King Vas sat in at the dining table at his palace. The meal was all expertly prepared, with several dishes served for the king and his family, though there was not enough food on the table to label the moment as “excessive” by any means. Dinner was the king’s favourite time of the day, simply because he could spend time with his beloved wife Shana, and his two daughters, Emma and Dianna.
Because of his busy life ruling the kingdom, the kingdom had less time that he would like with his family. However, the one moment that was guaranteed to have time with his entire family was dinner time. His entire family would gather and talk about their day while they enjoyed the delicacies of the royal kitchen. His wife was a fantastic scholar and enchanter, spending her time immersed in books and experiments between caring for her daughters, and she was always happy to talk about whatever book she had read or any experiment she had carried out with the help of the royal enchanters.
His daughters in the other hand, were mischievous little brats that he loved with all his heart. The girls, though cheerful and adorable, were a handful. Dianna was the oldest, who dreamed of adventuring and glory in duels. Talented with the sword, she spent her days training and honing her blade between her other duties. At the ripe age of eighteen, she had yet to accept a marriage proposal, much to the king’s anxiousness. Usually, royalty would marry by seventeen, but his daughter was stubborn on this matter, refusing to marry a showy weakling that only cared about status or wealth. He had to admit, he was secretly proud of her standards, even if he could not voice that out loud.
His second daughter, however, a youngling of sixteen years, soon to be seventeen, had taken after her mother. She was a talented sorceress in training, capable of calling earth and fire to do her bidding. Born with dual affinities for both magics, she was a rarity that excelled in both defence and offence. When paired with her sister, the two of them were nearly unstoppable, each covering for the weakness of the other.
The king was mighty proud of his two adorable girls, and he had every reason to be. He had no doubt that within the decade, they would be more than a match for him in duels. Not a small feat, considering his strength was easily equal to an A ranked adventurer, if not an A+ rank. It gave him peace of mind knowing that his children would be strong and independent, able to handle whatever the world threw at them.
However, today this joyful moment was interrupted by the doors to his dining room being slammed opened roughly.
“Who dares!” The king roared as he jumped up to his feet, his eyes looking furious as his mane swirled about his face. He looked at the source of the commotion, only to find Ikfes making his way towards him with long, hurried strides, being followed closely by Alester.
“Your majesty!” Ikfes said hurriedly, “I must speak with you.”
“Ikfes! Old friend, what are you doing here now?” The king replied with shock, calming down at the sight of his old team mate.
“Your majesty, its urgent news!” Alester said hurriedly, “It could mean a world of difference if-”
“Vas, that dungeon. It’s alive!” Ikfes interjected, dropping a proverbial bomb on the heads of everyone present.
“Ikfes… slowdown.” Vas said slowly after a few seconds of silence, taking a deep breath to calm himself in the process. “What do you mean? Which dungeon? Both of you, sit down and explain everything to me, carefully. Servants, all of you out. This is a private matter now. You are all forbidden of speaking of this to anyone.”
Taking a deep breath Ikfes nodded and took a seat at the table, and Alester mimicked this. The servants who had been playing music or pouring wine for the king, nodded obediently and walked out of the room respectfully, closing the wall behind them.
Once the king was sure that they were out, he turned to gaze upon his guests. “Now, explain.”
Nodding, Ikfes straightened up on his seat, and leaned forwards. Everyone could tell that he was excited, quivering almost. Whatever he had uncovered, clearly had been important or exciting beyond measure… perhaps both.
“Forgiveness my king, I know you hate being interrupted during your dinner time.” Ikfes began, regaining some of his composure, “But I have urgent news. The new dungeon seems to be far more than we had ever expected. This dungeon probably has the potential to be a Heroic dungeon or higher. I can’t know exactly the level as it has not matured enough to be tested yet, but all the signs point towards it being a powerful dungeon in the making.”
The news left the entire room shocked, but Ikfes did not stop there. He powered through, not giving anyone even a moment to ask questions.
“Moreover, the dungeon sings. It changes and evolves at an unheard f rate, maximizing limited resources in a way I have never heard of. Your majesty, the dungeon is alive, I am sure of it.”
Seconds of silence slipped by while the people present absorbed the information that had just been thrust into their faces.
“Ikfes,” King Vas says slowly, “All dungeons are alive. We know this. They produce monsters and traps. What makes this one so different? So what if a room or two of the dungeon have weird noises? It could be a type of monster that we just have not met before.”
Ikfes shook his head vigorously, denying that suggestion instantly.
