You have reached Fifth Level.
You may now choose your final Attunement. At this time, you may select an Attunement of up to one rank higher than usual.
You may choose to receive a Bonus Schema OR increased Mana per Hour OR The Great Wheel’s Whim (II).
You may increase Anima OR Logos OR Arcana by one.
I was in heaven.
In the selection space for Attunements, where bubbles of possibility were threaded together on roads of light, I had finally reached the highest tier. The land of the Legendary.
The Attunement of Water promised to open up a portal between my Dungeon and the Abyssal Sea, and cause water elementals and sprites to spontaneously form within my Dungeon. The other three elemental Attunements were much the same.
Earth received a moment’s curiosity from me. The land it led to was an endless series of caverns, grottos in the dark. What kind of gems would I find there? What treasures would the earth give up to me?
Of course, that kind of speculation wasn’t a good reason to choose an Attunement.
Oh, but restraining my imagination was hard.
My future stretched before me, and I had the luxury of picking the road I would take. Of stealing a glimpse of each of the choices.
I found three Attunements clustered together, three bubbles of possibility glowing like stars. Dreaming, Contract, and Naming.
Anima, Logos, and Arcana.
Naming promised to make the Names I gave grow with their owners, granting greater boons with each evolution. It also meant that my spellwork would increase in potency, which I assumed would mean my fledgling work crafting Shards would rise to a new level.
Contract would let me bind those I dealt with not only in letter but in spirit, compelling true loyalty, and offer me the mental strength to force my will in the mental duels.
But the Attunement of Dreaming was the most interesting, because until now, I didn’t know what Anima’s function was. Dreaming’s boon was to unite the whole of my Dungeon together into a single consciousness, sharing their thoughts and knowledge each night as they slept.
So, did Anima relate my ability to communicate with my creations?
I moved on, examining the Attunement of Art. Each piece of art I created would gain magical boons, born from its aesthetic properties. It was tempting, very tempting, but for it to be worthwhile I would have needed to take the Attunement of Refinement or another choice that would enhance my shaping abilities.
Sadly, it was only at the end of my journey that I could see what the options were; a dozen or more Attunements could have been choices if I’d known which options to take earlier in support of them. Grandeur, Forging, Darkness…
The choices in the highest tier were endless and bright.
But in the end there was one that caught my eye.
The Attunement of Fortune. A promise, not only of wealth, but of repairing my relations to the gods. A choice that rewarded my focus on shadows and deception.
I had three choices before me, three true contenders. Earth, Naming, Fortune. Earth for the chance to dive deep and trawl from the earth rare stones and jewels. Naming for how it would enhance my precious creations’ and accelerate their growth. Fortune for how it synergized with my previous choices.
In the end I discarded Earth easily. It was only a possibility, after all, and one portal in my domain was causing me enough trouble.
The last two were more troublesome.
Naming focused on what mattered most to me, my creations. They were my eyes, my hands, my guardians. They would grow and thrive with this Attunement.
But I couldn’t believe that an Attunement that combined with none of my other choices would be more powerful than one my past decisions had built towards.
I made my choice.
But as I sunk out of the selection space and back into reality, I saw something. Rising above the supposed highest-tier, half-faded into a cloud of dark mist, there was one more choice. A bubble of possibility so enormous I hadn’t seen it due to the simple scale, mistaking it for a flat grey horizon atop the selection space-
A tier higher than the highest. It was dull and lifeless, somehow cancelled out or negated, but it existed.
You have selected the Attunement of Fortune (I).
Each time you level, blazing fragments of the Sun’s Luck will be sheltered within your dungeon. The longer you can keep them hidden, the more powerful a boon you will earn when they’re claimed.
As I returned to normal space, I discovered the first token had already appeared in my Dungeon. It sat beside me in the hidden alcove above the Sanctum. It looked like a shining golden coin, printed on both sides with an image of the sun and wreathed in small, delicate white flames, constantly making the shadows rise and jump.
