The sun shone right in my outside eye for a couple hours each day, sometime just before noon when it cleared the peaks of the immense mountain until the trees blocked it. At night the sky was clearly a new one - the stars were scattered and sparse, and there were two moons. One was large and seemed to be more like a sister planet, given the colors, the other was small, red, and fast-moving, clearly in a much closer orbit. I wasn’t in the world I knew, but that was something I’d figured from the first.

Roundabout the time the mountains eclipsed the sun, the sound of horse’s hooves came from outside. That was something I recognized.

Two heavily-armored knights rode out of the woods.

It made me uneasy for no reason I could articulate, and doubly so as they swung off their mounts and went immediately toward the entrance of my little pocket in the mountain. The camouflaged front door was up at the moment, and I left it that way. If they saw me close it, they’d know there was someone home. Hurriedly, I reclaimed all the traps in the hall - thankfully, there were no digesters visible at the moment - and, as an afterthought, the wall in the original room that had been broken through. I was still Altering in rough edges and loose stones when the two came tromping up to the threshold.

Immediately the overlay pinged me.

Terreng Llan, Level 50 Knight

Yamal Iin, Level 50 Knight

Those were big numbers. Bigger than mine, anyway.

They strolled in, Yamal taking a warhammer from a loop on his belt and swinging it casually as he walked through the hall. And just that hurt. It was like getting punched in the...something. I didn’t have a gut anymore, but my walls smarted from the proximity. I wasn’t sure what exactly it was, some sort of power he had maybe, but I could sure feel it. The pair of them strode down the hall, side by side, and went directly for the room. And stopped, looking.

“Well, the second one isn’t here.”

“Yes, I can see that.” Yamal spun that warhammer of his and abruptly slammed it into the wall. And now I know what caused the damage I saw on my first day, because it happened again. My wall exploded, and if I thought it hurt before, this was agony, deep and nauseating. And it was just as well I had nothing to vocalize with, because screaming would only give me away. I could do nothing.

“Still alive, a little bit.” Terreng observed. I saw with horrified fascination a thick black ooze seeping from the broken pieces of rock where tendrils had been torn. It was rather like seeing your own guts exposed, but given that the wall wasn’t me and I could build a new one, it wasn’t as horrible as all that.

It still hurt, though.

“I bet he was here and took it.”

“That or it exploded worse than the first one. If he did take it, Master’s going to have our heads.”

“Unless we can find it.”

“If he took it, it’ll be easy to find out. And if it was someone else...well, they won’t last long. We can track it down once someone starts feeding it.”

“I hope so. Dammit!” Yamal knocked down the next section of wall with a frustrated blow of his warhammer, and there was nothing I could do about it but suffer. They were dangerous and my best, absolute best defense was to be stealthy. Inasmuch as an immobile building sort of thing could be.

After a few more glances this way and that, the pair of knights left, remounting their horses and heading back into the woods.

[Intuition] gained.

Intuition: Gain insight into events with little data.

I determined that this particular section had to be discarded. Off limits. Who knew when that pair or someone else would come back, apparently looking for my crystal or something like it. I’d still need access to the outside world, but not that cave, not there.

I Relocated all the roots, setting them to bore through the rock beneath and to the side of that L-shape, while using Camouflage to make the remaining walls look like rough rock. Pretend that nobody is home. I was loath to actually reclaim it all because I still needed some source of biomass income from whatever animals wandered into my sometime trap corridor if I was to properly expand and set myself up. I couldn’t move fast, but nobody expected a dungeon to move at all.


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