First, she had Doc enlarge spaces along the tunnel to form rooms. She had kept a hawk's eye on his mana levels and concentration; barking orders when he started to slip and making sure his mana never fell below conscious level. When he got low, she made him switch to creating more cheap slimes, never allowing him to rest for a second. When she required sleep, she gave Doc a task to complete before she woke up and then settled on top of a slime. After the few days needed to carve out simple rooms, she made him enlarge the corridors to 6 feet high and 4 feet across. Doc kept his complaints down to a minimum because in no way could he avoid responsibility for his actions.
He didn't know crystals could become sore, but he was sure he felt it.
"Oh hush up you." Claire scolded, "You have enough slimes now to never sleep, and so what's the problem?"
"I never realized how much I missed sleep until this moment." Doc retorted, "You haven't let me rest in 5 days!"
Claire snorted, "Oh please, I know dungeons never need rest. You're just lazy and young. How would you know what sleep was anyway?"
Doc paused, "Well, I know I had memories of sleep. I think so anyway."
Claire flew back to her table and lay across it, gazing at him. "Interesting. Most dungeons are newborns, yet after being with you I'm sure you're an old soul."
"Old soul, what's that?"
Claire rolled over, "Well, some believe that dungeons are reincarnated individuals. I know that's crap for the most part, because the crystals are formed from mana and thus cannot house souls. You, on the other hand, seem to have been born with a soul that gained the ability to use mana."
"So, does that make me unique?"
Claire shook her head, "Nope, you have all the powers and limits of a regular dungeon. The only things special about you would be your understanding of things you can't experience, like sleep."
'I remember her though.' Doc thought, 'If nothing else, I'll always remember her." His mind jerked back to reality as Claire began hitting the stone he was hidden behind.
"No distractions now, hurry up and finish the entrance and the pitfalls."
Sighing, Doc returned to his previous task. Claire wanted a large and showy entrance to welcome visitors, but Doc wanted something simpler for the task. They'd been arguing the last day about it, but had settled on the pitfall traps first.
The traps were pretty easy for him to make. He moved section of his floor to form a whole, let a few slime drop in, and then covered it with a thin stone covering that would support the weight of small things like the slimes and nothing else. The dungeon was pretty simple given the time they had: 3 large rooms and his room at the end with pitfall traps sprinkled in the tunnels. He had about 70 simple slimes now, and they were everywhere now. Almost understanding what he was doing, the slimes had gone into the pits on their own, turned into puddles, or had climbed up to the ceiling and blended in to the stone.
"They have pretty good instincts." He commented as the last slime rolled into his pit.
Claire shrugged, "I'd say it was more you than them, but whatever you want." She was back on his first slime, which had become her favorite place to lie down. This slime was the darkest purple and never moved far from his room.
"So Claire, what's the story with this slime?" Doc asked, indicating her moving bed.
Claire smiled, "Oh this slime? This is you."
Doc was confused, "But I'm me."
Claire giggled, "No silly, I mean this is your other body." She flew around the slime and pointed, "This is your dungeon boss."
She held up her hand, "Yes I know you have no idea what a dungeon boss is, so I'll go ahead and tell you. A dungeon boss is how it sounds; the boss of your dungeon. Normally it is your first monster or the monster that has survived the longest. It has the strongest connection to you, so after you designate it will become a body you can possess and fight with."
"So I'm not stuck as a crystal than? I can move around in that slime?" Doc asked excitedly.
Claire gave him a thumbs up, "That's correct. This is also the last step of making a dungeon besides the entrance. Right now this is still a slime, but if you push your way in it will grow to become your boss. In fact, go ahead and give it a go!"
Claire flew up to her chair to watch the action while Doc got to work. He focused on the slime and pushed, but felt nothing happening. "Claire, it's not working." He informed her.
"You aren't creating something silly, so stop using mana. Use your soul instead to possess it."
Feeling embarrassed, Doc tried again, this time pushing himself toward the slime. He felt his conscious drawn out of his crystal to pass through his walls down to the slime. Experiencing vertigo, he watched in amazement as the slime rumbled grew quickly. Soon, it was big enough to cover a good bit of the floor and very purple. Doc felt his awareness switch from the wall to the floor, and found he could feel things.
Being a slime was a very different experience for him. He couldn't feel his dungeon as well as before, but was more conscious of the surface he was touching. Moving was also a new experience, and he enjoying rolling his mass across the floor. Claire flew down and plopped onto his head.
"So, what do you think?"
"Blurb blub blub." Doc answered. Startled, he found he couldn't talk the same way as he could before.
