-Dungeon Heart’s POV-
The first thing I did was to expand my power through the walls of the place that once was my home. To be honest, my home was never that large to begin with. It consisted of simply three rooms: Kitchen, the forge room, and bedroom. I suppose it would have counted as four rooms if you included the small bathroom that was wedged between the bedroom and the forge room.
Surprisingly it took me an entire day to expand my territory over this place. Even though the entirety of my home couldn’t have been more than 30m x 30m (98.5 feet x 98.5 feet), it still it still required me quite some time to “claim” the area by infusing my mana into the walls, and hence transforming it into a part of me. I suppose you could say that the entirety of the dungeon was a living being. If I had to simplify it, then it you could think of the dungeon core as the brain and soul of the dungeon, while the dungeon itself the body. I suppose that the monsters and traps would be kind of like… an immune system of some sort? I am not sure how I feel about that thought, so I will just put it aside for now.
Rather, I have a lot to do right now. Even though I reclaimed what had been once my room in one day, it still took me another three days to reclaim the one kilometer hallway that led from the forge room all the way to the outside of the mountain. Even though the hallway was narrow, I had to wait for my mana to permeate the walls and turn the area into a part of what is considered my dungeon, and the further away the area is from me, the dungeon heart, the longer it takes to do that. I asked Echo about it and Echo simply said that it was due to mana density.
Apparently, dungeons are like gateways for mana for the world. The dungeon core takes in ether from the earth, and then channels and refine this ether into mana in large quantities. Naturally, this meant that the area with the highest concentration in of mana could be found right next to the dungeon heart, while the lowest concentration would be at the furthest point in the dungeon from the core. Interestingly enough, some of the mana did manage to escape the dungeon through the entrance of the dungeon, which in turn spread mana out into the surroundings of the dungeon, but the concentration was much lower than that even in the first room of the dungeon.
Anyways, the only thing left to takeover was the entrance to my new dungeon. Once that’s complete, I will have the start of my dungeon ready! I must admit, I feel rather excited about this right now. Seconds tick by, turning into minutes, and minutes warp into a full hour before I feel something course through me like a spark of electricity.
|“Congratulations! You have successfully created a basic dungeon lay out! By creating rooms, hallways, and an entrance, you have opened up yourself to the world. For managing to create a dungeon in under a week, the tittle “Eager Creator” has been earned. This tittle decreases the amount of time needed to produce creations by a modest amount. Step1 of 3 complete.”|
I briefly looked at the message and nodded to myself with satisfaction. Now that I had finally claimed the entrance, the hallway, and the rooms that used to be my old home, I felt… good. I felt a satisfied sense of accomplishment, like a warm fuzzy feeling. But even though I had great luck in being able to claim these hallways and rooms instead of creating them (which would have required me to spend about three times more mana than just claiming them), I was currently low on mana. I had a total of 110 (Mana Points), and I had managed to figure out that I can earn naturally about 21 MP per hour. Considering that I had not slept at all while I was claiming these walls, that meant I had spent well over 1800 MP in just claiming things.
I shuddered mentally at the thought. The average sorcerer of mid rank only had between 120 and 160 MP, and it took said sorcerer roughly 12 hours to refill their mana pool. In other words, I was a magical powerhouse.
Now I understand why even small, lesser dungeon cores are worth a small fortune… I thought to myself. If a dungeon core could retain even a fraction of its ability to absorb and channel mana, then it could be a powerful component in any magical tool or artifact.
I heard Echo, and put my thoughts aside for now.
“I recommend creating monsters as soon as possible. Since you have completed the entrance, mana will start to permeate the area around the dungeon, and it will likely attract visitors.”
“Visitors?” I seriously hope she isn’t talking about adventurers right now, I am definitely not ready for that.
“Yes master, the mana will likely attract certain wildlife, and I do not recommend leaving yourself unprotected.”
I let out a sigh of relief at that answer. I had almost forgotten about that. Animals with an affinity for mana will naturally gravitate towards areas of high mana concentration.
“Right.” I grunted towards her mentally. “Let’s get to it then.”
Instinctively, I knew how to create monsters and creatures. To simplify, you weave mana into matter, and the quality of your creation depends heavily on your knowledge of the creature, your own proficiency at manipulating mana, and your own creativity, in addition to the amount of mana you used.
All of this was just fine with me, because I was not called the “craftsman sage” in my previous life just because the name was catchy! I am a first-rate craftsman after all, and the possibility of creating things out of pure mana intrigued me so much that it fired up my spirit as a craftsman!
I reached out with my mind, and willed my mana to condense into a visible mass of mana. I didn’t have much mana to start working with, so I decided to create a few small creations to begin with. I willed the appropriate menu window to open, and looked at the options while holding my mana at the ready.
