Slow breaths emit from my nose as I regulate my breath, my…. Instincts are guiding me in my hunt. The father has entrusted my clan with the search for new specimens as he continues to create our home, or as he calls it, the “Dungeon.” After witnessing father’s work, I am in awe of his power. He can will the very earth to shift at his will, he can carve items of untold beauty with his mind, he can bring to life the air with his voice, and he can will life into existence with a thought. He is as close as you could get to a god without being labeled as one in your species.
A rustle of leaves in a bush catches my attention from the other bank of the river. I can practically taste the tension build up inside my brethren as a large animal makes its way out of the leaves. The creature is large, maybe twice the height of father’s wolves, and by the looks of the creature, it was many times heavier too. This creature is one that we have not taken to father yet, but it looks formidable. The animal is clearly powerful, judging by the way it carries itself. Father will be pleased.
I signal to my brothers and sisters with hiss, and we all rise from the bushes as one. It has been many cycles of light since the enemy that slayed me left the dungeon, and every day has been spent hunting and training, refining myself with the spear that was given to me by father. My brethren too have spent many cycles working to develop their skills, and today we see the fruit of our labour.
Seventeen spears soar through the air, arching through the air as they hit the lumbering creature on the other side of the river. Half of the spears miss completely, and of the other half, several hit the limbs of the beast. However, our control is lacking. Three hit the back of the beast, impaling themselves on the thick fur. My spear imbed itself in the spine of the beast, close to the tail hips. It’s a mighty fine throw if I do say so myself, but unfortunately, it seems to have been lacking.
The creature roars in frustration, its deep howls of pain and anger alert us that the fight is not over. We approach the river and swim across the moving waters, eyes fixated on the creature as it bleeds, its legs too injured to flee properly.
It seems that the creature can not move properly, seeing as it merely watches us and trembles as we slowly surround it. I start approaching it slowly, and it seems to turn towards me painfully slowly, its back legs quivering before they give out. I tilt my head as I watch it pant, curious at this. I approach a little more and the animal roars pitifully as it tries to take a swipe at my body, which is easily dodged. The creature, in its current state, is slow and weak, the time we spent crossing the river had taken a toll on the creature as it dealt with both pain and blood loss.
“We wait.” I called out to my brethren. “Shamans. Use water. Suffocate him.”
It was a simple command but all I could manage to make my brethren understand. They are learning the mysteries speech still, as am I. Though I seem to have progressed more than they have. I understand more at least.
The command is effective, and the shamans labour to control a large ball of water, and ram it at the creature, holding the water on its head as it tries to shake it off for a minute. However, soon the animal stops moving and slowly collapses to the ground. The shamans sigh with relief, panting lightly. Holding a large ball of water in the air for any period of time is harder than just launching it, especially if they try to maintain it on something that resists like this animal.
We approach the animal and tie it up, leaving all the weapons that pierced its hide stuck upon the creature. Father had already explained that removing a weapon from a body would create an “open wound” which would cause the wound to bleed more than if you left the weapon stuck to the body.
Considering we had to travel all way back to the dungeon without letting the animal die, we needed to refrain from letting it bleed too much. Otherwise we would have to find another animal like it and try again so it could die in father’s dungeon for him to comprehend the animal and recreate it. Thus, keeping the animal alive is an absolute necessity for our mission.
About half of my brethren are appointed to carry the hulking beast, dragging it on a sled made of wood and ropes, while the rest of them gather the weapons that did not strike the beast, and carry them. Three kobolds including myself are in charge of defending the rest of the group for now, and we take turns dragging the wounded animal to the dungeon. Thankfully, the creature was found uphill of the dungeon, so we are not forced to carry the creature uphill the entire journey.
Grunting can be heard as we drag our price home, but there is not a word of complain to be heard amongst the heavy breathing or grunts. Rather, there is an excitement in the air that seems to be floating about. We are all eager to return home after our longest excursion yet, two full days out in the open, away from home. We are all eager to return to the father, and show him the fruits of our labour. Moreover, we are all curious what the father has created in our absence. Who knows what wonders he has crafted in this expanse of time.
Excitement wells up in me at the thought of this, and I begin to hum. I can’t do it like father can, not with the same depth, meaning, or power. But I suppose that is to be expected, as no one can be like father. Father is in a league of his own after all.
