~ Chapter 33: Unforseen circumstances... ~
While Nanya was preparing herself by unsealing her power, I led Shanteya through the maze on the fourth floor, carried her over the lava on the third floor, and then guided her through the maze on the second floor. What I noticed now was that just like it happened with Nanya, the monsters and traps didn’t react to her. They recognized the el’doraw as one of mine, but the same couldn’t be said by bred and born monsters. Those were outside of my control and that of anyone else for that matter. Luckily, I had no such beasts within my dungeon. What I couldn’t remember though was if this was a recent change, maybe thanks to the [Bond of Trust], or it had always been like this.
Speaking of which, Shanteya appeared to be rather surprised by the many traps I had prepared as well as the numerous spawned monsters. Just like the other teachers and even Nanya herself, the el’doraw could hardly believe that what she saw were only the fourth, third, and second floors of the dungeon. Considering the fact that I already built smaller dungeons meant to represent the first fifty floors of an actual dungeon, I found her reaction to be expected.
The dungeon species was classified in the following races: Easy, Normal, Difficult, Ancient, Legendary, Heroic, Demonic, Ancestral, Demigod, and Godlike. These also represented the type of difficulty the adventurers were expected to encounter inside the mazes and labyrinths built by each of them, where Easy was the weakest and simplest type of Dungeon possible as well as the most widespread, and Godlike was said to be the hardest possible. By my estimates, my first floor as of now was the equivalent of a Normal dungeon with at least 100 floors, and maybe a Demigod dungeon with 25 floors. In general, the first one was the easiest in all cases, but I was a bit special.
Not only was I a Dungeon Core with a reincarnated soul, but I also had an incredible amount of Magic Energy as well as Magic Energy Regeneration. From my point of view, the difficulty of the first level could only be seen as reasonable, therefore, I decided that once I left Shanteya in the maze on the second floor, I was going to follow the two el’doraw and make it even easier for the three of them to meet. Once they went past certain locations, I was intent on cutting them off and increasing the difficulty of the zone.
“Will this place be alright for you?” I asked Shanteya and lowered her on the ground.
“This will do fine, Master. I just need to figure out the layout of the area, that’s all.” she told me.
“Very well! If you need anything, just let me know.” I told her with a smile, although she couldn’t see me. Why couldn’t slaves see me?
“Thank you, Master! I will only need you to tell me when they are near me.”
“Alright!” I said and flew away, while Shanteya prepared herself for the upcoming encounter.
Flying outside, I found the two sisters climbing down the stairs. There were no traps there, and most of the place was relatively clean and untouched. The first thing I did was to fly into the lava pit room and stop the platforms from going in and out every second or so. Then I opened the door at the other end and ordered the harpies to hide inside their room. I deactivated all the traps there and then closed the doors to the left and right passages, leaving only the front one open. After that, I returned to where the two el’doraws were.
The women appeared to have reached the first door and were preparing to split up on the right and left path. To keep them from doing so, I immediately opened the secret door and let them walk through without activating the levers. Once they were inside, I quickly closed it behind them and just to be sure they took the right path, I engraved a small message in the wall. There was no need for them to go wandering about trying to find Shanteya. I had to lead them right to her.
Now, to modify this place a bit… I thought and then flew out. If I have all those liquids and metals inside, maybe I can expel just one of them? But how? I don’t want to make a mess around my crystal body… I thought and then decided to try using the skill [Create a Room].
I focused on making a cube of oil with thin, air walls around it. It actually worked, and about 1 m3 of thin cooking oil was spilled on the entrance stairs, but I avoided the first four steps. The problem was that I could feel I didn’t have a lot of it. Most likely because it was seen as a luxury in this world rather than a common household item.
There was also a thick black oil in there, petroleum most likely, but this one was in larger quantities. I decided to use some of it and smear it on the walls of the corridors leading to the hidden levers. Adding a few poisonous gas traps and some enchanted arrow traps on the ceilings didn’t sound like a bad idea. Just to be safe, I added a few more traps on the two corridors as well, traps that shot out big spikes instead of tiny arrows.
Next up was the lava pit. I flew over there and used [Create a Room] to create a small ramp, afterwards I added some oil on it, but I made sure it stopped before reaching the lava. I also thought of adding some of it on the platforms, but it would have been wiped off when the slab entered the wall. Therefore, I reduced the time the slabs remained outside by half a second.
Now, all I had to do was add a few more traps in the next room as well as pour about 3000 Magic Energy Points into the Harpy summoning circle. I increased the strength of each summoned monster by another 200 Magic Energy Points and then proceeded to do the same to the other summoning circles here.
If before, this floor was the equivalent of the 50th floor of an Ancestral Dungeon or Heroic one, now it’s going to be the 70th or even 80th one. Master Ranked Adventurers will stand no chance in here. I thought before checking the surrounding area for signs of life.
