The news of Dragonite crystals and the discovery of a dungeon in the mines had spread to the city within a week. The news brought much discussion within the city citizens.

Even the city broadcasting system was talking about the discovery and everyone were both hyped by the success of the Marines defeating the Empire forces and now the news had spread about the discovery of the valuable Dragonite crystals and news of the dungeon.

"So what is a dungeon? Captain Blake asked as he looked around Magister Thorn's office in the Academy with interest. There were all sorts of strange and weird fetishes one would find in some museum being haphazardly placed all over the shelves. Large tomes and rolls of scrolls made out of animal hide were stuffed in all corners imaginable.

Thorn sat on his chair behind his desk furrowed his eyebrows as he thought about the question, while Princess Sherene sat opposite the desk sipping tea with Dr. Sharon. Commander Ford lounged on the sofa with his legs crossed while Master Sergeant Pike stood at parade rest next to the door.

"Hmmm, well a dungeon or labyrinth is a construct left behind by a god," Thorn said, " To be exact, it is an ancient spell that the gods used to create their strongest warriors."

The humans looked alert as they heard the explanation. "Are there really gods?" Pike asked.

"Well, I don't know for sure if gods still existed at this time, but they sure are mention greatly in the ancient and historical texts during the Age of God as the historians called it," Thorn replied. "Well, to give a brief understanding, there was a war among the gods in the ancient times, vying for control over the heavens, you know all that usual drama."

"During the Age of Gods, the gods had split into three camps, the so-called old gods who defended their place in heaven, the new gods who wanted change and challenged the old regime and the neutral gods who sat by the fence and watched the show."

"Massive armies formed from both magic and recruited from the mortal realm waged war among themselves following the orders of the gods," Thorn appeared to be giving a lesson in history to the hoomans. "But what the old and new gods did not know was that the neutral gods watched and learned as they created these dungeons and labyrinths to create the best soldiers for their own armies."

"And when the time came when both the old and new gods were weakened, the supposedly neutral gods attacked with their armies, crushing all opposition from both sides," Thorn said, "But at the final fight in the heavens, the old gods used a spell which ended the war but following that all traces of the gods vanished."

"So you meant that goblins and dragons were created by gods?" Dr. Sharon asked, her eyebrows raised up in disbelief. "Even the people?"

"Well, in a way, yes," Thorn nodded, "the magical creatures that you see now are the descendants of the gods' magical armies. For us the people, legend has it that we are the children of gods without any godly powers nor the immortal lifespan of a god, thus we were called mortals."

"Wow," Blake spoke up, "But the question is how do the dungeons fit in? As to how do they work to create the best warrior?"

"Oh, I am not very sure," Thorn said sheepishly, "I only know that it's a maze and that the creatures fight constantly and the victor will be picked by the gods."

"Wait that sounds familiar," Pike spoke up, "Isn't some kind of Japanese Kodoku? Or the Chinese call it a Gu? Except for poisonous insects, monsters are used instead?"

"Now that you said it, it does sound so," Blake frowned. "So we got some kind of ancient construct from the age of gods in our backyard, nice..."

"Ko-do-ku? Ku? I would like to know more about them please, and, you are looking for a source of mana stones, yes?" Thorn asked, "Well, the monsters inside the dungeon will drop mana stones after getting defeated."

"What?" The humans all cried out the same time. "There is something so convenient?"

"Well, each dungeon or labyrinth has a heart, it basically is a huge mana stone that attracts the dead spirits of creatures," Thorn explained further, "And there must be a huge abundant supply of magical energy, like a fey line than it can happen."

"A massive magic formation is created at points of magic energy naturally gathers, this is used to power the magic array and the dungeon heart. Using these energies, the dungeon heart will use the spirits of creatures it gathers, forming bodies, bringing the spirits into life with flesh and blood." Thorn frowned, "as to how it all came back, you have to ask the ancient gods."

"It acts as some kind of magnet to attract spirits and souls? That's amazing!" Dr. Sharon exclaimed, "I can't wait to explore it!"

"I don't think that's such a good idea, Doc," Ford said. "How deep or large will the dungeon be?" Ford asked Thorn.

"Well, I explored a couple of dungeons in my days," Thorn said proudly, "Depending on the magic source, it can go from three or four stories underground to a hundred levels! There used to be a couple of dungeons within the Goldrose Kingdom, both were small dungeons that mostly used by adventurers to hunt for monsters."

"For this dungeon, I suspect it should be around 10 to 15 levels deep," Thorn guessed, "We will only know more when we explore it."

"Wait, so the dungeon has creatures inside, so what happens if we killed everything?" Pike asked. "And what happens if we remove the dungeon heart?"

"Oh, most countries forbid the removal of the dungeon hearts, as the creatures inside will reappear again even after being defeated," Thorn answered. "Usually takes two days or more for the monsters to reappear. Adventurers normally use dungeons to hunt for materials and items from monsters this way, and the country with the dungeon charges an entrance fee."

"So, the monsters respawn?" Pike eyes glowed, "So we can keep farming the monsters for mana stones?"

"Oh yes," Thorn nodded, "But the treasures and artifacts don't respawn when taken out of the dungeon."

"Wait!" Blake stopped Thorn, "There are treasures and artifacts?"