My eyes wandered to the second option, and briefly opened it more out of curiosity than anything. I hadn’t expected plants to be a part of this menu after all.
|Creation menu: Flora|
|Basic Cave Moss|
…That’s it?! Isn’t that kind of anti-climactic? I was expecting something a bit more… I don’t know… diverse. I grumbled with disappointment at this. This was definitely not nearly as exciting as I had planned… but well, the cost was quite cheap. Ten MP for about a meter squared of moss. I sighed and finally decided I might as well give it a try.
I selected the moss as my first creation, and let myself follow the basic information I had in my mind about the basic cave moss without putting much thought into it. My skill “creation” would take care of it for me while I was just focused on the process. My job is to analyse the process carefully as I carried out my little project, and find ways to improve it.
My mind willed the mana into a dense, matt-like structure, which later was refined into a detailed structure. I could feel my skills set to work and create the fine details of the moss, and finally, the piece of moss solidified into a luscious green bed of moss.
“Well… that was easy.” I said to myself with uncertainty. Admittedly, my skill had taken over and made most of the moss almost automatically, which didn’t quite sit well with me. It felt almost disappointing how easily I had created this simple form of life. On the other hand, I had gained a very interesting insight in the process that was used to create things.
Frowning to myself, I started the process again, this time directly guiding my skill as it worked. I minded the little details, and even decided on making the moss more fluffy in appearance, making it look more appealing. It took me about two-and-a-half times the time it had taken me to craft the moss with the skill, but the result was satisfactory. The moss looked more vibrant and soft, almost as if inviting people to reach out and touch it. Surprisingly, I found that it had cost me eight MP instead of ten. I hypothesise that crafting something yourself reduces the MP cost as opposed to simply letting your skill do it for you.
Satisfied with this, analysis, I smirked to myself and expanded my consciousness over the entirety of the dungeon.
Let’s have some fun. I thought to myself, grinning in my mind as I opened the animal creation list.
Over the next three days, I experimented with the creation number of small animals, since I didn’t want to start creating Kobolds without having proper mastery over more simple creatures. Besides, a single Kobold was worth 100 MP, so I couldn’t create them willy-nilly. Any reduction to the cost was highly welcomed.
I had started with simple insects, such as flies, small spiders, and other small, harmless bugs. I changed their color, their size, their carapace, and altered individual body parts like the mandibles or legs. Once I had become satisfied with the insects, I moved on to small mammals, which were limited at the moment to simply common brown mice.
The mice were fun to play with, specially because I discovered that I could influence my creations more than I thought I could. Funny story about that really. The insects I had left alone started to eat the moss and they began to multiply, and the mice started to eat the insects. I was worried that my dungeon would become overrun by mice, and so I tried to do something about it. Thanks to my sudden moment of inspiration, I discovered that I could further modify mice to even control the rate at which they reproduce! It was a fascinating discovery.
However, when I mentioned it to Echo…
“Master, the only reason why your creations are acting like this, is because you haven’t given them any orders, so they are just functioning based on instinct.”
“Orders?” I asked, “And what do you mean acting like ‘that’? Don’t all animals have to eat and reproduce? Why do you think I decided on my first species to be animals? I need them to create the base of a food chain!”
It was then that I felt confusion in Echo.
Oh no… I could sense that she was going to say something that may bring down my logic.
“Master, you didn’t need to do that? Dungeon creations are perfectly capable of surviving on just the mana that exists in your dungeon.”
I felt my heart break a little at those words. My carefully laid out plan…was it all for nothing then? Could I have chosen a much more powerful option, such as elemental spirits or constructs?
It was at that moment that my thoughts were interrupted by a window that popped into existence.
|“Congratulations! For creating a basic ecosystem where your creations fight for survival, you have met the special requirements for the secret tittle “Guide of the Bloody Evolution”! Tittle increases growth rate of living creations in your dungeon, allowing a faster natural evolution!”|
I cheered to myself and smugly showed Echo the notification windows that had appeared for me.
“See? It was not pointless.” I am not sure if I was speaking to her or to myself when I said that, but it made me feel better at the time so who cares right?
Anyways, I was pretty happy about the tittle. According to Echo, evolving creatures usually is a lengthy process, since the creature must survive long enough to accumulate enough experience and power to evolve, let alone to evolve into a variant which requires special criteria to be met. Anything that speeds that up is very welcome indeed.
It was another four days since I received the notification about my evolution tittle before I was confident enough to start creating Kobolds. By this time, I had already experimented to my heart’s content with the mice, to the point I even managed to create a variant called “Black dungeon mouse” which, as the name suggests, is a black mouse whose body is about 30cm (1 foot) long, and the tail is another 30cm long. It’s not very threatening on its own, but it is quite a decent hunter if I do say so myself. A single black dungeon mouse is capable of beating back five brown mice on its own. I made this little guy able to prey on the smaller brown mice too, just to help keep their numbers down.
Anyways! Back to the important stuff, today I am building my first Kobolds! Hurrah!
Thanks to the mice being so cheap (only 15 MP per brown mouse), I managed to save up quite a bit of MP. In addition, every time someone or something dies in my dungeon, I can absorb most of them back. I figure I am getting a good 99% of the energy imputed into a creature back into my system when I absorb them, with the last 1% of the energy going into whatever other creature killed it.
