The old man, Yenstar, spoke to my final guard. “We would like to see the core and place a marker around it.”
“Should we let them in?” I asked. Even though I liked these people I wasn’t sure I could trust them with my defenseless core.
“I don’t think we have anything to fear from this group. But you are right to be cautious about letting people in here.”
“Once I get to higher levels and can have 10 or 15DP of creatures in here with us I might be a bit less cautious.”
Arizo nodded. “But by then stronger people will be challenging us.”
I made a hum noise while asking the guardian to move and opening the door.
“Put your weapons away.” Yenstar told the rest of the group before crossing the hall and entering my core room.
We both filled with pride at their awe.
“Wow.” Olive said softly. “It’s beautiful.” The naga stopped her as she tried to approach.
“You can’t touch a core. It’s punishable by death.” He explained.
Arizo looked a bit surprised but since Mika spoke up I didn’t say anything.
“That’s not true on the surface?” When Yenstar shook his head the half naga continued. “In the bay that was one of the first things I was taught before being allowed into a dungeon. IF you even get too close to one, the marine adventurers guild will put a price on your head.”
“On the surface anyone that touched a core would be banned from entering another dungeon or joining the guild. But they would only get a bounty if they tried to move it or harm it.” Yenstar replied.
“I think we should follow the Marine rules.” Olive said, her face turning fierce and protective. “This thing is beautiful, funny and makes amazing things. Anyone trying to threaten it I will personally hunt down.”
“I agree.” Mika said. “Let’s put down the ring and leave the dungeon in peace for a while. ….How do we do that?”
Yenstar chuckled. “Core, the ring she is talking about is a circle around your core. Anyone that crosses it will be marked and interrogated by the guild when they leave. I don’t know the marine version.”
“Neither do I but I can have someone come and place it.” Hamish replied.
We watched as the old man pulled out an odd tool and started carving symbols into the floor not far from my core. For some reason these didn’t translate.
Arizo explained about what was going on. “Placing a barrier like this is common. Once they have built a town they’ll want to put another rune array down so they can teleport out of the dungeon. Which you can refuse or destroy at any time.”
“Why doesn’t it translate?” I asked as he continued to work. I would decide on the teleport later.
“Yet another thing us fairies debate but have no real answer for. The popular theory is that since runes are a solid form of spells, the magic causes them to be unreadable.”
“What do you think?”
Arizo smiled. “I think runes are gibberish that someone made up to help them focus the spell. Since they have no real meaning and there are several different combinations that have the same effect they can’t be translated.”
“Hm….” I weighed the 2 theories. “I have no idea. Maybe studying runes would give me more of an opinion.”
“I added a layer of shielding as well.” He held his hand out and it stopped on an invisible barrier at the outside edge of the runes. “It will need to be broken for any to even cross the runes. And breaking a barrier made by someone with a level 31 in warding will be no easy chore.” He boasted.
Arizo’s eyes almost fell out of her head. “A level 31 in warding!!”
“So he’s a level 31?” I asked. “No wonder he made mince meat out of my boss.”
“No, he’s probably at a much higher level. Warding isn’t an easy skill to level up.”
“We should leave a tribute.” Mika advised before I could reply.
Olive gave a wide grin and moved over to the shield. She spread her arms wide hugging the barrier and gave it a loud kiss. “Thank you for letting us explore and for any of the future plants mom and I come to harvest. Grow well.” She announced, then turned back to the others, who were just shaking their heads at her.
We laughed at her enthusiasm.
“I can’t wait for her to come back.” I said as they turned away.
Arizo nodding in agreement. “That will probably be a while. They will need to tell others what they found, rest and resupply.”
“Just curious, can I change things while they are in here?”
“You can change things on any floor that doesn’t have a challenger, and you can change what is in treasure chests. But you can’t move around the rooms or add monsters on floors that are occupied.”
“What about bringing them up from the next floor? If someone trying to kill us was in here could I overwhelm them with monsters from the floor below?”
“Yes, but remember there is a limit to the dp on each floor. And the size of your steps would stop giant creatures from moving up the floors. I also don’t recommend it as people may think you have gone mad.”