"Of course!" Thorn nodded again, "Well the gods wanted to entice mortals and creatures to join their armies in the past, so it's common to have treasure and artifacts stored inside the dungeons."

"As for the heart," Thorn said, "removing it will destroy the dungeon. The monsters wouldn't respawn anymore and the dungeon will become a lifeless structure. So I would advise not to touch the heart at all if you want a constant source of mana stones."

"Great…" Blake looked at Ford who grinned. "So we should lock down the dungeon first to prevent anyone from entering till our forces cleared it first?"

"Well, you can charge a fee for anyone willing to enter the dungeon," Thorn shrugged. "That's how it was done normally."

"How difficult would the dungeon be?" Pike asked again. "Do many people die exploring a dungeon?"

"That depends on the dungeon type," Thorn replied, "Also it does get harder the deeper you venture into the dungeon, and if you encounter champions or even bosses inside. Some dungeons are even well known for mechanical traps and devices."

"There had been many deaths in the past till the adventuring guilds tend to assign a grade to known dungeons, from Rank One to Rank Five. With Five as the hardest." Thorn continued, "It helped to reduce the number of deaths greatly as the guilds also assigned a rank to each adventurer, so they know what's the approximate level for them to enter a dungeon."

"They have champions and bosses?" Dr. Sharon excitedly asked before looking at Captain Blake, "Captain! Request permission to be part of the exploration team!"

Blake groaned and shook his head, "Doc, please, it is dangerous, and we can't have anything happening to you!"

"Well, you can have Claymore One to escort me!" Dr. Sharon argued.

"I been in a dungeon too when I was younger," Princess Sherene suddenly spoke up, "It was alright, I and my brothers fought against some undead."

"Princess, you're NOT helping!" Blake muttered, shaking his head.

"Hahaha," Ford laughed, "Doc, let the Marines take a look first, if Pike deems the danger level to be acceptable then we organize you and a team to enter the dungeon. How's that, Captain?"

Blake nodded, "Yes, and Princess, no, you don't get to go either!"

Both Dr. Sharon and Sherene pouted and started whispering some conspiracy between themselves.

"Alright, so to sum it up, this dungeon can provide us with a steady supply of mana stones." Blake summarised, "Also chance of finding treasure and magical artifacts. But we do not know what grade the dungeon is."

"So how do the guilds grade the dungeons?" Blake further asked.

"By the number of levels and monsters type," Thorn said, "Generally a dungeon up to five levels deep are rank one, up to 10 levels as rank two, up to 20 levels deep as rank three and 30 levels deep as rank four and anything more than 40 levels deep as rank five."

"So you estimate our dungeon to be rank two to three?" Ford asked which Thorn nodded. "Great! So who wants to form a party?"

"Me! Me!" Dr. Sharon hopped up and down excited, her short 150 cm height made her look like a child at times, especially now.

Blake sighed and glared at her till she settled down quietly at her chair. "As we had said, wait till we assess the danger level."

"Sir, I like to volunteer the Hundred and First on an armed recon of the dungeon first," Pike said.

"How's the wounded Claymore One member?" Blake asked.

"He's alright now, he will be having nightmares for a while, but there aren't any long-lasting effects to his mental health," Dr. Sharon answered. "He shouldn't be possessed or carry any unwanted things on him. He just failed his sanity check."

"Yes, Sir, Doc had given him a clean bill of health," Pike said, "I would like to have the Hundred and First run through the dungeon as a training exercise for them. You know, idle hands are the devil's tools and all that, and I do so love a live fire exercise."

"I see," Blake grinned and rubbed his chin. "Alright, Top, I approve. Send them in for a look see look see, if things get too hot, pull them back."

"Yes, sir!" Pike acknowledged. "I will have them map the dungeon out as well, and also a company of Marines will be in support should they need more firepower."

"Alright next, how are the test results on the Dragonite crystals?" Blake asked Dr. Sharon next. "Are they suitable for us to use as a form of fuel?"

"Oh, very!" Dr. Sharon smiled, "Apparently we can refine it into a liquid form which works similarly to gasoline, in fact, the Octane index is rated at 90 just purely on its own!" And with a few minor refinements, we can make aviation grade fuel as you have requested."

"I think so far this is the best turn of events since that incident involving those deserters," Blake said, "I got plans for a couple of all wooden construction airframes, just that we lack fuel and proper weapons for them."

"Now we have the fuel problem solved, we need to solve our gunpowder issues," Blake continued, "Black powder really isn't suited for fully automatic weapons, fire a few dozens rounds in it and the weapons will jam."

"Top, I would like to prioritize on the research of making smokeless powder." Blake instructed Pike, "Artillery can still be put on hold. If we have smokeless powder, the problems caused by black powder in the breech-loading artillery will also be solved too."

"Also anti-air artillery," Blake raised up next, "We need some sort of delay or proximity fuses for anti-aircraft shells. We can't use impact fuses against flying targets."

"Intel has estimated that if the Duke's force of roughly 20 thousand regular troops gets supported by a hundred dragons, the main standing army of the Empire of half a million would have at least two thousand five hundred dragons on call, not counting irregular or reserves if they have it!"

A note from neo Koh

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