Claire giggled so hard she feel off his head. "Sorry about that, I forgot to mention you can't speak like you're used to when in your dungeon boss body. I can hear you thoughts though, so go with that."
'This is cool Claire.' He thought happily, 'Now I can explore my own dungeon.'
"Oh no you don't” Claire scolded, "Hurry and leave so you can finish the entrance."
Grumbling, Doc left his new body and returned to being a crystal. "Fine, but I still think the entrance should be simple."
Claire folded her arms, "A grand entrance will make sure everyone know we aren't hiding anything."
"It could also be persevered as a trap to lure in fools." Doc countered, "A simple entrance may look like a trap, but at least it's honest."
Claire sighed and shrugged, "Oh fine than, but it still has to be obvious that it's a dungeon entrance okay?"
"Okay." Doc moved his awareness to the front of the dungeon and gazed at his entrance. At the moment, it was still the small round hole with a large corridor behind it. Using his magic, Doc removed the stone and enlarged it to a slightly smaller size than the tunnels within. He kept the round shape, and added some rock formations around the entrance for visual effect. A slight tug and he had water droplets falling down the stalagmites onto the floor.
Taking a step back, Doc couldn't help put be proud. His dungeon was actually located below a small hill near a forest and grass plain, and the entrance was perfectly angled to be visible from any angle in front of it. The explosion from earlier added to the appeal, creating an uneven landscape leading up to his door.
Pleased, he returned to his room and informed Claire. She sighed and relaxed into the large slime, "It’s done then; our first dungeon and my home." She giggled and rolled around on the slime's head, hugging herself happily.
"Doc, do you think Mommy would be proud of me?" She asked him tentatively.
Doc smiled at her, "Of course Claire, you did a good job helping me; even if you pushed me to annoyance."
Claire giggled some more, "I was channeling my inner Mommy. I couldn't do it as well as her though."
Doc sent a silent prayer toward whatever dungeon had Claire's mom as his or her partner. "Now what Claire?"
She pointed down, "Now it’s the rest of your life. Expanding, evolving, learning, deepening; everything is left for you to do now. For now, why don't you practice using your boss in battle?"
"Okay than." Doc said as he slid back into his slime body. Feeling cheeky, he form tentacles and wrapped them around Claire's body, tickling her. She screamed in giggles and struggled to escape his slimy grip. He chased her the rest of the day as a slime and actually managed to fall asleep with her in his new body.
The two of them had 2 days of practice before Doc sensed something approaching. In happy expectation, the two of them spied out to see who was coming toward them. Doc had made a tiny tunnel for Claire to use to navigate the dungeon without being in the open. She stared out the peephole he made in the entrance as a group approached.
"Those four-legged beasts are called horses." She informed Doc, "They are simple beasts used to carry rider over vast distances. I think those are human riders on their backs."
Doc had never seen another being beside Claire and slimes, and stared on in eager interest. The humans were dressed in brown material and had coverings on their head.
"That's called leather armor, which is made from the skin of beasts." Claire told him, "I'd say this is a group of rangers, who specialize in exploration, information, and the forest."
"What kind of weapons do they have?" Doc asked eagerly.
Claire squinted, "I see bows and swords, so I don't think we have to worry about magic yet. Oh, that one is an elf!"
The elf looked a lot like the humans, but he had pointed ears, long white hair, and was taller than the others. He seemed to be leading the human rangers toward them from the forest line.
"Do elves have magic?"
"Yes, but unless they are mages, wizards, or sorcerers I wouldn't worry about it. No, I won't explain the differences now so don’t ask; I can hear them now."
From what Claire could tell, the elf was leading the human rangers to the sight of a loud noise days ago. From the sound of it, the humans had just returned from exploring and were tired from their previous trip. Something called a guild had ordered them to investigate before resting.
"That's the adventurer's Guild they're talking about." Claire explained, "It's a group who manages adventurers to do things, like dungeon diving. From the sound of it, there is a human city nearby and an elf village that's closer to us. It seems the two have a good relationship."
The group arrived shortly after and dismounted from their horses. They approached the entrance cautiously with weapons drawn. Doc was experiencing fear, excitement, and eagerness all at the same time as they approached.
[This wasn't here a few days ago]- Elf
The lead human eyed the entrance, [It is most certainly a new dungeon, and well worth the rush we put in to get here.]
Doc didn't understand them, but Claire translated for him.
The lead human nodded and turned his attention to his men, [Men, it's our job to evaluate this dungeon for the adventurer guild to rate. Are you ready for some action?]
The cheers obviously meant the men were excited. Doc cheered too, but only Claire heard him. She giggled.
The elf's head shot around to stare at her peephole, and Claire stumbled back in surprise.
