little significance to large significance
In the coming days, Doc found himself in a predicament. Thanks to the knowledge of his new abilities spreading through the base camp, he found himself swarmed with adventurers all trying to make a living on him. He was forced to constantly pop out new slimes, which thankfully did not increase in cost as long as he had an instance devoid of outsiders. Since the number of instances he could have was unlimited, the tired dungeon lord was forced to create slimes night and day to prevent the more seasoned adventurers from getting too close to his room.
While the majority of adventurers were E through C rank, a few B ranked adventurers sometimes came as part of a weaker team and lead them to the boss room. It was rare, but occasionally his overslime would be defeated and the herbs would be gathered.
After a week of exploring, various changes took place in the base camp and in the dungeon.
The base camp finally finished setting up stores and stalls, creating a miniature town next to the forest. The tavern soon became the most popular spot for adventurers, while the Adventurer Guild outpost was soon assigning various quests to be accomplished.
Due to the nature of Doc's dungeon, the magic enchanting business was doing quite well, attracting various artisans and blacksmiths to the area. The most common weapons were made of copper mined from the dungeon itself. The instances did not start until after the first room, which prevented a surplus of copper and forced the adventurers to assign times for when individuals could mine.
The dungeon underwent a few changes as well, mostly in the variety of slimes. With the first evolution perk unlocked, some of Doc's slimes had undergone evolution and propagated. The most common evolution was the herb slime: a slime created after ingesting a certain amount of herb plants form the heart room. They gained a green color and the abilities to poison or paralyze their prey by shooting small bits of themselves. Their loot expanded to include a slime extract that was used in remedies for poison and paralyzes.
The second slime type that arose came from the pitfall traps where a few unlucky/dumb/"accidentally pushed" feel in and were devoured. This led to the evolution of hungry slimes: pale purple slimes with a hint of grey that actively hunted humans. According to Claire, they were the first step toward gelatinous slimes and had a more intelligent instinct to ambush prey. They also had an increased defense toward physical weapons, though magic still killed them quickly.
The last slime was the rarest form. It arose from slimes that actively ate a variety of living things. Humans and the occasional elf were not the only things to enter Doc's dungeon; sometimes, rats, bugs, bats, birds, and other animals entered as well. The animals somehow bypassed the instances, but were always promptly eaten. This led to the evolution of lesser mimic slimes arose from the variety: blue slimes that could change their form to whatever they had previously eaten. They were weak because they were small and could only copy the form and abilities of anything smaller than themselves. The only exception was a slightly larger blue slime that slept in Claire's house. She had somehow gotten it to change into a bed, and slept on it.
The two new slimes types dropped parts of whatever they had previously eaten, including armor from the hungry slimes and animal parts from the mimics. This increased the value of his dungeon, and thus improved the town's commerce as well. Besides that, there were a curious amount of female adventurers who seemed hell bent on finding something. They always left disappointed, but that never stopped them from coming back.
Doc sighed as he felt the last adventurer group leave his dungeon. He slid into the overslime and relaxed until the slime was a puddle on the floor. Claire flew out of her home and flew over him in circles.
"Oh my Doc, you're melted! Is having a body really such a relaxing thing for you?"
Doc sighed contently, "Being me means I can stay awake and concentrate, but being a slime lets me lose focus and rest. It's a really nice thing, kind of like the baths you take."
Claire turned red, "Do you watch me take a bath? You. . ."
"What are you talking about?" Doc asked, "You know I don't watch your home unless invited. You're the one always talking about how nice a bath is. Anyway, why is watching you take a bath bad?"
Claire coughed awkwardly, "Well, it’s the same feeling as if a person handled your real body."
Doc imagined for a moment, "Okay then, I'll be sure to never watch you bathe. Anyway, how do you think I'm doing as a dungeon?"
Claire landed on the edge of her pedestal and stretched her arms and legs. "Well, you have a good setup going here. The adventurers are happy, the slimes are evolving, and you are gaining a little magic power from every adventurer." She paused, nodding to herself, "I was surprised when you figured out how to passively absorb mana from adventurers on your own."
Doc smiled, "Since I'm kind of averse to killing, it seemed like an obvious thing to try out."
"They still die though."
"Yeah, but I don't cause it. I just don't stop it.”
They shared a slight chuckle. Besides the one incident, Doc hadn't felt the same rush of emotion he had when he had seen the princess in trouble. A few of the women adventurer groups had had accidents and "accidents", but he viewed them with the same indifference he had the men. Only one C ranked adventurer had fallen in his dungeon, and that had not provided a significant boost to his mana capacity; neither had the smatterings of E and D ranked adventurers. The cost had decreased his magical reservoir to slightly less than his original amount before the death of the B ranked jerks, and now only approached his original level.
Claire, of course, kept up reminding him that his growth was substantial for a new dungeon. He still sulked a little bit though on the inside, but was pleased with the new size of his core. Now, he was double his previous body and was larger than Claire, which was a private victory.
"It is kind of boring though." He commented from the ground, "They mostly come in for the copper now, and few actually try to get to my herbs. Killing the herb slimes seem to be enough for them these days."
