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A note from InadvisablyCompelled

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Double length release this week by word count, possibly related to hitting my first goal on Patreon!  Come join us if you want early chapters!

Day 85 - Blue

The new chambers proceeded slowly.

That wasn’t a complaint. I was being reserved on purpose. Partly because I didn’t want to strain my stone and biomass reserves again, and partly because Shayma and I kept tweaking details as the mana links came together. From her end, she felt that it’d be better to keep the flows apart, to keep them from overwhelming either crops or people. From mine, I had to keep modifying the water cycle to actually provide enough moisture and breeze without collapsing the engine. Mostly I put down tayantan trees to serve as anchors until there were real plants involved.

I also played with the Expansion field. Instead of dialing it to ten immediately, I grew things slowly. It didn’t have any impact on the stone cost, and in fact seemed like it took more mana overall, but considering the sizes involved, better to lean on my prodigious mana regeneration than risk bottoming out on my actual mana reserves. If I ran out while the field was still generating, would it snap back to start? Would it explode? These were not questions I wanted to investigate.

But eventually they were done, the ten-times expansion in place, red chrystheniums lined the throat of the fluted magma chamber, white ones dotting the low ceiling of the ice chamber, and green in the farmland between. Either I hit the size requirements exactly, or the volume didn’t get calculated until after the field stabilized, because the instant both chambers locked to their maximum expansion I got notifications on the overlay.

Size requirements for level increase met.

Dungeon Level increases by 1.

Skill base levels increase by 1.

Dungeon level has reached 5! Initial Dungeon Stage complete.

Calculating Rewards…

Due to having a Name acknowledged by a Power, you are now aware when your Name is invoked by anyone.

Due to killing less than ten intelligent beings, the dungeon is awarded the [Merciful] title. Driving off enemies without killing them now awards experience.

Due to generating no combat monsters, the dungeon is awarded the [Defender’s Superiority] title. The dungeon gains experience from creating and using new defenses. The more complex the defense, the more experience gained.

Due to obtaining a Companion, the dungeon is awarded the [Loyal Protector] title. For the Companion being of rank 5, the title is upgraded to [Sworn Protector]. The dungeon may teleport their Companions to the Core at any time.

I had no idea I’d be getting extra rewards. Honestly the rewards for level-ups were enough. Just that advancement brought me to level ten for [Fields], and [Blue Core Breeding Station], which gave me the ability to use different types of fields in the same room, and [Purifier Breeding Station], respectively. The first was absurdly useful and maybe even suspiciously timely, while the last one was probably going to be fun.

So far as the actual level-five rewards went, they were all interesting. The first one seemed...almost mystical, rather than strictly magical, and the next two would probably become useful in the not-too-distant future. The last one, being able to summon Shayma from anywhere, was the one that interested me the most. That meant I could haul her out of danger!

I’d have to overhaul the Core room though. Right now it was just a tiny, dark room, as far away from any sort of access as I could manage. It really wasn’t fit for human habitation, let alone Shayma habitation. Fortunately, I had an idea for what to do with it ready and waiting to go, though it wasn’t a new idea.

With my resource and mana income it didn’t take much time to remake the small lake, bordered with grass and trees, with a cottage in the middle. It still wasn’t a large cottage, though I expanded the main room just a little bit since my Core was in the middle of it, and this time I paid extra attention to making sure everything was high-quality. I also spruced up the surroundings, putting deepwater flowers in the lake to give it a mysterious-looking inner illumination, as well as green and mossy chrystheniums to round out the flora. Then, feeling whimsical, I added some crystalline and latticework versions around the entrance, the petals shimmering.

The final touch was either a [Link]ed door or a [Teleport] pad. I really wanted to test out the Teleporter, but I didn’t want to give casual access to the Core, or Shayma’s cottage, so with some reluctance I erected an empty archway in front of the cottage and another one in the town square, Linking them so I could use them as a selective transport.

I really wished I had some form of scripting or something. I would love to be able to make a simple white- or black-list for teleportation, even if I didn’t have much need for it at the moment. Though it occured to me right then I actually did have a need for teleportation, and teleportation pads, to let people go between the living space and the farm spaces. Which meant I had an opportunity to play with the Teleport pads after all.

Without [Mana Manipulation] I would have had to build a tiny room for them, but with it I could just wrap the area where I wanted the field to prevent it from spreading out over the whole floor. They came in linked pairs, but I didn’t need to draw any links between the two. I could get them to work without fully understanding the mechanics, thankfully, since the mana architecture was the most complicated thing I’d seen so far. They were also incredibly expensive. Just a pair of linked sets from the living area to the farms ate a fifth of my mana income with their upkeep. That said, the farming chambers weren’t nearly as profitable as the main stack yet, given how empty they were, so they’d probably pay for themselves eventually.

I waited until Shayma was done with her [Illusion] sparring, where she and Cheya were involved in some nigh-incomprehensible duel between their respective images. I sure didn’t know what they were doing, but I figured high-level people did. Regardless, it seemed effortful enough that by the end of it Shayma was sweating and breathing hard. “I have a surprise for you! Go through the arch in the middle of town.”

“Ooh?” That was enough to perk her back up, and she bowed to Cheya before heading for the town center. Once she entered the arch, I activated the link and she instantly appeared in the Core room.

“The cottage!” Her eyes sparkled. “I’m so glad it’s back. Thank you!” She slowly walked across the wooden path that crossed the lake, looking down into the blue-glowing depths and stopping at the door to touch the crystalline flowers there. Then she opened the door and stared. “Is that...you?”

“It’s the core, anyway. I’m not sure what exactly counts as me? I’m kind of the whole dungeon. But yes.”

“Well, you’re gorgeous.”

“...thank you.” I hadn’t really expected that reaction. Though to be fair, I hadn’t paid close attention to my core for a very long time. No longer was it a plain gray crystal, two feet high or so. Instead it was taller than Shayma and a meter wide, faceted and blue. Not just a solid blue, either. Different shades of the color drifted within, everything from pale near-white to a deep, almost indigo ribbon. They moved slowly, flowing as mana poured into and through the core, a miniscule reflection of the enormous complexity of the dungeon, wrought in cerulean and sky.

Shayma stepped up to it and put her hands flat on the crystal surface. Disappointingly, I couldn’t feel anything, but Shayma’s eyebrows went up. “I can see my Status!” Her eyes unfocused, looking at, I assumed, her own version of the overlay. “And I can...transcribe skills and abilities? By the gods...it just...[Mana Manipulation]?” She staggered backward, dazed.

“Yeah that transcription is what the Bargain used to remake your class. I guess Companions can do it themselves if the Core doesn’t? But not everything translates...I’m guessing you didn’t get [Mana Logic].”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Well, [Mana Manipulation] is probably pretty useful for a mage! I’ll have to try and transcribe you skills more often, I think. When I get new ones, anyway.”

“I...yes. That would be amazing. I wonder if you can have too many Skills?”

“I hope not. The more the merrier!”

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InadvisablyCompelled

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