I sent her a nod and settled in thinking about this first dive while they left.
“Why did a regular forest rabbit give me access to angora hair?” I asked out of the blue.
“To help you grow. Some creatures that have a more desirable sister species out there will give you access to the better item.” She paused “Sorry if I’m not making sense. The chances of an angora rabbit walking in here or being given to us are so small that the system that governs dungeons unlocks it when you unlock any rabbit blueprint.”
“Ok. Why do I feel too small?”
“I’m not sure.” She said with a frown. “I would guess it’s due to having so many items and blueprints that aren’t being used. Once you populate your next floor it should ease. Though since you are a level 4 now it might take making a 3rd floor before you feel more comfortable.”
“I don’t even know what to do with my 3rd floor yet. Hopefully the feeling passes when I finish this floor and move my core deeper. I’m not going to start digging another floor before I have an idea of what to do with it.”
Arizo patted my core and flew up into one of the trees to give me some space.
Before I could do anything else the group finally exited and the items they left dissolved. Most of what they left wasn’t enough to unlock any blueprints.
317 Experience Gained
Blueprint Unlocked: Titanium Coins
Titanium Coins: The lowest valued coins due to the abundance of titanium.
“That is a very vague description.” I commented.
Arizo gave a secretive smile. “Try making a coin.”
I would roll my eyes if I had any, but I did as she asked. There was a popup before it would let me make a coin. “Why do I need to pick a shape?”
She grinned. “There are 3 metals and 4 shapes that are used as coins in this world. Dungeons can make anything so the value of metals that are hard to find out in the world is lowered. So people use the hardest metals to work. Titanium has the lowest value, because it’s easy to find in the world, dungeons often unlock it on their own. Tungsten is the mid tier coin and Mithril is the most valuable.”
“Ok but what about the shapes?”
“Round is the lowest. It’s easier to make a round coin I guess. Then the triangle, followed by the square. Orbs are the most valuable.”
“So what are their values?”
“Round titanium coins are the base value of one. Triangle is worth 5 round, square is 10 round and orb is 25. Round tungsten is worth 10 round titanium. The other shapes are 20, 50 and 100. Mithril is another jump in value as the round ones are worth 25 titanium rounds. Then 50, 100 and 500.”
“By that logic mithril must be a beast to make.”
“Yes, mithril is an alloy of aluminum, titanium, tungsten and osmium. All of which are hard to work and must be in just the right balance.”
“That’s interesting. I wonder if I will unlock mithril before or after I unlock all the metals that make it up?”
“Most likely after, as there are few people that will carry mithril coins. Even if they do they will likely only give you one. For some reason people seem to think that you can make anything from just one example.”
“Yeah that would be far too easy.” I said sarcastically. I still didn’t care for all the restrictions placed on cores.
Leaving the issue of money I looked over the 2nd floor. It was almost done. I just needed a couple more details and I would be ready for the boss room. With that thought I set to work.
Finishing the halls didn’t take long then came the massive boss room. I made it almost twice the size of the one on the first floor. Seeing how tired the group was just crossing my first floor I decided to put a resting room, between the boss room and my core. I made it small, about the size of the kobold bedroom. A small fire pit in one corner. Door opposite the one to enter led to the hall where my core would go.
“Arizo.” I called to get her attention.
“Yes?” She seemed eager to help.
“Are you bored?” I changed my question after hearing her tone.
“A bit, but there’s nothing you can really do about it.” She admitted. Her face was turned down. I tuned into the connection we had to get a better sense of her emotions. I felt sadness.
“Are you sad because you have nothing to do or are you sad because you’re bored and don’t think you should be?”
She gave a weak chuckle and sat in the chair I made for her. “You are wiser than your age.”
“Why do you think you shouldn’t be bored?”
“I’m a dungeon fairy in a dungeon. I should be happy.” Arizo was getting more upset.
“But you miss your students and friends. You are used to more freedom and not being stuck here with me as I do boring digging.”
Her face colored in shame as she looked away from me. Looks like I read things right.
“You can leave you know.” She looked back at me with tears in her eyes. “You can go play with the kobolds, mimics, even the noisy chickens. You can leave the cave and explore our new home. Or you could invite you fairy friends to come visit.”