“No, no, no. That’s not what I mean at all. It wasn’t a single room, or even a couple… the entire mountain resonated with the sound Vas! ALL the mountain! Do you understand? No monster could cause such a thing, not if its confined within a dungeon. The sound was created by the dungeon itself. More importantly, even though all dungeons are alive, I mean to say that this one isn’t just alive. It is aware. It is conscious! It is capable of thought. Do you see what I mean? A normal dungeon will expand and develop in a way that is static but logical. It’s a simple design of tunnels and rooms which are protected by monsters and a few traps, rarely is there a design that is created exclusively to mess with people, unless the dungeon was manipulated by a god or devil.
This dungeon is different though. It hasn’t been claimed by anyone or anything, yet it is evolving and changing in such a way that it would leave several claimed dungeons to shame. Everything is calculated and developed in a specific way, and the sheer level of ingenuity that goes into creating what this dungeon has already done in two mere levels… It is conscious, Vas, conscious! To what extent it can think, I do not know, but I am willing to wager my title as guild master that it is sentient to some extent.”
“…Those are some serious claims, Ikfes.” Vas finally said as he sat down, leaning back into his chair. He strokes his read beard, thinking about the situation. To begin with, Ikfes was never one to make wild claims without some evidence. If he was correct about this, it was going to open a whole lot of problems, and a host of opportunities. If it was handled correctly, this could be a great benefit to the entire country.
“The problem is,” Alester interjected, with a serious voice “the host of troubles that could stem from this.”
The king grunted in agreement, his mind running through a number of possibilities as quickly as it could. “You are right. A dungeon of this degree might be enough to spark a war if we do not handle it carefully. We are not in good terms with the kingdom of Illeb, nor the kingdom of Amiss, and they would be very interested in a dungeon that can potentially turn a normal soldier into a monstrous enemy, not to mention the physical rewards that they could reap over time.”
“Indeed, it is as your majesty says.” Alester nodded, “However, beyond that, other countries are not our only trouble. If the nobles were to hear about this, the internal struggle to poses the dungeon would wreak havoc amongst the noble families. It is practically guaranteed that this dungeon will create a prosperous city around it, and whoever rules over that land will gain power and profits that would dwarf that of most cities in the continent, let alone in the country. I would wager that it might even spark a war between the noble families behind the scenes, as I wouldn’t put it past some of the nobles to attempt assassinations for such a price.”
“You are right once more.” The king conceded, knowing that what his advisor said was nothing but the truth. Though nobles seldom engaged in brutish acts of violence directly, they hid behind a carefully constructed game of words, sharpening their claws and striking when it was the most convenient for their schemes. “That does complicate matters significantly. I can think of a handful of people that would be also be dangerous to have in such an important position.”
“You speak of Lord Ravoul?” Alester questioned, his tone dark at the mention of that man.
“He is certainly one of them.” King Vas says with a grunt. “It is no secret that he is very interested in monetary gains, and he is not in great terms with the royal family. The rumours around that man are nothing if not ominous and unsavoury. But besides him, I am also concerned about Count Lerron. The man is a master manipulator, exclusively interested in expanding his influence across the kingdom. If he were to gain control of a dungeon city, I shudder to think at how he would upset the balance of power in the kingdom.”
“Dear,” The queen interjected, “If that’s the case, you should not forget about lord Estaban. Though he is neutral, as a magus he would be a good candidate to place at the helm of a dungeon city. As a high magus, he is more than capable of guiding the city down a more beneficial path. With him at the head, he would lead the city to be a center of magical research!”
“My dear, that is an excellent suggestion.” Vas accepted, “But if we were to simply hand it over to him, that man would undoubtedly focus in his research to the point of ignoring his duties. He is a brilliant man, but he is famous for becoming fixated upon his research.”
“This is true, my dear.” The queen agreed, “But that is exactly why he should be at the helm of this. None of the nobles would have to worry about him expanding his sphere of power, or abusing his position, as those things hold little meaning to him when compared to his research.”
“Hm…” Vas thought about this for a moment, stroking his red beard. “He is certainly a possibility.”
“If that’s the case,” Ikfes jumped in, “What about the duchess Bik’aard? She is a clever woman that has good ties with both the Adeventurers Guild and the royal family, she should be able to make good use of the resources gained from the dungeon. Moreover, her command over the battlefield is well known. She would be able to defend the city should the situation call for it.”