It was made of the purest Mana I’d seen yet. Even looking at it for too long made my mind begin to ache, and I quickly turned away, returning to the choices at hand.
I could raise one of my three ‘pillars’ - it was possible I'd be able to raise them every five levels.
I chose Arcana rather quickly. While expanding my Anima was also likely to be valuable, and I really did wish I could speak to my minions more directly, I needed a third Name.
This time, the Naming felt different. I could feel the way the Mana flowing around Adamant shifted as the blessing settled onto him, as if the Name was a form of gravity, drawing Mana out of the surrounding air and inwards towards his core in a spiralling respiration. Along with unlocking a new Name my senses for the arcane had vastly improved.
[ Dwarven Eidolon ]
Granted a dwarven spirit, this golem knows the ways of the forge, the hammer and anvil, the dark underground and the glittering vein.
Name of the Unyielding Spirit - By expending Mana, this creature can harden its body into metal.
Adamant lifted his head as the blessing descended. I could feel his mind sharpening, growing more defined, as he realized who he was. Adamant, the Unyielding Spirit.
The one who’d been destroyed and reborn. The one who’d stood in the way of the Eyeblight even when there was no chance of victory. My first true creation, wholly shaped by my own will, crude and clumsy in many ways but fiercely dear to my heart.
He looked towards me for a second, and then at himself. He settled back on a rock, his hand extended before his single eye, and froze into the stillness I associated with him thinking.
I could sympathize. I was, at this point, a little overwhelmed with choices.
And more were on their way.
You may Descend
Every five levels you will be given the chance to deepen your lair, assigning a Guardian to your current domain and digging deeper into the earth to claim new ground.
Within the domain overseen by your Guardian, you will not be able to shape new creations. You will continue to receive Mana and souls, but the Guardian will claim a share, allowing them to grow.
Your chosen Guardian will be immortal, reincarnating again and again as the Dungeon accumulates Mana.
I hesitated. I had more to do here. My domain had just expanded again, and I hadn’t even fully taken charge of the territory I’d gained on the fourth level. I had only begun to extend the mangrove orchard across the lake. Best of all, my domain was a sphere, and with this latest expansion I should be close to breaking through to the surface if I so wished.
So much to do, so little time.
So when Argent and her crew of white rats arrived, I took less notice than I should have at first. She pestered me with images, memories of Adamant’s shaping and of a diamond necklace she’d seen in a jeweler’s window. By and by I realized she wanted me to create the necklace for her.
Jewels were one thing I couldn’t create. Because they inherently had the ability to contain Mana, trying to shape them out of it was impossible. The result would simply eat itself and collapse back into aether.
But I could certainly work up a close enough version. I relied on her memories to guide me, shaping a chain of pyrite tasseled with glittering teardrops of faceted glass.
Then she asked me for an iron key.
By now, I was curious. Her mind was an open book to me and I quickly caught up on what Argent had been doing recently. Midnight outings with her crew, the casing of the jewelry store, the meticulous preparation. Argent had always been brave. Now I knew she was cunning and patient when she needed to be.
And do you know what?
I wanted in. I’d spent much of my time recently reacting to one situation after another. A good jaunt above the surface would do me good.
Eyeing the portal, I made the choice I could probably afford to ignore it a little longer. With two new golems guarding the breach, and the Marquis sent back to lick his wounds, I had some confidence in handling anything that came through without needing to rush to raise more defenses. Sealing it entirely was a potential measure, but I needed to expand my biodiversity.
Allowing creatures from this unknown into my Dungeon was a quick fix to the fact that I was currently working with bugs, vermin, and the occasional bird caught in the spiderwebs. Exploring the Everforest would be a longer term goal once I’d fixed the new golems with Shards.
But for now, I would focus myself on the very real threat of the world above. A world I still barely understood.
I would go with Argent - at least in spirit - when she carried out her plan.