The fear that I felt spike when I said she could leave vanished as I continued speaking. By the end she was quietly crying, her glow brighter with happiness.
“I could ask other fairies to come visit?”
“Of course. This is your home as much as mine. Some of your students might like a hands on lesson in a real dungeon.”
She chuckled. “Unfortunately that can’t happen. Dungeon fairies can’t leave our realm unless we are bound to a dungeon. But I could get one of the runemasters to make a more permanent doorway so my friends can come and visit.”
“Before you go to check on that, how do I move my core down to the next floor?”
Arizo gave a big laugh wiping the tears from her face. She came over and hugged my core. “I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve you.”
Once she was calmed she told me how to move my core room. “You must have claimed the area the core is going. Then you highlight the section where it will move to, like you are building a room there. Then… well…. Like some of the other things the next part is hard to tell you because it’s something I can’t really see. But focusing on the area should pull up a box to move the core room. And when you do move it there will be an achievement.”
I did as she said and focused on where I wanted to move. I had to try focusing several times in different ways but finally a box popped up. My options were; Move Core Room, Link Floors and Link to Exit.
Before moving I had another question. “Do I need to link my floors? And what is Link to Exit?”
“If there is a direct path, like your spiral stairs, you don’t need to link the floors. If you want to make them just layers without building steps between then you must have a floor connected or linked so there is still a path to the surface.” She warned. “Linking to exit is what it says. If the doorway is used then the people passing through appear just inside your entrance.”
“Thank you for explaining. I’m moving us now.” Selecting the area and opening the window was much easier now that I had done it once.
There was a bit of a rumble and I felt like I was being stretched too thin. As the discomfort built I nearly panicked wondering if I had done something wrong.
In an instant everything snapped into place. The discomfort was gone and after checking that nothing had been damaged I noticed that the feeling of being too small had lessened as well. Instead of too small the feeling must have been too shallow. Too close to the entrance, and not safe enough, because now that I was much deeper and there was more room between me and the outside I felt a layer of worry and fear I hadn’t even noticed lessen as well.
Deeper We Go
Move the core one floor deeper
“Alright. Now that we’ve moved you can go and talk to the other fairies and get us a door.”
Arizo beamed and kissed my core before opening the gate and rushing through.
I would shake my head if I could.
Next I made a room almost identical to my core room where it had been. In there I placed honeysuckles by the door and 2 cherry trees in the back corners. I made a fire pit in the center of the room with benches around it to rest. Remembering that I got XP over time for people just being in my dungeon I decided to make a place for them to sleep.
Blueprint Unlocked: Bed
Blueprint Unlocked: Hide Blanket
Blueprint Unlocked: Vine Pillow
Bed: A place to sleep
Hide blanket: it’s warm but it still smells like the animal it came from.
Vine Pillow: Made of woven vines and stuffed with dried grass it’s not much but better than nothing.
I sighed once more. I didn’t have enough blueprints to make comfort items. And I wasn’t going to use angora wool on the first floor. I dropped another bed in the room and a barrel of water. With a grumble I left it.
Blueprint Unlocked: Barrell
Barrell: a sturdy wooden container reinforced with iron bands
That done, I made a stone arch on one wall and a heavy granite door. I focused on the door and liked it to the entrance. I could feel mana leave me and do something but I couldn’t really see anything different. The key for that door would be dropped by the floor boss.
Along the same vein I made another arch Identical to that one in my entrance hall. I put 2 hash marks over it. Which would have to do until I could figure out writing. I linked that one to another arch in the break room of the first floor. That key I didn’t plan on dropping unless I liked the group and would give them a pass on the first level.
In the small resting room I made on the second floor, near my core, I put another arch and link to the entrance. Letting people leave was no problem for me. Them getting to skip closer to my core was going to be a privilege.
Looking over my second floor I decided to change up the water feature. Turning it from the little pool I found into a small stream that ran from where the tiny cave had been diagonal across some of my hallways down past the other resting room. When it crossed the halls I made little grates in the floor and let the water run under. That would add more sound and interest. I made a door off that resting room with a little dock. Deeping the water and putting a little stool at the end of the dock to sit and fish.