“This is true, Alester.” The king said, pausing for a moment before replying. “However, it is well known that she is a good friend of the royal family. Simply passing her the rights to a dungeon city would stir up a buzz in the noble families, not to mention that others will feel wronged as they have equal or greater qualifications as leaders in the battlefield.”
Ideas were traded like this back and forth between the four adults while Emma and Dianna just watch the proceedings like it was an intense sport, trying to understand all the implications and strategies that were being proposed. Despite being educated in the ways of dealing with nobility, the discussion that was occurring before them was on a whole different level. It required broad knowledge of the individual characters that could play a role in the situation, in addition to being able to foresee several difficulties that could arise from each decision. This is what it meant to be a ruler, the responsibility to guide your people down a better path.
“Perhaps we are going about this all wrong.” The king suggested after a while. “Placing someone at the helm of this entire thing by force might produce more harm than good, wouldn’t you say? Almost no one is aware of the dungeon, there is no need to rush this decision. Perhaps we could even make it a contest of sorts.”
“Your majesty? I am not sure I follow…” Alester said uncertainly, hoping that his king was not truly suggesting making a game out of such a precious resource.
“Alester, consider this.” The king said as he opened up his palm as if weighing an invisible object. “On one hand, we could place someone on the proverbial throne, and thrust upon them the responsibility of creating a suitable dungeon city. The drawback to this would be that many families are likely to take offense, and a number of internal struggles could be sparked.”
Everyone nodded at this. Assassination was likely to occur if someone felt wronged or overlooked. Even if they were lucky and assassination did not occur, they could stun the growth of the dungeon city in numerous ways out of spite. Worse, it would make many nobles less willing to cooperate with the crown, which would cause a number headaches for months.
“And on the other hand…” The king said as he stretched out his opposing hand, once more utilizing the same gesture he had just used. “We could create an event to find an appropriate leader for the dungeon city. If we can make it seem like the town is nearly unprofitable to most, the majority of the high-ranking nobles will ignore it, while lower ranking nobles that have less of a stake in politics might be attracted. If we can do such a thing, we might be able to attract people that might have a different set of skills, and groom them appropriately to take hold of their post in the most beneficial way possible. This might help us find some hidden jewels amongst our own people that we have overlooked. Though its more risky for us, it avoids suspicion, and it would allow us to have a better control over who presides over the area. Though the risks are great, the benefits could be greater.”
The room went silent for a moment while everyone weighed the options in their mind. The new option presented to them was risky, to say the least. Just like there was a chance to find a hidden jewel, there was a chance for that jewel to be snatched up by another high-ranked noble if they were not careful about this. Worse, the rise of a prosperous dungeon city might upset the power balance in the region, leading to certain hostilities… but conversely, if the new ruler allied themselves with the crown, and was able to properly manage and defend the would-be dungeon city, then the entire kingdom could reap the benefits of this treasure-trove. Better yet, the amount of people that would feel cheated or overlooked would diminish greatly, reducing the amount of hostilities in the future.
This was a gamble indeed. One that would have profound consequences on the kingdom if it were to fail. Yet, the benefits were certainly there. It was not always that one could create a chance for a new economic power to rise within the kingdom, and it was even less common to be able to choose who would rise. Even as a king, Vas could not foresee and manipulate every aspect of the kingdom.
“Are you certain, your majesty?” Alester asked tentatively, his words coming out cautiously, as if he doubted every step. “Though the plan has great potential, the short comings would be disastrous in a worst-case scenario.”
“You are not wrong.” Vas conceded, before grinning at his advisor. “However, it would be a simple matter to set up the event to be more suited to our needs. First, we will have spies find the connections between most lower nobles, and see who has connections with the upper echelons of nobility, this will help us make informed decisions in the future. Second, we have to make the event be skill based, eliminating the chance of outside help. Just this alone will help make our little event much more difficult to influence.”
“Not a bad plan,” Ikfes said thoughtfully, “however, I must ask… what will be the basis of this… event of yours?”
The king leaned back on his chair once more, and pondered that thought for a moment before replying. “This dungeon will become the treasure of our country. It could easily spark conflicts with our neighbouring nations. I say that whoever rules over the city must be capable of defending it, thus military prowess is a must. Secondly, whoever manages the city must be well versed in economics, as this dungeon will become a hub of trade.”
“Dear,” The queen adds, “don’t forget foresight. Whoever rules the city must have the ability to foresee potential issues that might arise in the future, not just the issues that they are facing at the moment.”