Dankyun’s party was at most half an hour away, maybe even more if they didn’t use their horses.
For a moment, I thought about just flying out and shooting him with a 8000 Magic Energy [Infernal Glacier X60]. I highly doubted he could survive it even with all of his crystals, but if he actually did, and I was forced to retreat or even faint because of my exhaustion, then Dankyun was free to just waltz in and destroy my dungeon. However, I did increase the spell’s power, so a 4000 Magic Energy Attack would allow me to cast that spell 40 times, meaning a more than quadruple damage for each spike than a single unimproved spike. It would have meant not 400 spikes, but 2400 spikes, each much stronger and dangerous than the original one. Not only that, but if 240 were enough to deplete his Magic Armor once, then… 2400 would have vaporized him. What was more, I could recast it after 1 minute and 40 seconds had passed.
I’m also invisible, so he can’t find me. Reaching my core would require more than 2 minutes even if he could fly through the walls. This means I can keep on attacking him with 2400 Infernal Glacier spikes in tight quarters every minute or so. If I go and attack him right now, I will ki… just as I was thinking about actually putting this plan into action, something strange happened.
Although I was invisible and basically a formless floating entity, I felt a strange chill surrounding me, and all of a sudden, I got pulled back into my body.
WHAT THE? WHAT’S HAPPENING?! I screamed, but my voice didn’t reach out towards the world around me, it remained stuck in my mind.
Fear rushed through me, but it didn’t come from Dankyun’s sword. That one, I managed to handle. No, this fear was coming from inside my crystal body, and I could do anything to stop it from pulling me inside. I couldn’t shout for help, and I couldn’t stop this powerful force. It was frightening…
In a matter of moments, I returned to my Inner Mind, floating helplessly inside the endless darkness there.
I was cold…
I was shivering…
And I couldn’t move, but one thing was certain. The one or the thing responsible for this peculiar condition of mine was the darkness. The very thing surrounding me also kept me captive like a helpless chick in a human’s merciless grasp.
What’s happening? I asked.
[All Emperor Rank Skill have been Locked for an undetermined period of time.]
What? I looked at the message in horror.
This can’t be… I said and shook my head. All those points… are you serious? Are you joking with me? Hey! What’s going on?! I shouted at the top of my lungs.
Nothing or rather no one replied, and I remained motionless in that darkness.
I know you’re there! Show yourself! I shouted in anger.
My, my! The little one has quite the energy, doesn’t he? the voice of an unknown man was heard and then from the depths of that darkness, a humanoid form appeared before me.
It was a thin, naked draconian, but there was no color on him, not even on his scales. He was just as one would see him in an old black-and-white movie. Despite his race, he wasn’t what I would call good looking. His big nose and missing tooth in front gave him a rather unappealing vibe.
Who… Who are you? I asked.
Hm? No one… Carry on! he smirked and waved his hand before pulling back into the darkness.
Oh, come on now! Don’t be so mean to our guest! After all, he is the primary mind of this dump! said another voice who made himself appear from the darkness.
He looked like a human gentleman in his late forties. Unlike the other, this one was dressed exactly like a British nobleman from the year 2000: an elegant suit in stripes, nicely done black hair, a beautifully maintained mustache, a tie with a well-made pin, shiny new shoes, and an aura about him that screamed of high class. All that was missing was a fancy watch and a butler, but even then, he appeared before me colored only in shade of gray.
Allow me to introduce myself, I am Senegoir. he made a polite bow.
OK? I am… he lifted his right hand up to make me stop.
No need. We already know who and what you are. he explained calmly.
Then why are you doing this? I asked.
Well, it has occurred to us that you aren’t actually behaving in a dungeon-like manner. You actually care for these walking pieces of flesh. The wife system was only made to help us, dungeons, reproduce. Anyway, with that rude fellow’s appearance, we have decided it was about time we step in and thought you some well-deserved dungeon manners! he smiled and nodded to himself.
But I can kill him with that spell, so why should I bother luring him in my dungeon? Also, what exactly are you, and how did you get in here? I asked squinting my eyes at him.
You ask such unimportant questions, but an answer is required, I suppose… We are the leftovers of the dungeons used to build you. This darkness is nothing more than the conglomerate of our remaining knowledge, memories, skills, and personalities. We are your subconscious sort to speak, if you would prefer that term. Senegoir waved his hand as if it wasn’t something important, but for me, it was.
To think that all this time, this darkness was not part of me, or rather not mine to begin with, but the remains of the Dungeon Lords and Cores that were used to make me. All of a sudden, I felt like Frankenstein’s monster. A living being made out of the parts of former living beings.
