The token frenzy continued and to help drive this little event Sage even increased the chance of tokens dropping inside the dungeon. Suddenly all the monsters of Sage’s secret army were getting in a lot more training than normal. However the one monster that got the most benefit was Blue, who has becoming every adventurer’s target. While Sage didn’t give out any skill books to anyone he did make sure the reward was mana ale and for the few that did really well 2 gourds of mana ale. The adventurers, at first, were disappointed at this but mana ale was still something worth a lot of money and in the back of their heads they still held on to the hope they would get a skill book.
“I wonder if I should reward someone a skill book to keep this up.” Sage was observing a battle Blue was having against a low tier rank F adventurer. After putting up some struggle the adventurer was defeated and Blue returned back to Sage via a secret passage. “Good job Blue, you have been learning well. It seems your body has a much easier time integrating mana than every other creature I’ve seen so far, I wonder if it’s because your body lacks a stable structure so it can easily take in the mana without any risk. Still, I wish I could have more humans to test my cultivation techniques and see how their body reacts.”
So far the only two humans that had received a cultivation skill book from Sage had been John and Xanthe. Xanthe left after the dungeon evaluation was finished, so Sage had no idea how she was doing and as for John he only had a breathing technique. Still it was better than nothing and the only data of human cultivation he had. John had been through the dungeon multiple times throughout the last 3 weeks, taking groups of rank G adventurers with him. Sage always paid extra close attention to John whenever he came and purposely created situations that would force John to act.
Over the course of the past 3 weeks Sage had managed to learn one thing from John and that was that humans were even less adaptable than the monsters at integrating mana into their body. John’s mana integration was much slower than Sigrid’s even when considering the difference in cultivation method. While his physical body was much stronger now than other people at his rank, he wasn’t even close to completing his first layer of foundation.
Sage was extremely puzzled at the slow integration rate of mana into the human body. The problem was that John wasn’t someone who lacked talent, in fact he had great talent. If his talent was translated to Sage’s old world he could easily be the head disciple of a small sect. But the rate at which he was integrating mana was like that of a waste. The only conclusion Sage could think of was that the human body rejected the mana integration because it was harmful to them. If they integrated too much mana into their body it would even end up damaging their body instead of helping it. Only by slowly integrating over time could their body slowly adjust to it and absorb more. The one thing that helped Sage come to this conclusion was the mana ale. The strong mana concentration had an intoxication effect, had this been dense Qi instead it would have only helped the body instead of causing a negative side effect.
In the end he lacked data to really come to any conclusive answers since John was his only source of information. He planned to slowly pick out people to give cultivation methods to and to observe them, hoping to fix this issue. The problem is he couldn’t give out more than 1 or 2 books a month so this would be a very slow process.
“Well this is just how things are for now so no point in moping about it.” Sage cleared his head and focused back onto Blue. “Ok Blue, today we will practice how to modify your appearance so you look like a human. Now feel the mana cycling through your body and once you feel it bring it to the surface of your skin….”
Blue’s training slowly continued as Sage spent most of his day teaching Blue. Sigrid would also drop by once a week and received teaching from Sage. She had progressed fairly well and finally finished the first layer of her foundation. With the first layer complete her strength had recovered to that of mid tier rank D and her potential was much greater than before. She had also been learning from Sage how to teach others as she had been leading different groups of rank G adventurers into the dungeon.
This had increased her reputation greatly and allowed them to find candidates for Sigrid’s future team. The number one candidate so far was John, who seemed to have fallen for Sigrid, making him the easiest to use. The second candidate was George who had now partied with Sigrid 3 times and showed great improvements. Based on Sage’s calculations this George should be able to reach rank F in terms of power by the end of the month. Besides those two there were few more good seeds but none of them as outstanding as those two. Since this was a long term team they weren’t in a rush to select its members, the goal was to have a powerful yet loyal team.
One other interesting thing that had popped up was that the creatures that lived inside the dungeon had finally began to mutate as well. The rats, bats, spiders, and such were now no longer as doctile as before and became mana beasts instead. This change wasn’t immediate but attacks by them had already started this week and according to Alice all the animals should complete their mutation in a few weeks. After that Sage would gain access to new monsters and summon them directly instead of having to wait for a new batch of animals to evolve.