“Absolutely correct, my love.” The king nods seriously, adding that to his mental checklist. “And above all, whoever rules the dungeon city, must be resolute and loyal to the kingdom.”
“That sounds reasonable.” The queen nodded, accepting the criterion. “However, dear, how will we set up an event… no, a test for people to do this?”
“Well, dearest,” Vas said with a grin, “with a few challenges of course!”
Everyone raised their eyebrows at the king, wondering what sort of challenges he would lay out. “I think that economic ability would be the least problematic, as nobles are normally taught on the workings of economy. However, military prowess and foresight is a whole separate matter. I say that we set up a sort of war game to test this.”
“A war game, you say?” Ikfes said with eyes shining brightly, clearly hooked on the idea.
“Well, not a war game as you think it, dear old friend.” Vas said with a chuckle, “but the idea is simple. The noble must select from an assortment of adventurer groups, and must go with them to try to conquer the dungeon. Whoever can lead their team the deepest in the dungeon will win.”
“Oh-ho.” Alester says with a nod, seeing where this was going. “By handing them a unit that they are unfamiliar with, you want to see how adaptable they are to new and dangerous situations, is that it?”
“Precisely.” The king said with satisfaction.
“That seems like a good idea, your majesty.” Alester nodded, “However, we have dozens of noble families. If we have that many people competing…”
“Do not worry, Alester.” The king said with a smile. “This is where we also test their wills. Who will be willing to risk their life to enter aa dungeon personally? Who is willing to step up to the challenge and risk their life for the kingdom? This is the true test to their courage. It will weed out those who are weak of heart, and narrow down our selection. I will be shocked if more than twenty families even put their name forwards, especially if we place a cap on the ranking of adventurers they are allowed to use.”
The king give a hearty laugh at this, and smirks spread across the lips of his three conversation partners, while the princess look slightly confused, still trying to process all the information.
Meantime, they were unaware of a servant with his ears pressed to the locked door, trying his damn hardest to hear everything they had said. Unfortunately, he had only caught snippets of the conversation. Still, though he had missed the importance of the dungeon city, he had gathered there would be a tournament of some sort to grant a territory to a noble. That itself could be worth a lot to the right person.
Smiling, the servant silently stood up and walked away past two armoured corpses with a smile on his lips.
He could practically smell the money coming his way.
Back in the dungeon, the atmosphere was tranquil. However, just a day ago, the atmosphere of the second floor had been merry. The second floor had been a success, the intruders had been repelled, the lake had been protected, and Smit had ranked up. As a result, Smit had ordered for a feast to take place, ordering Pala and the remaining kobolds to hunt for some prey in the forest surrounding the dungeon. Pala had brought back a couple of deer, which he and his brethren, along with what remained of the wolves and snakes, consumed with gusto.
Smit had sung a merry tune as everyone enjoyed themselves, eating and laughing as they enjoyed the atmosphere. Smit’s only regrets were that there was no alcohol to be offered, and he had no physical body to enjoy food or alcohol.
However, now that the party was over, Smit was full of eagerness to continue his expansion. He was ready to create the third floor of his dungeon, and this one he would make a different sort of challenge.
He focused his powers on the wall behind him, and began to create tunnel spiralled downwards without any steps. Instead, it was smooth, almost like a slide or a ramp. However, just as he began to work on his would be next floor, an announcement rang out.
|Congratulations! You have begun your next floor expansion after your second breakthrough. As you have reached your second breakthrough, you are now able to create three more floors. Maximum floors possible to have at the moment: 5|
Smit paused for a second taking in the information. He could have a maximum of five floors now.
It seems like once I reach a certain rank as a dungeon, more floors become available. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I can build only one floor per rank up, but rather, each rank up will unlock a certain number of floors available to be created. Smit thought to himself, speculating the reason for the sudden jump on the number of floors he could make.
Still… three more floors were available to him, which changed things significantly. He could create a theme for a set of floors if that was the case, which gave him more room to experiment with his own ideas. Considering this, he decided to change his previous idea for a third floor.
If this is how things are going to be… Smit thought again, and an idea came into being in his mind. If smit had had a physical face, it would have been grinning wickedly, its eyes alive with mischief.
His dungeon had been fairly straight forwards so far, so perhaps it was time to challenge his guests with a bit of a childish game now. Humming to himself, Smit set to work, starting his expansion on the third floor properly. He could hardly wait to see the adventurers’ faces once they reached this new level, only to find out that it was nothing like the previous two. Perhaps it would give him some enjoyment as well. There were bound to be a few adventurers that would get lost in this place once he was done with it, especially if he was creating three levels of it.
