A loud noise of rocks crashing down onto the ground reverberated across the cavern . The source of the noise was the destruction of a gargoyle’s body . This sound represented the action of a party invading a dungeon .

“Haaa!”

With a shout, Pram stabbed his sword into the forehead of the remaining gargoyle . The silver blade easily tore through it as if it were paper, destroying the gargoyle’s core . With a deft motion, Pram lightly withdrew his sword from the falling rock .

Surrounding Desir’s party was the rubble of eight gargoyles . These creatures were the most challenging obstacle in the first stage of this dungeon since First-Circle magic didn’t affect them at all . Until their core was destroyed, they would tirelessly attack regardless of their body tearing and breaking . On top of that, they moved at an overwhelming speed . For those that did not have powerful gear equipped, these gargoyles were simply invincible .

Desir’s party had strong enough equipment and strategies to triumph over them . Each member of their power was also powerful enough to take on a gargoyle head-on too . It goes without saying that their battle with the gargoyles ended swiftly, wrapping up completely within an hour .

“Are you alright?”

“Awesome, you’re just awesome . ”

Exclaimed Edwin, the leader of the party that was defeated by the gargoyles prior to Desir arriving . His party was grateful that Desir’s party actually intervened in the battle and saved them .

“Your ability is well-known . I was still surprised to see you defeat these gargoyles so easily though . You’re just awesome . ”

Some of them stepped forward to request handshakes with Desir’s party .

“You lost three of your members to gargoyles?”

Edwin smiled awkwardly .

The situation was now settled . Behind the defeated gargoyles there was a path and a set of stairs leading towards the second stage .

“Why don’t you rest and confirm your party status here first? We’ll start moving onwards in the meantime . ”

Desir suggested .

“Thanks for saving us, but we are not going to proceed to the second stage . ”

Edwin replied .

“How did you get up here?”

“We… skipped . ”

“What?”

“You know all of the traps and monsters… we couldn’t defeat them with our limited ability and gear . This was quite clear to us . Instead, we just ran . Literally . We tried to get as far as we could . We didn’t care about failure, but look at us now . ”

This was the worst strategy . Charging through enemy territory without thinking about any escape routes or backup plans . The sacrifice of team members, one by one, was expected with such a ‘plan’, if you could even really call it such .

“I know it is such a stupid strategy . You can easily tell how we would end up . When one person fails, it’s nearly impossible to form any strategy . But this was our best shot at it . This is all we could do . ”

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A few announcements sounded .

[Korsious Party surrendered]

[Taimu Li failed]

[Urjen Kios failed]

Other Beta Class parties had declared their surrender . None of them could make it through the first stage . They were simply incompetent in the face of this trial .

It was rare for someone to be able to succeed with just effort, especially in the fields of swordsmanship and magic . It was clear that they would not improve and would always be defined by their current status as Beta Class students . It was essentially an inescapable destiny .

Desir was speechless .

“Recently, I thought…”

Edwin choked out as he looked up at Desir .

“That you, Desir, can change all of this nonsense and unfairness . With you, one day, the commoners will not be discriminated against and be able to learn whatever we want to learn . ”

“… Sure . ”

Desir nodded in affirmation as he replied .

“I promise . I’ll change the world and prove this to you . ”

“I trust you all . ”

Edwin then shouted .

“Betherway Party surrenders!”

[Betherway party surrendered]

[Dia Mesis failed]

[…]

The announcement listed all of the remaining members of their party . Their bodies faded and soon disappeared .

“Did you all hear that?”

After the bodies had disappeared Desir turned towards his party members .

“This is why we need to win this thing . ”

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Once again, Desir’s party members were reminded of their goal .

* * *

[Placing third, Desir Arman Party has entered Stage Two]

Of course, Stage Two was a lot more challenging than Stage One . As the paths in this stage were wider, larger scales of attacks and traps were to be expected . The traps were trickier and more sinister while the monsters were harder to defeat .