-Adder Konstanti POV-
I sit with my team through another meeting with the guild master Ikfes, my mind wandering off somewhere into the distance as Ella and the rest of the people present focus on the conversation. It has been close to twenty days since we exited the unknown dungeon, and it has been quite close to a week and a half since we got back to the city. Unfortunately, we have had several meetings due to the nature of the dungeon. Today is the third meeting, something that is highly unusual.
“…you are saying that the dungeon has developed to this extent?” Ikfes asks, my mind barely registering the words as they left the mouth of the speaker and found their way to my ears.
“Yes sir.” Ella replies, watching the guild master and the advisors beside him. “The dungeon has expanded far beyond the scope of a recently born dungeon, completing an extensive first floor. By the looks of things, it should be ready to start creating a second floor. Usually, a new born dungeon would require a year to do this, and this one seems to be not yet even a third of that, as we mentioned in the report.”
“This is quite the unexpected development.” A man with a red goatee beard speaks, folding his arms behind his back. If memory serves me right, this is Alester Griff, a representative for the king himself.
No shit. I retort to him mentally. If he is shocked to simply hear of that issue, imagine how surprised we were when we had to go through this blind. We are a not a squad of greenhorns, the fact that a new dungeon gave us this much trouble is a testament to how powerful this dungeon can become.
“I concur.” Ikfes nodded, humming in thought. “This could be a phantom or heroic level dungeon in the making. This could be a great boon for our country.”
It would be for any country really. Any dungeon of phantom rank or higher is considered very valuable. Typically, dungeons of higher ranks have a number of benefits, turning it into a large exploitable resource that could provide a number of things, from raw materials to processed items. A higher rank did not only mean a higher difficulty for the dungeon, it also meant higher rewards were awarded.
“As you all may know,” Alester spoke up, “ Our country is on the small side of the scale when it comes to size, and it contains merely five dungeons in total, of which only one is phantom level, and none are above that level. If this dungeon has a chance at growing to be a phantom level dungeon, then it is a resource that must be carefully monitored.”
“Naturally.” Ikfes replied. “A resource of this magnitude would surely be a boon to the kingdom. I assume that there will be moves by the king to expand the village that already exists near the dungeon?”
“But of course.” Alester replied, fixing up his collar before looking back at Ikfes. “The expenses of the initial exploration will also be covered by the crown as per usual, plus additional compensation for the mapping of the first floor and the discovery of a higher tier dungeon. The man who reported the dungeon will also be adequately compensated.”
“Good, good.” Ikfes said with a nod, “I request permission for the adventurers guild to set a branch in the village by the dungeon. If this dungeon is going to elevate itself to phantom status, I want to be ready.”
“Request approved.” Alester nodded. “I will ask that you refrain from sending anything beyond a B level team to oversee the situation. We do not need to stir up rumors or to attack the dungeon too earnestly at the moment, or else we might weaken it.”
“Naturally.” Ikfes acknowledges smoothly, “I will ready the area then. Tell his majesty that we will start gathering budding talents to send to this new dungeon.”
The guild master and the representative shook hands, and exchanged a short goodbye, before the representative left. It was baffling. Usually any dealings with the crown had a shroud of politics that floated about, with subtle shifts in power. This, however, was not that in the slightest. It was quick, and spartanly short, as if the discussion had been hacked down to the bare minimum without being rude.
Most curious indeed.
Questioning back end politics would have to wait though, considering we all needed to rise out of respect to the king’s representative. I hate all the manners and decorum and that go with it when you are meeting someone of status, but it is a necessity. Especially when it comes to royalty, they can be quite finicky about how they are treated. On that note however, nothing is worse than noblemen when it comes to saving face and vengeance. Entire wars have been waged between nobles for simply being denied saving some face.
Worthless rats with wigs the lot of them.
“Adder.” Ella’s voice brings me back to earth from my own thoughts.
“Yes?” I reply nonchalantly, knowing that the she knows that I was completely distracted. It’s fine though, it isn’t like I was expected to say much through the entire conversation, but Ella can be quite stern about all of this meeting your superior’s business.
Ella looks at me with a well-practiced disapproving stare.
“Focus. The guild master asked a question.”
“Right. What was the question?”
Ella looked like she wanted to strangle me, and it almost made me smirk in amusement. Almost.
Ikfes chuckles at my response, and stroking his short full beard. His amber eyes see to glint with amusement, but yet I feel as if they are staring through me. He gives me the chills sometimes, those eyes of his seem to stare through everything. Though that is supposed to be expected, you don’t get to be an S rank adventurer without obtaining some sort of exceptional aura about you.
