Smit hummed mentally as he worked, his mind sending a subconscious echo across the entirety of the dungeon. It was the deep reverberations of the voice of the earth itself as he worked, lulling the population of his dungeon into a gentle sway that spoke to them of home.
As he hummed his song, smit carefully set up the mechanism for triggering the traps from the pillars of stone. The work was delicate and required time to set up, though in truth it did not require too much mana to set up. As a craftsman of considerable age, he had the skills needed to set up the internal mechanism for these traps. It was a simple mechanism really. The floor was turned from solid stone into tiled stone. Some of the tiles were turned into trigger traps, which would trigger whenever enough weight pressed on them. The weight would sink the tile, which would trigger an internal mechanism (some of which acted like switches, others contained levers or ropes). The trigger would then induce mechanical motion that would activate the trap of the pillar.
Truth be told, the system was simple in majority. Most traps contained thrown darts, arrows, or knives from the pillars. A couple of the more nasty traps included being sprayed with needles coated with poison from the insects grown in the dungeon, or the exploding pillar, which would detonate the entire pillar like a grenade. The exploding pillar was particularly vicious, as the sound alone could rupture eardrums, not to mention that the chunks of stone flew out fast enough to penetrate bronze armour with little trouble. It was probably the most deadly of all the pillar traps, which is why he had limited the number of exploding pillars to only a few.
Let there be the steel animal
Let the forge be the jungle it wants
Let the hammer forge the clavicle
The guard for the wielder’s hands
Words consolidated into the minds of everyone in the dungeon as Smit lost himself in his work, singing an old song he had sung last long ago. The mana of the dungeon seemed to pulse at the rhythm of his song, the words causing the mana that permeated the air to thump slightly, like a drum in the distance.
The hammer of creation is swung
In hot flames, the metal obeyed
Metal meets metal, the sparks sprung
Unveiling the formation of the blade
Simple words paint a picture of his younger days, as the apprentice surpassed the master. Images of a short, bearded man flash through the minds of the more intelligent species of the dungeon. Snippets of a memory more ancient than any of their young minds could dare to imagine. Arms as thick as logs, rippling with enough muscle to crush stone. Rugged hands that seemed powerful enough to bend steel. And a pair of deep green eyes that bore into his work with an intensity that dwelled in the realm of obsession.
They knew that this had once been their king, at a time before their personal god became what he was now.
Strike, strike, and strike again
Between the anvil and the hammer
The creation of steel and men
The naked blade of metallic glamour
An image consolidates in the minds of Smit creations. A hammer beats down on a blade that shines red and yellow, sparks fly as if he was smiting a star rather than a crafting a blade. Sweat trickles down his eyes, slowly steaming out of existence before the heat of the forge. Muscles bulge as they flex and explode into action with every swing of the hammer.
The blacksmith grins as he lifts the sword from the anvil, and dunks it into chilled water, rising a cloud of steam. And just as fast the image came to mind it vanished, leaving behind nothing but the memory of its passing.
Oblivious to all of this, Smit simply sighs contentedly as he finishes the last of the engineering for the last pillar, nodding with satisfaction at his work. It felt good to complete a job properly, a job well done brought its own rewards.
He had spent grand total of ten days crafting his pillars lovingly, each mechanism tested time and time again at the sacrifice of several wolves. But eventually, the mechanisms were perfected, and the appearance of the pillars had been retained in the majority as to not easily giveaway the type of trap to the enemy.
Leaving the pillars stand on their own proudly, he gave them a once over examination, carefully assessing how they looked. Aesthetics was paramount for his dungeon. He would not be living in anything but the best, and that was not negotiable. Whatever he crafted would be of high quality. Even a mere pillar had to be properly polished and refined.
Finding nothing to displease him, he assessed the situation to be satisfactory, and perhaps even a bit shocking to anyone unread in art. The pillars varied in width between the width of a man to twice that, scattered at seemingly random, but with an oddly pleasing fashion, giving the sense that there was a hidden pattern. The white walls only served to make the pillars stand out more, and acted like a canvas, while his pillars were the paint.
Now it was time for the finishing touch in this room: The Dungeon Law.
He pulled at the mana in the environment, and infused it with his own mana. Willing the mana to swirl around the room, it gathered and it began to create a lining over the room.
“Warning! To use dungeon law, you must verbalize the law you wish to create. Various effects can be achieved through intonation and modulation of emotions and speech.”