I gulped in silence and looked around, remembering the many things I said and did while surrounded by this darkness. To know that in all those times, I was watched and analyzed by the former dungeons, that Ayuseya and Shanteya were also watched, it made me feel a bit disgusted by them as well as frightened by their possible power over me.
What do you want? I asked carefully.
Oh! That? It’s quite simple, lad! To help you understand what an actual dungeon is! Don’t worry, you are strong enough to defeat that draconian fellow even without that overpowered spell. Your dungeon is quite astonishing and powerful! It will surely annihilate his entire army and reduce him to dust! Senegoir claimed and made the schematic of my dungeon appear between us.
It was a hologram that perfectly showed all the passageways, traps, triggers, Power Crystals, and [Magic Thread] connections made between all of them. When shown in such a way, I could understand as well that my dungeon was rather complex and difficult to overcome by many standards, however, it wasn’t probably the best I could come up with.
You want me to lure Dankyun in and kill him with my dungeon? I asked squinting my eyes at them.
Exactly, lad! Defeat your very first adventurer with this remarkable dungeon of yours! That’s the proper way for a dungeon to behave! Lure them in, drain their Magic Energy and then ruthlessly kill them! he declared proudly.
What if I want to use that overpowered spell instead? It’s the obvious best choice out of all of them, right? I asked.
Well, then it’s simple. You can’t. We don’t want you to win that easily. Although we can’t control your words and actions outside of this place, we can put a lock on some of your abilities, for example: your Emperor Rank Skills. We understand it’s not pretty, or a very… polite thing to do, but we simply need to teach you what truly means to be a dungeon! he said shaking his head, disapproving of me for some reason.
But I wasn’t born as a dungeon! I’m a reincarnated human! I retorted a bit frustrated, although, I highly doubted it was worth anything trying to keep that as a secret from them.
We know already! he lifted his hands up and the dungeon replica vanished, scattered like dust in the wind. That’s exactly why we want you to do this! You have to find out and see for yourself the joy of killing someone with your traps and monsters! Sigh, maybe then you will realize that the so-called wives have no other existential meaning than to serve and obey us like faithful little pets… If only a dungeon could reproduce with another dungeon, then they wouldn’t be needed at all… he sighed again and looked down at me.
It was a bit shocking to see someone talk about a fellow sentient being in such a way, but these were actual dungeons I was talking to, remnants of those beings feared by adventurers, the enemies of all humanoid sentient lifeforms in this world.
Even so, I didn’t believe their words to be right. There was something wrong with them. Actually, there was something wrong with this whole situation. Instead of preparing myself for a battle with Dankyun, I was standing here, unable to move and talking with these strange apparitions inside my own mind.
Am I going mad? I wondered.
No, this is very much real. Senegoir said shaking his head.
What happens if my dungeon isn’t strong enough to defeat Dankyun? I asked.
Then we will give you back your overpowered spell, although… it’s only overpowered against someone like him. You have yet to meet the… his words were cut off then, but his lips were still moving.
It was like I had gone deaf for a moment.
What do you plan on doing afterward? I asked.
Nothing really. We’ll just observe you and give you proper advice when you need it. In time, you will grow to think and act like us. It’s unavoidable. Once that happens, we will give you all of our knowledge and skills. he shrugged.
What if I don’t want to become like you?
You will. As I said, it’s unavoidable. The desire to build dungeons, to lure adventurers in, to kill them, it’s like a drug. It holds you by a leash and if you refuse to do its bidding, it will pull you in by force. It happened to me, to them, and it will happen to you as well. Besides, he stopped here and squinted his eyes at me I don’t think you understand the simple fact that you aren’t a human anymore. You are a dungeon. Our instincts and natural desires will surface eventually. You will see for yourself, in due time, that we are superior, stronger, smarter, better than any of those mortals. he then looked back as if someone called him.
My body was freed in that instant, and I could move again.
It’s time for us to return to the darkness. We’ll see each other again, Illsyore. Senegoir said with a polite bow.
Wait! I shouted.
Hm? he raised an eyebrow at me.
Are you friends or foes? I asked.
Neither. We are you. he then left just like he came.
I couldn’t feel or see any distinct shape in the pitch black darkness of my Inner Mind. It didn’t reply to any of my calls either. Those apparitions were gone, however, the proof of their existence remained, seeing as how my [Infernal Glacier X60] was locked. It was grayed out in my skill list.
A shiver of fear ran through my body, as I realized the fact that I had just lost what could have possibly been my best weapon against Dankyun, especially after improving it so much and spending so many skill points in it.
Well, this is going to be fun… I sighed and left my Inner Mind.
A change of strategy was in need. Even if I didn’t have my most powerful spell, I still had the other ones. I could attack him with countless [Seeker Fireballs X18] and [Explosive Jagged Ice Spear X4]. The battle wasn’t lost, but I didn’t feel like I could win just yet…
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