The gate facing the dungeon was quiet now. The guards were patrolling the plain side of iron town, so there was no one to stop Falcon and Nat as they walked toward the dungeon.
"Sir, are you absolutely sure you can make this trap?" Nat asked again, "You were horribly hurt from using all that mana."
Falcon chuckled and pulled out a cyan colored hat from his black robe with golden patterns. After adjusting it on his head, he put his pipe back into his mouth and held his hands out.
"This is my official outfit, what do you think?"
Nat nodded, "It looks good sir, but . . ."
"I'm known as the Ice-Fire Wizard in certain circles, so my outfit caters to that you know? Since I finished with enchanting, I really need to look into a new study of magic to pursue. Maybe a technomancer; they make all sorts of interesting gimmicks," He babbled away.
"That's very interesting but . . ."
"No, technomancy requires too much time learning what enchantments go with what material and how two materials interact. And you can forget about the cost, it's outrageous. I mean, sheesh, you'd think giant bones and dragon fangs would be easier to get when you're a leader in a multi-national organization, but you'd be quite surprised."
"SIR CAN YOU PLEASE STOP TALKING AND LISTEN TO ME." Nat screamed at the magus. He watched in amusement as she began huffing and glaring at him.
"There you go; are still scared?" He asked her gently.
Nat blinked, and looked down at her clenched fists. Her nervousness was gone, and she felt better than she had since the attack.
Falcon walked over, his robes returned to their normal plain black color, and put his arm on her shoulder. "People forget sometimes that living through a horror can be just as dangerous as dying. You looked death in the face last night; you were prepared to die. Yet, you were saved, and now where do your emotions go? You killed your feelings to avoid pain, and now they return all at once. A little outburst is all you need to settle down."
"So, everything you have been saying has been to calm me down?" Nat spoke in wonder as she stared up at the older man.
Falcon snorted, "What are you talking about? I needed someone to bounce ideas off of since Jare won't help me anymore. Besides, your boyfriend perked my interest and I wanted to get a feel of him through you."
"He's now my boyfriend." Nat muttered as she blushed deeply.
Falcon rolled his eyes and resumed walking to the dungeon, "Right, the man saves the girl from certain death, reveals his life draining powers, and tells her he won't her die. Definitely not your boyfriend."
Fiora stuttered in protest, but the Magus was too far away to hear her. She gave up and hurried after him into the dungeon.
When they reached the center room, they found it similarly abandoned like the gate.
"Now, let's see . . ." Falcon moved his hand over the teleport sigil and checked through the list.
"Really girl, you haven't been past the first floor with your strength?" He turned and asked mockingly.
Nate toed the floor, "I haven't been back since the big change."
"No matter; come, take my hand." He held out his hand as Nat grabbed hold. He pressed the rune, and the two found themselves on the 7th floor.
Nat blinked in surprise, "How did I get to this floor? I haven't made it here yet."
"Magic. Now, come along my dear, we can't waste time here." He turned around with a flourish of his robe and began walking swiftly.
"Are we going to conquer the dungeon to get to the last floor?" Nat asked.
Falcon snorted, "I don't have the time or mana reserves to do such a thing. I barely have enough power to maintain this corporeal illusion from my bed."
'Oh, so that's what he is.' Nat understood, 'I was wondering where his staff was.'
She followed the magus through the tunnels an to a dead-end room. When he got there, Falcon sat down against the wall and folded his hands.
"Um, sir, what do we do now?" Nat felt rather confused by his actions.
Falcon raised an eyebrow, "Now, we wait of course."
Claire waited patiently as the light returned to Doc's crystal.
"Oh good, I was worried you'd be gone longer." Claire said, the relief evident on her face.
"Ow, I feel like I got smashed by a broadsword." Doc moaned.
Claire grinned, "Well congratulations Doc, you just experienced your first exorcism. Now, since you aren't exactly in you best mind, I'll go ahead and explain what happened to you."
"When the adventurers made it back to the town, the priests cast a large scale holy spell designed to eliminate foreign mana from the land. Naturally, your and the other dungeon's mana seeping into the ground counts as foreign. When the spell hit, it destroyed your influence and all the mana you used; thus creating a back-lash in your crystal as the amount of mana you had fell quickly."
"Now," Claire continued with her finger in the air, her body in full lecture mode, "Thankfully it was the invading dungeon's sphere of influence that drew yous mana out, so you received only a small backlash. That fellow likely is reeling in pain and maybe even lost a few floors because of it. If you had been the one to start that fight, I imagine you'd be back to only having 4 floors again."
Doc shivered at the thought, "So, that is the kind of spell the church would have used against me?"
"Nope; that spell only works on land that is newly controlled by a dungeon. It would be useless against your actually dungeon."
"Anyway, thanks to your help most of the adventurers survived the night and made it back safely to the town. They are probably thinking of a way to counter attack, but will waste too much time talking before the undead dungeon recovers it's lost power."
"That's too bad then. I . . ." Doc paused and tilted is imaginary head, "Someone entered the dungeon."
"Really? That's a surprise; well go ahead and summon your monsters . . ."
They both paused and cried out at the same time, "OH CRAP!"
"Doc quick! How much mana do you have left?" Claire flew around in a panic.
"Not enough! The cost to make more slimes is too damn high! I don't think I have enough to make the bosses either!" Doc, too, was panicking.
"ARG!" Claire slapped her head, "Why did I make you send out all the slimes? Now we don't have anything to protect us; we're a sitting dungeon."