Smit almost faltered as he gathered mana as he received this information, but managed to keep hold of the mana as he digested these news. He recalled that this warning had appeared last time, but he had supressed the notification and ignored the information. Now that he thought about it properly, the notification gave him pause. Saying what he wanted would be easy, but... from the sound of it, the same Dungeon Law could have a range of effectiveness, and even variations in power and other effects based on how one stated the dungeon law.
If it talks about speech and emotions… Is that not just singing? Smit thought to himself, considering how obvious this seemed… but then again, how many dungeon cores knew how to sing? How many knew how to manifest their emotions? Perhaps it was obvious only to him, but other dungeons would have to figure it out the hard way.
Oh well… Not my problem. He chuckled at that thought, and proceeded to finish up gathering the mana necessary for the law, letting it coat the entire hallway and its pillars. He held the mana in place and began to mull over the wording he would use for this law. As it was only his second dungeon law, he should not make it too complicated. Probably it would be best if he could summarize it with a single thought.
And do I ever have the right word. Smit grinned internally as he solidified a single word into his mind.
He wanted every single pillar, and every single trap to be reset soon after a group of adventurers made their way through. That would be ideal, as it would serve two purposes. First it would be ready in case more adventurers came back to challenge his dungeon, as he had no doubt that more than one adventurer group would show up from time to time. Second, it would keep the room looking nice and tidy, which was of outmost importance.
Having decided on the proper focus of his Dungeon Law, Smit set himself to work. His deep voice started to hum out lout, emanating through the entire second floor of the dungeon. A deep hum seemed to hail from the very walls of the dungeon, making the entire floor vibrate with power as the mana that covered every surface stirred.
“Traps of stone
Dead turned to bone
Consume the broken
The room is awoken
Reset the stone
Mend what’s blown
Fixed the room
Absorb the fumes
In an instant, the entire room seemed to dim, as if the light from the new torches was absorbed by every surface for just a moment. The mana that permeated everything seemed to sink into every object in the room, as if it was water drank by the sad of a desert. It all lasted only a brief moment, before the room settled back into its original appearance.
An eerie silence seemed to settle over the room for an instant, before Smit grinned. He could feel the power from every surface in this room. Every single pillar and wall was marked by the power of his skill. It was a costly experiment, but one that he would gladly do again for the future benefit he could reap from it.
|“Congratulations! New tittle earned [Creator of Dungeon laws]. Title has been awarded for successfully creating a fairly complex Dungeon Law through advanced voice manipulation techniques.”|
Blinking at his new title, Smit snorted in amusement, barely keeping himself from laughing out loud.
Advanced voice manipulation techniques my ass. He chuckled, All I did was make a up a little song. I suppose that my guess was right. Normally dungeons wouldn’t ever think about singing.
Satisfied with his experiment, he moved his consciousness away from the pillars and began to focus on the next order of business: The pond.
As a result of his desire to create a more realistic body of water, Smit had increased the kobold population of his dungeon to a grand total of seventeen members of the kobold race, including the chief. He could feel them approaching the dungeon, coming to him with the latest fruits of their foraging and gathering.
Of the sixteen new kobolds, Smit had created four of them as warrior kobolds, four as mages, and eight regular kobolds. While it might have improved his war potential to have created more warriors or mages, Smit speculated that there were more evolutions to be obtained from a simple kobold other than the three initially discovered.
Most importantly, he hopped to trigger an evolution that would be related to a craftsman class, or at least an evolution with enough intelligence and dexterity to start to learn some crafting skills. The dream of creating a perfect apprentice still swam in his mind, floating in the depths of his thoughts. The only problem was that he feared modifying the kobolds too much, thus wasting valuable time and mana to modify a kobold, only to discover that his creation was worthless.
As such, he had decided it would be best to take a slower but steadier approach. In his dungeon, he could trigger evolutions in his own creatures without having to completely redesign them himself. Though that was a significantly slower process, it could be sped up to an extent if he slowly modified his creations overtime as they grew and gathered experience. Ideally, this would allow him to somewhat guide the path of evolution that a creature took rather than leave it up to chance, or whatever unknown rules of evolution monsters followed.
He had tried to explain this vein of thought to Echo, who had simply asked why he did not just create them as he wished, as he had done with her body. His reply of course, had been blunt and short.
“I am craftsman. I know blacksmithing, I know gadgets, I know stone, wood, and clay. But I am not a physician. How would I know how to modify a living being?”
