the staircase with the help of a few other clerics, making sure to leave a small space for them to crawl through once the barricade was near completion. The space had since been sealed up, but if there's one point of weakness within the barricade, that should be it. Hopefully, the Mimics do not find it.
"I'm still fine," Auguste insisted. "Why don't you go take a break instead?"
Auguste had watched the woman walked up and down the hall talking to the others, comforting them and reassuring them. She had to be more tired than Auguste who was just standing around.
"In a bit..." Doris paused for a moment, turning her golden eyes towards the end of the hall. "Or at least, I was planning to."
Auguste caught the weight of her words and traced the line of her sight. There, upon the window at the very end of the hall, a shadow could be seen.
"Gather everyone towards the back," said Auguste as he warped a torn curtain around his arm.
"I don't think that's wise," Doris replied.
Before Auguste even had the time to understand her words, another shadow came over them, followed by the sound of cracking. This time, it came from the window before the staircase. Turning towards it, Auguste was met with a bloody face smashing into the glass, cracking further with each hit.
How? Auguste asked in the back of his head. How did they get so high up?
"Into the rooms!" Auguste shouted. "Then block the window and doors!"
But just as he yelled out his orders, a shattering of glass and splintering of wood could be heard coming from one of the rooms. Then, he heard another one down the hall, then another one, and then another. The Mimics have broken through.
End of Chapter 47