In comparison to the skeletons and goblins in Stage One, monsters such as packs of Orcs and Great Worms were much tougher to tackle head-on . The difficulty level in this stage was about Level 5 .

“Formation! There is a sign of Great Worms ahead . ”

Desir instructed the party as he sensed movement in the ground .

Even though they had irregular breaks in between continuous battles, Desir’s party members were more serious and more alert than they were before . Instead of giving opportunities to the new members to lead the battles, they were now protecting them in their formation .

Great Worms attack invaders by launching ambushes based on their sense of vibration and heat as they crawl beneath the ground . Their bodies were covered in specially treated metal . It was outstandingly strong but at the same time very smooth, allowing it to rapidly move under the ground .

*Crash*

A Great Worm exploded out of the ground, landing on the surface . Takiran was standing in its trajectory . He quickly rolled his body out of harm’s way before charging at the Great Worm with his sword .

“Aiyaaahh!”

*Tuk*

It didn’t so much as leave a scratch on the giant worm . The sword was not strong enough to penetrate the metal and just bounced off . There was no room to be surprised at this .

“Takiran, back off!”

Desir shouted .

“… Okay!”

*Bang*

Right away, Romantica’s magic streaked through the air . With a huge noise, the Great Worm’s body shook . A small region of its metallic skin cracked and bodily fluid started to leak out of it .

Pram didn’t miss that opportunity . He stabbed his sword into that crack and deftly widened the crack by slicing through it .

*Slice*

In just a moment the worm’s body was cut in half .

“Hiss! Hisssss!”

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The Great Worm wobbled its body abruptly in an attempt to get away from Pram . Black liquid splashed everywhere . The Great Worm noticed that it was facing people it had no chance of defeating . It turned its head around and wriggled its body in an attempt to dig into the ground and escape .

Due to the natural abilities of Great Worms underground, when they manage to escape back into the ground there is typically no way to find them again . Great Worms also tend to form packs . If this Great Worm managed to return to its pack, it would bring its whole family to challenge them again later .

Adjest quickly reacted . She invoked area of effect magic . A sheet of ice covered the area surrounding the worm .

*Boom*

The Great Worm slammed its head against the ice . Fortunately, the ice was dense enough . Actually, it was unimaginably hard . It soon realized that it wouldn’t be able to return to its pack . It instead started slamming its body against the ceiling and walls and eventually charged at Desir’s party .

For a sub-surface dweller, it was surprisingly fast .

The Great Worm opened its mouth wide, revealing thousands of sharp teeth . It crushed everything in its path with this mouth as it charged forward .

“Freechel, stand behind me . ”

“Oh, sure . ”

“Romantica, I’m going to use explosive magic . I need oxygen . ”

The Great Worm approached so loudly that dust snowed down from the ceiling . Desir didn’t panic . He raised his hand calmly towards the worm .

[Explosion]

A massive amount of magic from the Third-Circle spell exploded in the mouth of the Great Worm .

*Boom*

Hot air billowed out along with a huge amount of flame . The Great Worm cooked from the inside out as it suffocated from the hot air that prevented it from breathing . Of course, it was hard for the rest of the party members to breathe also . It was almost suicidal to use explosion magic in a closed area like this, but of course Desir wouldn’t use such a thing without a plan . Romantica cast a spell .

[Refrain Air]

Fresh air blew and helped all of the members to breathe again . The Great Worm twitched its body . More black liquid poured out of its wounds . Takiran and Pram used their swords to steal its last breath .

“Hisss!”

With a short shriek the thrashing of the Great Worm stopped .

“The battle is over . ”

This battle took a long time to finish . Desirs needed to use higher-level magic as well . They couldn’t maintain their pace from Stage One .

However, while traversing through this stage was a bit more complicated, it was still safe and within the capabilities of the party . It was still doable . Achievable . Beatable .

‘But we are still in 3rd place . ’

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Currently, the Red Dragon party was in first place . The Blue Moon party was second .

Desir needed to slightly increase their pace in order to catch up to them .

“We’ll take a 10 minute breather, then we’ll resume . ”

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