That was far outside the realm of his knowledge. He knew how to create golems and automata, but they were worlds apart from a true living thing. He would leave the extreme modifications on living beings alone for now. As it was, he killed dozens upon dozens of spiders to create a single functional two-headed spider who, aside from looking significantly more scary, was not particularly much more dangerous than its cousins who were the same size. All in all, his two-headed spider was a not a failure but not a success either. It simply was a different species of spider that was marginally more dangerous than the others in his cave.
He couldn’t imagine trying to manipulate kobolds to that extent, and specially not to something so detailed as a kobold who had high intelligence and high dexterity. Sure, he could do general changes. Stronger, faster, taller… those were general changes that he could manage, and even then, he had a limit. Perhaps he could even give them two tails with some experimentation, but that was the extent of his power right now. He could not even imagine how much reworking and experimenting he would need to manipulate something as delicate and elusive as natural dexterity, let alone mental abilities.
Sighing at these thoughts, he lamented his lack of knowledge in the field of biology. In in the massive lifespan of his previous life, encompassing centuries of experience, he had never gone through the trouble of reading a single book of biology of any species. Hailed as a genius of the crafts, he had laboured to memorize entire encyclopaedias about construction, blacksmithing, engineering, and even leatherworking. He had even studied blueprints for an untold number of gadgets, and trained in the fields of masonry, mining, blacksmithing, weapon development, and woodwork… but never had he even thought about studying the art of medicine.
Enough of that. He grunted to himself mentally, focusing on the task at hand. Let us see what the Kobolds brought this time.
He didn’t need to wait long as the seventeen kobolds entered the dungeon, panting with exertion as they carried entire buckets filled with fish and plants. Smit grinned to himself as he watched the kobolds make their way into the first room of his dungeon, setting down those heavy buckets. In them he could see a variety of fish and plants, ranging from simple water grasses to algae for plants, and from little guppies to small salmon fish.
He wished that he could have given his kobolds better tools to carry more weight, but as it was, even a wheelbarrow would be ineffective with all the trees and rocks in the way. There were no roads to speak of this deep in the mountain, nor was there an easy path to his dungeon. Any transport that he could have provided was effectively rendered more of a pain than an actual useful tool, and hence Smit was forced to provide his troops with only buckets.
Still, all things considered, the kobolds had done a terrific job gathering this many samples without killing them. Sure, it had taken them a while to accomplish, but it was more than he had hoped they would achieve.
“Good job lads.” Smit said jovially, “Now, go ahead and eat all the fish. Since they are here and alive, as long as they die in the dungeon I should be able to absorb the information on them. As for the plants, they are already dying. You can eat them or dump them on the floor, I have no use for them as they are now.”
Following his instructions, seventeen kobolds proceeded to devour the fish they had carried, consuming them bones and all. Some of the algae were devoured too, though other species of plant were simply thrown out and stomped into a paste.
Soon, several windows of information appeared before Smit, flooding his field of view as a multitude of fish and plants came up in blue windows. As always, he obtained an automatic understanding of how to bring into being the creatures in question, understanding them but yet not comprehending the information. It was an odd sensation, similar to knowing how to breathe, but not understanding the process.
Pushing such thoughts out of mind, Smit gave his kobolds leave to rest and recover, allowing them to be free to hunt in the dungeon.
For now, he had nothing more for them to do, and he himself had plenty of work to do. His goal was to finish this second floor with as much haste as possible, and begin working on the next project with haste. Though he had significantly increased the size of his dungeon since the adventurers showed up, he had no doubt that they would be back, with friends next time. Once the Adventurer’s guild confirmed that a useful dungeon had appeared, there would be little doubt that a settlement would be built near the dungeon, and an adventurer’s guild branch would be set up.
After that, as per the laws of the kingdom, the dungeon would often be exploited to train both adventurers and soldiers, and used to gather resources. Given that dungeons acted as giant mana producing pumps, a variety of alchemists and magic users would also flood to the settlement, increasing the amount of people and possibly giving rise to a town which might grow into a city in the future.
In other words, it was only a matter of time until people began to flood his dungeon, and he had no doubt some of those people would be less than honest. As his popularity increased, so did the possibility of him being target while he was weak. Hence, his best hope was to become strong while he still could, setting up as many defences and protective layers between himself and any future enemy as possible.
Smit grinned at the challenge, revelling in it with as much intensity as despised it. On one hand, he would have to deal with all sorts of unsavoury characters in the future. But on the other hand, he would be able to put himself and his creations to the test.
And there were very few things that Smit preferred to a challenge.
Humming, he set himself to work again, ignoring kobolds who had hurried down the halls of his dungeon to hunt for food.