“I asked if you noted anything more about the dungeon, other than what was written in the reports.” Ikfes repeated, “More specifically, if there was anything that was unusually out of the ordinary. Dungeons can develop in mysterious ways, and the early stages of the dungeon can reveal a lot about their future. Any little oddity could prove significant.”
“How would I know?” I ask dismissively. I really don’t want to have an interrogation session right now. Please just ask someone else.
“Adder.” The tone in his voice goes for mildly amused to deathly serious, and a cold chill runs up the length of my spine, zapping me into an alerted state. By the looks of things, I am not the only one feeling this, because everyone in the room is standing ramrod straight now.
“Alright, alright boss. Sorry about that.” I chuckle out nervously. The odd thing about Ikfes was that his face looked like he was in his late fifties, but he stood at an impressive 185 cm in height and had a body like a thirty-year-old soldier. It threw me off at first, coming off as almost comical, but when he puts this sort of pressure on you, its anything but comical. He looks downright scary in a nonthreatening way, if that is even possible.
Sigh. This sucks.
“Right. Weird, out of place, etcetera.” I mumble out as I start to think.
What would you consider out of place in a dungeon like that? Half of it was out of place to begin with. Statues everywhere, traps inside traps, water stones, and let’s not even talk about the golem. That was a thing of beauty.
“Well there wasn’t anything that was really more out of place than the quick growth of the dungeon or the statues all over the damn place, well except for the blue golem beauty.”
“Blue?” Ikfes asks with confusion.
“Yeah blue. It’s made of some sort of blue stone. It was really hard too, as you heard, it deflected my knives without a single scratch.”
“That is… outstanding.” Ikfes said with mouth agape, staring directly at me.
“…What? How is that outstanding?” Is the old man finally going senile or what?
“You fool!” Ikfes roared as he threw his hands in the air, startling everyone in the room. “Do you not see? Quickly, tell me what you know about golems.”
“Um…” I hesitate for a moment as I try to figure what the old man is going on about. “Golems are constructs that function entirely based on the material they are made of and magic that they were created with.”
“Yes and?” Ikfes urged me on.
“Um… unlike automata, which have mechanical parts to them and can carry out more complex movements, golems are usually more… simple?” I think that’s right. Golems normally are made of common rock or wood, so they don’t really have much in the way of joints or ligaments, which in turn means that they can’t handle certain tasks, such as writing or fencing. They are more about raw power and endurance than about anything else. Automata on the other hand, are more delicate due to the number of moving parts inside them, but this gives them outstanding dexterity and finesse.
“Yes and no.” Ikfes said impatiently, waving his hand dismissively, “Both constructs and golems are technologically fairly advanced, and capable of doing almost the exact same thing… in theory. Of course, due to the fact that golems are made without many moving parts, more often than not just a giant lump of material that moves by the power of magic, golems are usually what we would consider tanks, which soak up damage and can dispense high amounts of damage. Conversely, automata are typically able to be more graceful and dextrous. It is like comparing a tiger to an elephant in that sense.”
The guild master paused for a second after confirming my knowledge, before resuming his explanation. “However, think boy, think. Golems are usually crude creations, made of whatever simple material is available. In the case of the golems in this dungeon, that would be whatever soft rock would be most readily available, as they are the easiest to mould and work with. So, tell me what does this tell you?”
I took time to think for a moment. And then it clicked.
“There isn’t any hard blue rock around the mountain, or at least not that was easily accessible.”
“Good! What else?” Ikfes encouraged me to say more.
“And the stone was really hard, but the movements were rather fluid.”
“Excellent! What does that mean?”
“That the amount of work to make a golem, not an automata, to act like that is very high, especially if the material is difficult to work with. That the golem is special. It is unique in all its aspects. It’s a unique monster!”
“Bravo! Took you long enough.” Ikfes said with satisfaction. “It is as you say, that creature is in all likely hood unique. This dungeon has already a unique monster while only having one floor and less than a year in age! This is unheard of!”
Ikfes started to walk about the room, one hand clenched tight behind his back with a pensive look upon his face while he muttered something under his breath. I only managed to catch a couple of words when he came close enough, but the words “king” and “resources” seemed to stand out among them.