But the water was still….. I focused on the water and like with the other pop ups it took some time and trial but finally a box came up that would let me cycle the water. I just had to choose the start and end point for the flow. The water would then move from the start point to the end then magically appear back at the start. There was also an option for making a whirlpool or a geyser but I held off on those for now.
I noticed a spot where 2 dead ends were rather close together. Ohhh this area could use a pit and have a rocky bottom with a couple hidden treasures and a place for 2 flying foxes and a half dozen bats. Near there I put another random area for fishing.
Now I was satisfied with the look. Time for the creatures. I put 4 more bats over the biggest area of water bringing the floor total to 10. Then I turned to the boss room.
I made a rat snake in the room and focused. The popup appeared and I made it my boss. Once the magic took hold I stood back and watched.
The room changed and shifted. Instead of a nice big dome it became more like a collapsed ruin. Chucks of stone and boulders littered the ground and would make it hard for opponents to move around. There were some dips and crumbling parts of the floor adding depth to the environment.
Once the room was set my little rat snake was encased in light and began to grow. I watched and waited in anticipation. My only regret was that Arizo wasn’t here, but I had gotten so excited.
As if she heard me call, her door opened. “Sorry I started without you. Look!” I told her all but shoving the visual of the boss being made at her.
Instead of a reply she watched, enraptured like I was. After what felt like an eternity the light finally dimmed and we could see the second boss. He was now 20 feet long and 2ft around. In place of brown coloration, his scales were now the same shade as the rocks around him.
“He looks dangerous.” Arizo commented.
“I know!” I replied excited. “I want all my bosses to be as kick ass as the first 2. A threat against any that think our fun games mean we’re weak.”
“He is definitely that. Titan Rat Snake. I think that fits him perfectly.”
I looked at the boss and sure enough that’s what he was called, and he cost 19DP to make.
He explored his new home as we watched him.
Deciding to add to the old decrepit environment of the boss room I dropped in several insects and spiders from the critters tab. Along with 12 brown recluse, they also didn’t cost DP but they were at least a type of spider and not the generic ones that appeared when I used the ‘spiders’ under my critter tab.
Ignoring the insanity I started placing more snakes and spiders throughout the floor. Then I put a golem in both the largest water area and one in the little pool by itself. These I made of crystal and like my boss had them look like a crystal growth until they were to attack. I put a treasure chest near them and had them set so that they would attack when the chest was opened.
Another room I put 4 centipedes in. They freaked me out a bit. One of my lives had an issue with large bugs. As long as I didn’t watch them for too long that voice didn’t start panicking in the back of my mind. Same voice calmed when I put a room full of black racers nearby. I guess in the wild snakes could kill centipedes but here they would ignore each other.
I placed a total of 16 fish in the waters. Only 4 in the pool and the other 12 in the stream I had made. I hoped they did make babies. Only 16 fish wasn’t much to catch. So I added snakes and spiders to the stream. Along with shrimp. That done I split the rest of the floor’s DP between tarantulas and snakes.
“I have a total of 16 rate snakes, 16 black racers, 9 tarantulas and 2 dozen total of wolf spiders, door spiders and brown recluse.” I told Arizo. “That should be enough to spook anyone.”
She shook her head laughing at me. “Yes it should. The runemasters should have the door done in a few days. I told one of my best friends, Tilly, and she wants to have a party when it opens.” Seeing how I had gotten so absorbed in my work she had waited till I was done and addressed her before telling me her news.
I sent her a wave of happiness that nearly knocked her over. “I would love to meet all your friends. If the core room is too small I can hollow out another room onto it for your guests.”
Arizo blushed. “This room is more than large enough and grand enough for my friends to visit. Piopia will likely want to come as well and meet you. It’s rare for a dungeon so young to think of asking if we’d like a permanent way to go back and forth.”
I beamed in pride. “I guess I’m just extra special.”
She giggled. “Now are you adding any puzzles or traps?”