The rats allowed Sage to fill the first and second floor with more monsters for the adventurers to fight without making it too dangerous as the rats wouldn’t really endanger any lives right now. The bats made a great addition to the second floor in conjunction with some traps that forced the adventurers to be much more aware of their surrounding. Finally the spiders in the 3rd floor floor forced adventurers to bring antidotes or to have a healer with them as they could easily hide in the jungle environment. All these increased the overall difficulty of the dungeon and a lot more people were coming out injured. However Sage was very careful with it as it only lead to increase in injury which forced the adventurers to be more alert rather than killing them which would only scare away adventurers.
Something very interesting occurred at the start of week 4 and it was something Sage didn’t even think would happen. An elite goblin managed to tame one of the elementary white tigers. It seemed that the tiger was fighting a group of adventurers and when he was almost killed an elite goblin along with his squad fought off the adventurers. After that the tiger decided to follow the elite goblin’s squad so now there was a goblin squad with an elite goblin on a white tiger. Sage suddenly remembered that he never set any rules on how the monsters should behave around each other, other than that they shouldn’t fight each other and protect each other so this was natural now that he thought about it.
*A Group of rank F and G adventurers*
“Be careful guys, ever since the normal animals mutated into mana beasts this dungeon has became a lot more dangerous.”
“Tell me about it, the rats are pretty nice for some extra money and the bats are ok if you’re aware of the traps but the spiders in here on the third floor are the worst.”
“Don’t remind me, I got bitten by one and my hand was swollen for a few days from it.”
“That’s only because you were too cheap to use an antidote, would have healed it in an instant.”
“Hey that stuff isn’t cheap you know!”
“You’re the one who is cheap, with how bountiful this dungeon there’s no way you can’t afford an antidote!”
“At least we have a healer this time.”
“Hey I’m not healing any of you unless we get into life threatening situation. Healing magic still takes a lot out of me and mana potions are much more expensive than antidotes.”
“Come on don’t be so…”
“Quiet, I sense movement in the next room. Prepare for battle!”
“It seems to be a squad of goblins lead by an elite goblin this should be ea… what is that goblin riding?”
“Shit! That elite goblin is riding a white tiger! That’s one of the rare mobs on the 3rd floor, one of them is stronger than the squad lead by an elite goblin.”
“Damn it’s charging this way, battle formation!”
“Arg, this tiger is stronger. I can’t hold it off for too long we need to get out of here!”
“Hold the goblins off! We need to knock the elite goblin off the tiger than we have a chance.”
“Ahhhh my arm!”
“I pray for the blessing of light, Heal!”
“Thanks, this is not good guys.”
“Yes! Now everyone quick back toward that tunnel!”
Sage watched the fight between the adventurers and the goblin squad with the white tiger. It was clear that this squad’s power had increased greatly with the addition of the white tiger and Sage decided to let this be and have them act as some sort of mini boss. He even handed a skill book over to the elite goblin. The monsters were at a clear advantage and would have won had it not been for the healer in the adventurer’s party.
“Hmmm, it seems having someone who is capable of healing can change the tides of battle greatly. This is something I sorely lack for my army, I hope that I’ll soon gain access to something that can heal.”
The fight lasted for 5 mins before the adventurers managed to knock the elite goblin off the white tiger, thus creating an opening for them to retreat. Sage didn’t mind too much about them getting away but he was happy that he managed to finally break through the mana barrier the adventurers had set on themselves. This had been something Sage had been working for the past 4 weeks and he could finally get through within a reasonable amount of time.
With all this practice he also learned something new, as he gained better control over mana he found that he could control the mana in the dungeon as well. Nothing too big but he could shift the density of mana within a certain area around. This wasn’t very useful now but considering his theory about how creatures in this world rely on external mana, once he could create an area void of mana, it could become his greatest weapon. Still he was far away from that type of control but his increase in control had finally allowed him to produce voice transmission tokens. Now he could easily send messages between him, Sigrid, and Alice without them having to always come back to his chamber.