“Ladies and gentlemen!” Ikfes barked out as he suddenly stopped passing and turned to us with a serious expression, his hand flaring into the air dramatically and catching the attention of everyone. “I have a new mission for you. You will depart at once to the dungeon again. You will be there to observe the dungeon and note changes. You may explore it more deeply if you feel the need, but do not risk your lives foolishly until more adventurers arrive. Ask the receptionist for healing potions. This time, the potions will be on the house."
I gawked at the guild master, as healing potions were rather rare even for us C ranks. Hell, as C ranks we usually carry only one small healing potion each for emergencies, and even then, the quality of it is not that great. Healing potions were an expensive luxury.
“Dismissed.” And with that, the guild master turned around and waved his hand, leaving us to see ourselves out.
Smit had gone through his fair share of work already, processing, altering, creating and destroying. He worked tirelessly, finding new projects to expand upon while he tried to rank up again. The gap between his current rank and the next one was significantly larger than the gap of power needed for his first rank up. The process to rank up was slow for his tastes, but steady. It was like building a boat inside a bottle, piece by piece.
He was sure he could rank up before the month was out at this rate, considering the speed at which he progressed. He certainly could gather more qi and mana now that he had completed the expansion of his second floor, and thanks to his cultivation techniques, the progress was far more efficient than it should have been for a dungeon core. And for him, this was just fine. The faster he ranked up, the better things would be for him in the long run.
Currently, Smit focused upon the details of his dungeon, decorating it a bit more. Though his idea of “decorating” was giving the entrance of the dungeon a full makeover.
Ever since Smit noticed how rustic and unrefined the entrance to his dungeon was, it had been weighing on his mind like an invisible elephant standing on his head. It irked him to no end that the first impression that people would have about his dungeon was that it was a simple hole in the mountain. It was an itch he just had to scratch, so to speak.
This situation had given rise to the current situation, in which Smit was currently erecting the most detailed entrance possible. Smit had managed to create a porch of stone that rose two feet above the ground around it, crafted of green quartzite rock. The rock was beautifully laminated with different intonations of green, seeming like the greens of the forest had had solidified into a solid stone. Moreover, Smit had taken his time to permeate the stone with his mana, filling it to the brim and hardening it to the limit of his abilities.
The porch had two columns that stretched upwards, bounding the edges of the trance to the dungeon, and were capped off by a small roof that attached itself to the rocky wall of the mountain right above the entrance to the dungeon. Overall, the new porch had the look of an ancient, dignified temple. But that was not enough for Smit. The entrance, the hole itself still needed to be fixed.
And this is where Smit decided to add some… flare to his work. The old hole was replaced by a proper doorway made of jet black stone, at either side of which was decorated by figures of carved weapons, like hammers, swords, and arrows. The weapons seemed to be held together by vines and waves, making the weapons seem to grow out of the nature itself. On the upper side of the doorway, he crafted a sign in the stone. It would be the name of his dungeon. He had kept it nice and simple, yet elegant. The name was derived from the very moment when he became a dungeon, “The Dungeon of Origins”. It was perfect in his mind. This dungeon was his new beginning, the origin of his new life, the start of his new world, and the root of what gave birth to his creations. This dungeon was truly a dungeon of origins for him.
And then, Smit added the finishing touch. Above the sign for his dungeon, he carved a pair of old, sagely green eyes which looked down upon the place where the people entering the dungeon would pass through, as if judging their worth. He modeled the eyes after the ones which he had had when he had been a dwarf, making them as life-like as possible.
He stepped back and looked upon his creation, and felt that it was appropriate. Moreover, he felt proud of his work, considering that it was barely within his range of influence, just skirting the boundary, and it had cost him much more mana than it should have due to this.
Yet, he could not be bothered to be upset by this expenditure of mana. He had satisfied his craving for his entrance, fixing it appropriately and making it far more resistant than it was originally. In all likelihood, any other dungeon would have reject outright the idea of wasting so much mana in an entrance, but not Smit. Smit would create the most beautiful dungeon possible.
Humming to himself in satisfaction, Smit was about to retreat his consciousness into his dungeon again when he sensed the approach of his kobolds. Smirking, he decided to stick around until he saw their expressions.
This might be entertaining.
|Species: True Dungeon|
|Name: Smit||Age: 2 months|
|Mana: 30845 MP||Anima: 65|
|Mana Reg.: 210 MP/h||Anima Reg.: 5.1 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|