“Yep. The rooms that don’t have any creatures I’m going to add some sequence and shape puzzles that will give them a prize when done. I thought I’d add some spike traps. Maybe some in the floor and some in the walls that pop out if you trip a wire or step on a plate. Not many though. The winding halls and moving stairs are the main tricks to this floor.”
“Sounds like you have this all done. Any ideas for the next floor?”
“All I know for floor 3 is somewhere for my deer and dryad.”
“So a forest area like outside?”
I sent a smile. “That would be perfect. The whole floor can be lined with grass and the stone walls hidden by thick foliage so it looks like they are outside.”
Inspired, I started to dig. Then stopped. I didn’t want everyone to have to walk down the long steps that would be needed to give my trees space to grow to their full height.
Looking over the second floor, I smiled.
Digging a portion of the stream deeper and deeper I started on my 3rd floor by making a waterfall from the second floor. I wrapped the water around the farside of this level giving it different depths.
Leaving that as a basic outline I moved on to the meat of the level. First digging it out of stone. I made the level a basic C shape. Everything was wide and open for now so I could edit it and fill in everything later.
Before I could go into detail another popup happened.
You Have Reached Level 5
Choose a Race
Slimes are amorphous creatures whose origin is unknown. They have great potential and the chance of taking on traits of objects they dissolve. While they are extremely weak and easy to destroy they multiply and mutate quickly.
Fungaloids are giant mushrooms with teeth. They are not mobile but can stretch themselves to reach opponents. They are aggressive and territorial. Fungaloids will attack anything that comes within reach, including other dungeon creatures. Mushrooms are very diverse and therefore these creatures have many evolutionary options, rarely do any of those gain mobility.
Undead creatures are feared and hated by most races. Skeletons are the most basic of undead. They have little health and are slow moving but have a very low cost.
Panthers are large felines that blend in well to their forest homes. There are many varieties of panthers but most keep the same body shape so there are few evolutionary options available. These creatures are naturally shy and will avoid confrontation when possible.
“What do you think Arizo?” I showed her the list of creatures.
“I think Slime or Fugaloid.” I looked at her waiting on an explanation. “Panthers, or something similar probably live in the forest and will find us soon enough. Seeing as how frequently you have been attacked it seems a waste. The same with skeletons. Death’s Blessing hasn’t activated yet but it will eventually, giving you undead to play with.”
“I was thinking the same thing. Deer and Dryads should be plenty for my 3rd floor and while I still have a yearning for slimes they don’t yet fit.”
Multiple Fungal Species Unlocked
Blueprint Unlocked: Red Caps
Blueprint Unlocked: Skull Cap (Fungaloid)
Blueprint Unlocked: Pillow Bell
“What just happened?”
Arizo looked over the popup boxes. “I don’t know. Open your creatures page.”
I did so and there were 3 fungaloids to place. Each dropped some of my other mushroom species.
“My only guess is that due to the number of mushrooms you have found you were granted extra blueprints.”
“That’s as good a guess as any. Now I have more creatures to place on my forest floor. And they all only cost 1DP each.”
I felt a pair of creatures enter my territory. “Look Arizo it’s them.” I showed her what I could see. “The creatures that ran the rabbits in here.”
My view was limited to their legs, only seeing their face as they lowered it to sniff the ground. “Those are coyotes.” Arizo named them.
“I wonder what they are doing and where the other pair is?”
“I don’t know. But you could try to claim them or make a contract with them.”
Thinking back to when I accidentally tried that with the adventuring team I did the same thing with the pair. I knew these creatures mated for life. Using my mana I reached out and touched theirs. A popup appeared.
Form a contract
I didn’t know which one to choose. Mostly because I wasn’t sure of the differences. So I asked.
“Claiming a creature makes them like your dungeon made creatures. You will gain the same control over them as if you had made them and you will unlock their blueprints. They receive a massive power boost when inside the dungeon.”
“Wait a minute.” I pulled up what I could feel from them. “Something has scared them.” They were running as fast as they could away from my dungeon entrance.
“I wonder what could be coming?” Arizo didn’t seem worried. I wasn’t either. Just bummed that I didn’t get a chance to try contacting the coyotes before they ran off.