So, monsters can also act like batteries for me! While the rate at which I gain mana is fixed, the fact that I can ‘store’ mana in a creature without letting it dissipate is great! Thanks to this, I have managed to save up about 1100 MP, which means that I have plenty of mana to start creating Kobolds.
I mentally steady myself, and prepare to create my first Kobold. I still my mind and think about all the information I have stored in my mind about Kobolds. Short creatures, about 150 cm in height for females, 155 cm for males in average. Mostly reptilian in appearance, like a lizard that walks on its hind legs… except that its legs are longer, and the arms more human like. It walks kind of hunched over, much like an ape trying to imitate the walk of a human. They have scales that are tougher than skin, but not very hard, which offers them some basic protection. Their teeth are short but sharp, defining them as mainly carnivores.
I take a deep breath (mentally), and nod to myself. Okay that was a good summary. Let’s get to it!
I focus my mana, and start crafting the first Kobold. Carefully, gently, slowly, I move my mana in sync with my inherent skills, guiding it, slowing down the process enough to press into the detail of my creation. I imagine the scales, perfectly aligned, fitting next to each other flawlessly, and the teeth, pearly white and well aligned. Perfect. The eyes would be a honey colour too, and let’s make his scales a deep forest green.
As I worked I didn’t notice that hours slipped by, and I barely noticed that I added a bit of extra mana here and there, making sure that everything was working well. After what was probably three hours of non-stop concentration, I finally finished. The kobold was created.
The creature took a deep shuddering breath and looked around confused for a moment, before laying eyes on me. It’s eyes open wide, and it emitted a shuddering hiss before dropping to its knees before me, clearly submitting himself to my will. I looked at him, felt truly satisfied. For the standards of a lizard man, this specimen was beautiful. Scales perfectly wrapping around him, a strong and thick tail, not a single blemish on his forest green hide, no crooked teeth, no dull eyes… yes, I was pleased.
Checking on my MP, I noticed I had used up exactly 110MP. If I had to guess, he is more expensive even though I created him by hand probably because I tampered with his creation a bit too much, and increased his cost that way. Oh well, it was worth it!
I create three more Kobolds, two female and one more male. They are all gorgeous specimens of their race, and I feel quite proud of my creations, despite the fact that I spent about nine hours total creating all of them. Thankfully, the other three went by faster since I used my first Kobold as a template for the rest of them.
|“Congratulations! You have created enough creatures in your dungeon to complete the second step of your dungeon set up! Step 2 of 3 complete.”|
Once again a window has appeared! It appears that I am one step closer to completing this dungeon now… well… at least complete enough that I won’t be completely defenseless.
|“Congratulations! Now you have entered the final step, available only to those dungeons that have advanced self-awareness. Please select your name.”|
For a second I was surprised by the question. I was about to reply with Mak’rit before I thought the better of it. Perhaps it was not such a good idea to name a dungeon heart with the name of the most famous blacksmith and craftsman in the last thousand years.
I thought about it for a moment, before I settled for an old nickname that felt appropriate.
“Smit. My name is Smit.”
The window popped out of existence from my mind, but I felt a sudden happiness now, like a wave of warm water bathing his soul. His name. He had a name now.
|“Acknowledged. Dungeon of Smit accepted. Welcome to the world as a fully-fledged dungeon!”|
Smirking to myself mentally, I looked around, and realized that all the creatures in the dungeon were looking at me, kneeling as if in reverence. I basked in my accomplishment for a minute, before coming back to the real world. I didn’t have much time to relax after all, it was a small miracle that I hadn’t had anything come into my dungeon yet. By now someone or something must have detected the mana fluctuations that are coming from my dungeon.
I frowned at that thought. I should start stepping things up now that I have the basics covered. Looking around, I figure that this main room is fine enough for now. I will leave what used to be my forge room and my bedroom as they are, and turn them into my main chamber. But I can’t create much more with just these few rooms and a long hallway. Any experienced adventurer will crush me at the moment if they decide to investigate this place seriously.
With this in mind, I nodded to myself and set myself a list of things to do.
It was time to expand.
|Species: True Dungeon|
|Name: Smit||Age: 34 days|
|Mana: 760 MP||Anima: 15|
|Floors: 1||Inhabitants: 13 Species|
|Titles: Eager Creator; Guide of the Bloody Evolution; Legendary Craftsman; Reincarnated One|
|Abilities: Absorb matter; Alter environment; Break down components; Craftsmanship; Creation; Digging; Destroy creation; Enhancement; Equivalent exchange; Ether manipulation; Evolution; Interdimensional Storage; Life bestowal; Life-energy harnessing; Mana absorption; Masterful mana manipulation; Modification of creations; Monster Link; Telepathy; Trap building; Transfer dungeon|
|Resistances: Magic (general); Mind control|