However the one thing he had been working on the most, outside of training Blue, in these four weeks was the soul crystal. This was going to be his last resort, his final ace. He had been studying himself a lot and he noticed that within his crystal body there was a smaller core that housed his soul. This crystal was very interesting in nature and key to his survival. He had been trying to create a replica of it and place a piece of his soul inside. Then, with the help of a transfer formation, he knew he could transfer his soul to the new soul crystal. In theory his soul would leave the current soul crystal and seek out the new one and the down side was that all the mana he had collected would have gone to waste and he would start again at level 0.
Saddly this was a very complicated thing to attempt and with his current condition he only had a theory and nothing else. However this wasn’t going to stop him from continuing the pursuit as one could never be too careful. He finished up his practice of mana control for the day and let out a sigh, “Everything is moving along smoothly and only thing left is time. Time passed so quickly back when I was cultivating, years went by like it was nothing but now each day could easily become a life and death struggle where I’m basically powerless… Things sure have changed from my previous life but is it for the worse … or for the… better…?”
“You heard about the elite goblin riding a white tiger?”
“What? An elite goblin was riding a white tiger?”
“Yeah, one of the team that went in encountered it on the 3rd floor. Almost lost their lives if it wasn’t for their healer.”
“Wow they sure are unlucky. A white tiger is almost stronger than a group of goblins lead by an elite goblin now you add them together it’s like fighting more than 2 groups of goblins at once. The dungeon sure is getting lot more dangerous these days.”
“Yeah, but still the death rate is lower than the other dungeons and the rewards are bountiful. We just have to be lot more careful than before.”
“Sir, scouts have detected movements to the south, it seem they are gathering.” Penny was in the guild master’s room and her expression more serious than than ever before. “According to the scouts the enemy will be ready to attack by next week.”
The guild master stared outside with a frown, “So they are finally beginning to move. Send a message back to the king and have him quietly move troops over. We can hold off the first assault until the troops arrive and then ambush the main enemy force. Gather all the trusted rank C and higher adventurers, debrief them and get them ready for battle. No matter what, we must keep them away from this dungeon until the main forces arrive. If they get hold of this dungeon then it would be disastrous for us.”
Penny struggled before finally saying, “Sir should we set up preventative measures and destroy the dungeon core in case we can’t hold?”
“Nonsense!” The guild master shook his head, “The dungeon core isn’t stupid, if we do something like this it will only work against us in the future. After all do you think they would be able to easily get by with me here?”
Penny suddenly felt ashamed for suggesting something so rash and softly whispered, “I’m sorry sir...”
The guild master sighed and said, “Don’t worry about it Penny, you’re still too inexperienced. Get ready because you’re leading the adventurers in this fight.”
*Somewhere hidden in Dungeon Town*
“Sir, everything is in place. The army to the south has purposely showed their movement to the kingdom’s scouts. Now the kingdom should be preparing for battle and gathering all the rank C or higher adventurers.”
“Good job and what about the dungeon raid?”
“All the parties with our members have signed up to enter the dungeon on next Tuesday. Half of us will enter in the morning and the second half will enter a bit before noon. This way we have all possible escape routes sealed.”
“Good! Good! Finally, I’m sick of playing the good little student to that brat. After next Tuesday she will be chained at my feet. Muahaha!”
“Celebrating so early already? Don’t underestimate that “little” girl’s strength. If she was at full power she could tear you to pieces with a wave of her hand.”
“You! Hmph! But she isn’t at her full power! The demonic lava golems have weakened her greatly and now she is no match for me!”
“Says the person that screwed up the job and lost all the demonic lava golems in the first place. That should have been more than enough to capture her yet you only weakened her and even gave her this much time to recover.”
“Well don’t screw this up now after all the help I give you. Hehe, well then again you managed to screw up with 20 demonic lava golem and a top grade fire elemental so what is my help compared to them.”
“Arg! Just you wait! Once this is all over and demon lord Zoar rewards me for capturing the Ice Maiden and the skill book dungeon you will be chained at my feet as well! Alright everyone prepare yourselves and make sure you are all in peak condition next Tuesday, no mistakes allowed!”
Edited by: Nova and The super secret and mysterious masked editor... from space!