"I mean, we already were but. . .ARG!"
The twins and Lady stared on, sensing the panic but doing nothing.
"Momma, Poppa, the two adventurers are not doing anything."
"Eh?" Doc and Claire paused as Doc in-tuned his crystal to show the adventurers.
"Hey, that's the old guy who evolved the slime." Doc cried out.
"Hey, that's the adventurer who fought against the demon!" Claire cried out.
All 5 of them stared at the two in the crystal viewing surface. They seemed to be doing nothing.
"Claire," Doc said slowly, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't deem like the're waiting for something?"
Claire nodded slowly, "It certainly seems that way Doc."
The two exchanged glances, as they had no idea what to do. They had no slimes to attack, but the two didn't seem to want to go any further.
"Talk?" Lady piped up from the floor?
"Huh? Oh lady, you learned a new word congrats." Doc complimented her.
Lady smiled and jiggled, but held her hand and pointed at the screen. "Talk?"
"Poppa, I think she wants us to talk to them." The twins pointed out.
Doc scratched his metaphoric head, "Do dungeons talk to adventurers Claire?"
"Nope, they eat them?"
"What about in emergencies?"
"They eat them quickly."
"What if they helped us out?"
"Is there no way to help them?'
"Not without making some very paranoid priests concerned about an atypical dungeon."
Doc thought for a moment, "What if they don't tell the priests?"
Claire paused, "Oh, then that's alright then."
Doc felt his spirit crash to the floor in surprise. "I thought you liked to kill people?"
"It's funny to watch them die, but I don't WANT to kill people for no reason you know? Over-eating is a crime and everything we do is so we can survive." Claire pointed out.
"If you're going to do this, we will need to act very carefully . . ."
"How much longer?" Nat asked wearily from her position on the wall.
"I have no idea; it's not like I've done this before." Falcon reminded her.
The two of them had been waiting on the floor for close to an hour. Nat was getting rightfully bored, but Falcon seemed to find amusement in everything he could get ahold of.
As they waited, a small rumble shook the floor, and a small purple slime rose up from the middle of the room.
Falcon grinned, "Ah, there we go. A basic slime; I think we got it's interest." He got up and took a position on his belly.
Taking a breath, the magus began to move his body in a strange fashion. He resembled a snake suffering a disease, moving his body up and down in a strange wave fashion.
"Magus, what are you doing?"
"It's a dance popularized up north; since the slimes must communicate by wiggling their bodies this is the closest thing I've found to mimic it."
"What is that strange old man doing?"
"I have no idea Doc. Let's just play along."
The slime wobbled, and began to lift it's body side to side in rhythm with the magus.
Falcon grinned triumphantly, "See, i knew it would work! Now, let's try this." He stopped and got up on his feet and began to perform the same motion, this time on hit two feet.
"Should I give the old guy a heal slime? I think his brain is broke."
"Wait a bit longer; maybe this is one of those so insane it just might work things."
The slime once again copied the magus, this time moving up and down in time.
Falcon wiped the sweat off his face, "Okay, so up and down is a 'yes' and side to side is a 'no'"
"I don't think that's going to . . ." Nat watched as the slime moved up and down in agreement.
Falcon gave her a triumphant look, "Told ya."
Nat groaned and covered her face, "I'm in a hostile dungeon with an insane, eccentris old man and a talking slime. I must be still asleep in that tent."
Falcon ignored her and turned back to the slime.
"Just to verify, you can understand me correct?"
"You are the dungeon hive mind?"
"Would you fight us if you had the mana?"
The slime paused, then said 'Yes'.
Falcon nodded, 'Good, honesty is important. Not that you could eat me currently of course, but that's not relevant. Are you hostile to the other dungeon?"
"If we fight, will you help?"
"You want to help?"
"But you are scared of something." Falcon narrowed his eyes.
"Do you enjoy devouring us humans?"
Falcon shrugged, "I understand. We are just food right? You can sympathize with us since we are smarter than animals, but we are still food in the end.'
"Would you prefer I keep this talk a secret between the two of us, not even writing this down?'
'Yes Yes Yes' The slime was hopping like crazy.
"Alright, alright I understand." Falcon held up his hands in surrender, "I'll make sure the girl forgets, so this will be just between the two of us."
"I study dungeons and monsters as a hobby, so this has research value to me. I want you to allow a group of adventurers into you dungeon and let them reach the 25th floor. From there, you can form a tunnel to the invading dungeon and lead an attack with them."
"Are you worried we'll betray you and attack your core?"
"What if I made sure there were no priests?"
Falcon stroked his beard in thought, then pulled a book out of his robes, "This is a research boo full of my notes on slime evolutions." He sat it down on the floor, "Now if you help . . ."
The book disappeared in a flash of light.
Falcon stared at the slime.
The slime may have been staring back.
"Ah, right." Falcon scratched his beard awkwardly, "Dungeons can take anything left on their floors. You wouldn't mind giving that back for the sake of negotiation?"
'Noooo' The slime stretched very long, almost forming a smile.
Falcon 'hmph'd', "I never thought I'd meet someone as shameless as me. Well, that book is a fake anyway since I'm actually a projection of magic and not a real person."
The slime deflated.
Falcon chuckled, "In return for giving you a copy of my real notes, catalyzing two new evolutions, and the promise that you can have the dungeon core from the conquered dungeon, will you help us?"
The slime began to vibrate violently.