Echo had spent her days training constantly, spending hours upon hours on a daily basis trying to master the control of her body. Her issue with simple balance had been resolved, as she could now walk and even jog without tripping easily. However, Smit had asserted that that could only be considered a standard level of balance at best. Most people without disabilities should be able to manage to do that much by the time they were children, and thus she still had ways to go. With that in mind, her greatest challenge was improving her dexterity. This was particularly vexing, for echo, as it was much more difficult to do fine movements that required precision than large movements that one could do mindlessly.
Tasks such as writing, for instance, were arduous tasks that required rigorous concentration to get right for her. Of course, considering that most golems could barely do more than close and open their hands around a weapon this signified that Echo was leagues ahead of them, she was still far behind a practiced human, not to mention a dwarf.
Today, she had been practicing her balance, going through a few of the simple motions she had seen the kobolds use to pierce with her halberd. Though her body sensed the weight of weapon, she found it extremely difficult to control her weapon even to the extent of a common kobold. Once again, Echo was awed at the amount of physical control that organic lifeforms had. In a simple forward thrust with her halberd, there were number of things that were integrated into it. She was required to step forwards while rotating her torso, shift her weight, move her arms, strengthen her wrists, angle the strike, and she had to keep her balance on top of that.
Worse, she had to be able to do this in seconds to have a chance in a battle. She had to be able to deliver a killing blow faster than someone could finish saying “watch out!” to be effective.
As of yet she had yet to master the secrets of balance of dexterity, but she had managed to speed up the movement to only taking a few minutes per thrust. It was excruciatingly boring to watch her attempt to replicated a single movement for hours on end, but progress was starting to show in Echo. She walked straighter, more gracefully, her attacks were sharper, less weak, carrying some weight that seemed to have been absent in her early days of practice.
However, a noise entered her mind, and she faltered for a moment. It was a deep hum that originated from the dungeon itself. Looking back at the heart of her father, she could see it glow, pulsating gently to the sound of the humming.
Instinctively she knew what was going on. It was her father, the creator, who was causing this sound. It was his voice, the one who was altering the dungeon so, causing the very energy that permeated the entire dungeon to sway back and forth to the power of his voice. The sound was deep and invigorating, soothing but entrancing. She had heard insect chirp, wolves howl, and birds chirp, but this? This was different. It was the voice of an artist as he painted a whole new world.
Echo could not help but to stop completely and just stand listening in awe. She was sure she was not alone in this. Any creature in the dungeon would likely stop and listen to the voice of the father.
Her body seemed to resonate with his voice, swaying to the musical tune. Slowly, gently, her body instinctively sought out the music, as if trying to do it justice with a visual representation of the emotions it stirred within her.
Step, step, turn, dip of the waist, rise, retrace the steps.
Simple combinations of movements were created, and balance was reached between the forms. Each movement was rough, unpolished, but the movement was steady and unrushed. It felt natural and real. It made her feel… alive.
Echo’s heart sang with joy as she thanked Smit in her heart for allowing her to discover this… dance. She moved, slowly but surely, allowing her body to take her through the motions without thought. It felt more liberating than anything she had ever experienced before. She had no need to worry and no reason to hesitate, not as long as the music guided her steps.
But then it all changed when humming turned to words. Smit’s verses reverberated through the minds over every being in the floor, and even her dance was forced to stop as the music took her breath away. She corrected herself from her previous thoughts.
This wasn’t the voice of a master artist.
This was the voice of a veritable god as he shared the joy of creating a whole new world.
Too soon the song ended, and Echo found herself wavering on the spot struggling to stay upright as she taken in by a wave of emotions. She who was new to the whole idea of emotions and freedom of thought, found herself drowning in a sea of relief and happiness.
She turned towards the core of Smit, and got on her knees. She clasped her hands before her, and bowed her head.
And she prayed.
It was a simple prayer that consisted of two words.
|Species: True Dungeon|
|Name: Smit||Age: 2 months|
|Mana: 26743 MP||Anima: 40|
|Mana Reg.: 200 MP/h||Anima Reg.: 5 AP/day|
|Floors: 2||Inhabitants: 51 Species|
|Titles: Creator of Dungeon laws; Creator; Guide of the Bloody Evolution; Legendary Craftsman; Reincarnated One;|
|Abilities: Absorb matter; Alter environment; Bestow Knowledge; Break down components; Craftsmanship; Creation; Digging; Destroy creation; Dungeon Laws; 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|