He chuckled at that thought, and lost himself in his own work, his mind set upon the task with unshakeable focus.
|Species: True Dungeon||Rank: 2|
|Name: Smit||Age: 2 months|
|Mana: 109,232||Anima: 402|
|Mana Reg.: 235 MP/h||Anima Reg.: 5.25 AP/day|
|Floors: 2 (Max Floors available: 5)||Inhabitants: 63 Species|
|Titles: Creator of Dungeon laws; Creator; Guide of the Bloody Evolution; Legendary Craftsman;Master of Concentration; 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|
Smit: The main character, the Dungeon Heart
Echo: Smit’s first creation. Originally a dungeon core who lost to Smit’s soul in a battle of dominance and became wholly subservient to him. She currently has been bound to the form of a golem.
Pala: The second named creation after Echo. Pala is the kobold chief, leading the rest of the kobolds of Smit’s dungeon. Currently the most capable of Smit’s creations when it comes to defending the dungeon, capable of going toe to toe with a high C rank adventurer.
Adventurers: Members of Azure Arrow
Ella Graz: Leader of the party, C+ rank adventurer. Ella is a strict woman with a low tolerance for nonsense. Her weapon of choice is the rapier, and she typically uses a short sword or long knife as a side arm. Though her red hair, green eyes, and rather slim appearance are attractive, her technique is top notch amongst her peers of the same rank.
James Rhine: Party tank and defender, C+ rank adventurer. James is a giant of a man compared to most other humans, standing 210 cm, which combined with his muscular body make him an imposing figure. He is rather calm but his strength is by far the greatest in the team. His preferred weapons are his war-hammer and his tower shield, and he can be found wearing his full plate armour.
Mei Blatt: Ranger and sniper, C+ rank adventurer. Mei is a short and adorable half-elf that is quick and silent. Her detection skills are the result of hard work along with her half-elf heritage which allows her to have a heightened awareness of her environment. Her preferred weapons are the bow and arrow, though she always keeps a hunting knife handy.
Adder Ru: Rogue, C+ rank adventurer. Adder is sarcastic and at times obnoxious, but the dexterity that he displays with his knives make him one of the most versatile members of the team, allowing him to attack at short or mid-range with accuracy, or to hold his own at close quarters. He is not the most tactful fellow around, but his ability to discern traps and disarm them is well worth a bit of rudeness.
Ziggurd Am’id: Healer and magic user, C+ rank adventurer. Ziggurd is a polite and disciplined fellow that specializes in the use of light magic and water magic. He has large reserves of mana even amongst other C+ ranked adventurers, though his spells sometimes require longer chants to be carried out. He can often be found carrying a staff to help direct his magic.
Alester: Right hand to the king, acting as his representative or advisor depending on the occasion. He is on friendly terms with both King Vas and Ikfes. He is an intellectual man with a love for art.
Badack: Leader of a gang of highwaymen and thugs. He and his party became the first sentient victims of Smit’s dungeon.
Princess Dianna Crown: The eldest daughter of King Vas and Queen Shana. A genious in the art of the sword, Dianna takes after her father with her unrully red hair and toned body. A beauty in her own right, with long legs and athletic figure, she has captured the hearts of many men without even intending too. She has honed her skills with the sword to an unbelivable extent for a mere 18 year old youth, giving rise to her nickname the red lioness.
Princess Emma Crown: Youngest daughter of King Vas and Queen Shana. A prodigy in magic, she is blessed from birth with talent in magic, specially fire and earth magics. Despite being only 16 years old, her beauty is considerable, taking after her mother with her deep black hair, and her thin but attractive figure, she has been nicknamed as the fairy of the kingdom.
Gat: Talented hunter of the Nam village. Despite being rather young, barely eighteen years of age, he has a talent for hunting and tracking. He was the one to alert the village of the presence of Smit.
Ikfes Massan: Guild master of the kingdom. Previously an S rank adventurer. Friend with Alester and king Vas.
Queen Shana Crown: The wise and beautiful wife of king Vas. She is an enchantress and a scholar, with a sharp and inquisitive mind. Her skin is a healthy bronze color, and her face seems to be almost elfish. She is highly dedicated to her husband and children, and is always there to guide and support them.
King Vas Crown: Also known as the “Red Lion” of duels. He is a well-known duelist of high skill, and a good commander. He is a passionate man with a high sense of duty.