[It seems someone is watching us] He informed the human leader, [And is quite pleased by our presence]
[Well, that just makes it more interesting.] The leader grinned at the elf, [Come on now men, let’s see what perils await.] The elf, leader, and 8 men entered the dungeon.
"Claire, it doesn't seem like they are scared, is that good?" Doc asked.
Claire shook her head, "No unfortunately. It means they aren't taking us seriously and will try to take your crystal."
Doc frowned, "How do we change that?"
Claire smiled evilly, "Oh, all we have to do is scare them. What fun this will be!" Doc noted that dungeon pixies loved a good prank as much as their brethren.
The group entered and walked down the tunnel into the first room. The elf was frowning as they finished inspecting the room and found nothing.
[Must be a newborn to not have any traps] He said.
The leader laughed and clapped his hand onto the elf's back, [That just means easy money, don't worry so much]
The elf frowned at him, [I don't take pleasure in killing newborns, especially for profit.]
The leader sighed, [Would you prefer we left all dungeons alone? You know the risk]
[True, but I still don't like it.] The elf sighed, twisting his sword.
The group made its way into the second tunnel. By pure luck, they missed the 2 pitfall traps and successfully entered the second room. As the last man entered, the ceiling slimes began their drop onto the men.
[Slimes!] The leader cried out, and the room broke into chaos. Slimes were easy to kill, but in a panic without any magic the men threw out any form of rational. One man had a slime land directly on his face, and was running around screaming as it fed on his hair. Another was forced to abandon his weapon as the slime chewed on it. One man even ran screaming back down the tunnel to the surface.
The elf and the leader remained calm as they fought the slimes.
[Calm down!] The leader shouted, [Aim for the cores you fools, the cores!]
The leader, wielding a long sword and a dagger (according to Claire) swung around and sliced the slime on the man's head in half. It dissolved quickly as the core fell to the floor. The elf swung with mesmerizing grace as he sliced the air itself with his weapon. Out of the 9 men in the room, only 5 had been directed hit by the slimes. The little monsters moved slowly on the floor, and were easy targets once everyone calmed down. They used their knives, swords, and axes to hit the cores and exterminate the slimes.
15 slimes perished in the room, and all the men bent over to catch their breath. The remained standing, betraying no indication he had any fatigue.
[I didn't expect slimes in this dungeon. An unfortunate mistake on our part.]
The leader nodded, straightening back up, [I've never encountered a slime dungeon before. Hell, it's not often we fight slimes in the first place.] He eyed the corridor beyond, [I'm not too keen on going any further without magical assistance]
The elf nodded, [Indeed, wise decision Sir Kenneth. Your role was merely to observe and report, not conquer]
The one called Sir Kenneth gave the elf and angry glare, [I told you its Ken, not Kenneth. Who do you think you're talking too elf?]
The elf held up placating hands, [My apologies, but are you not a man short?]
Ken eyed his men and barked out [Where's Perkins?]
The men muttered among themselves before one of them pointed to the corridor to the surface. Deciding the dungeon was too much for them right now; the group turned and left the dungeon.
But not before coming across the pitfall trap Perkins had fallen into. Ken shook his head as peered in, watching the last of Perkins's equipment being eaten by the slimes.
[Damned fool, running away from a fight in a dungeon. At least you were single, I hate delivering bad news] He made a gesture toward the pit, and then they left the dungeon. Doc and Claire watched them remount their horses and leave before they released their breaths.
Claire smiled up at Doc from the slime boss, "Congratulations, you have survived your first dungeon dive and even claimed a life. Few dungeons can claim taking a life on their first experience."
Doc winced, "Is killing really something to be proud of? I kind of feel like I should have let him escape, or at least kept him alive somehow."
Claire shook her head, "You had to show them you meant business Doc, in order survive. Dungeon diving is a risk all adventurers experience in order to become rich. There is no risk without reward you know? They claimed the 15 cores from the slimes they killed, and you claimed their foolish friend. Speaking of, you should have gotten a boost of power from that death."
Doc nodded, "Yeah, I got some stuff in my astral bag and some mana. The loot seems different from what was on him before."
Claire nodded, "Items you take are changed by your mana, so only powerful things are not changed some when you absorb them. Sometimes items with strong emotional feelings will be unaffected, but for the most part the loot becomes generic. All in all, a good first experience if I do say so myself."
She yawned and stretched her arms back, "Now, it's time for us to rest, and then you'll be back to work to improve your dungeon."
Claire blushed, "Stop it, that's embarrassing."
Doc chuckled, than moved into his boss body for a good night sleep with his partner.