Claire nodded, "I agree, we need to make a better reward to encourage the greedier adventurers to come deeper."
They thought together for a while, tossing ideas back and forth. Claire dismissed his idea for gold mines, citing that the greed would be too great and his walls would be mined to death. Doc disagreed with her idea of creating pet slimes to be claimed; arguing successfully that he didn't want to give slimes away and he had no idea how to in the first place. After a couple more ridiculous ideas, the two sighed and took a small break.
"Why don't we make better herbs?" He asked from his floor.
"Because we can't grow anything silly. Remember, I got those herbs from the forest myself. Now I can't leave because of the danger from those people outside."
Doc pondered for a moment, "Why don't I make a small path for you to the forest?"
Claire's mouth fell open, "Err, I, um . . . yeah that could work." She flew to the corner and began muttering to herself. From what Doc could hear, it was a lot of depressive and self-loathing comments about her inadequacy of being a dungeon fairy.
"Enough of that." He commanded, "You are my only friend and the reason I've gotten this far. I'll punish you if you ever say you aren't good enough for me again."
Claire paused long enough to ask, "What kind of punishment?"
Doc paused, obviously not expecting to give an actual answer. "Um . . . I'll watch you bathe."
The little purple fairy turned into a bright red fireball as she raced around the room, shouting things that offended Doc's non-existent ears. Out of reflex, he made tentacles to cover where he instinctively thought his ears were. Of course, as a slime sound traveled through his body like he was made of water, so the action was pointless.
"Okay okay okay!" He shouted, "I won't do that!" He relaxed as Claire calmed down and returned to her natural purple color, "Seriously, was it that bad a punishment?"
"Yes you dummy! I don't want my naked body to be seen!"
"Without my clothes."
"What are clothes?"
She pointed at her dress.
"Oh, I thought that was another slime sticking to you."
". . ."
Doc had a sudden thought, "So, am I naked too? Do I have to cover my crystal body?"
Claire began to giggle uncontrollably, amazed by the whole situation. "No you silly, you don't need to. You don't have parts for baby making."
"What's baby making?"
Claire paused, "I have no idea. Mommy never got to explaining it to me before I left. I just know she told me to never let anyone look at me in the bath besides other girls and a special person."
Doc was confused, "So I'm not a special person?" He felt kind of sad at the news.
Claire blushed furiously, but became thoughtful. "I guess that's true; you are my special person after all. Okay, you can watch." She lowered her voice, "But please let me know okay?"
"Okay." Doc was happy again. He looked at her again and sent searching feelings toward her, "Now tell me why you got so depressed earlier. I've never seen you like that, and it seems kind of out of character."
Claire frowned and crossed her arms, "I'm not too sure myself. I've never been a negative person, so that was a first for me. Besides, this isn't the first time I've been shown a better way by you."
They both "hmmed" for a while, than shrugged and filed the incident away for later.
"Ready for your forest tunnel?" Doc asked.
Using his mana, Doc expanded his influence down from the dungeon to create a pixie sized tunnel that came up in the forest a safe distance from any human activity. Thanks to his practice, he finished quickly and even had time to add a little stone door in her house that opened into it. Claire happily thanked him and promptly flew into her home and down the new tunnel.
He followed her down the tunnel, but the farther he got the more sluggish his mind felt. "Sorry Claire, I can't go much farther."
"It's okay." She thought back, "I'll be careful. Just watch from there and let me know if you sense anyone coming."
She flew out the exit and began searching the forest in the rapidly approaching twilight. Doc felt increasing frustration as she collected a variety of plant sprouts as she cooed and awed at every little thing.
"Hurry up; I don't like being away for too long."
She stuck her tongue at him, "It's important that I take my time in this decision. I have to pool at all my options and then narrow them down to what I think is best. Oh, what a pretty flower!"
Doc mentally slapped his crystal at her actions. He groaned, and then paused as he felt something.
"Claire, something is coming this way." He frowned as felt the vibrations in the earth, "It feels like horses, but smaller."
Instantly, she flew back over to him, holding as many plants as she could carry. "Close the tunnel, close the tunnel!" She cried out as she entered the tunnel. While confused, Doc obeyed and closed the tunnel with stone. Once it was done, Claire breathed out in relief as her legs failed and she sat on the ground.
"What was coming?" He asked her.
Claire shuddered visibly, "Wolves. Those were wolves in the woods. Wolves are a type of predator that hunt in packs. All the new activity must have attracted them to the area."
"What do they look like?" He asked curiously,
"You don't have anything to imagine them with." She explained, "It's better to wait till they get closer to you and then you can see them for yourself."
"Can the slimes eat them?"
"I doubt the mimics will be able to, but your overslime should have no problem. Like all monsters and animals, the wolves will be naturally drawn to the magical nature of your dungeon for safety. You'll have to decide what to do with them then; whether to keep them or eat them. I had a brother who was eaten by a wild wolf, so I'll be hiding when they come."
Doc nodded, "Okay, I'll worry about that later. Did you get anything useful?"
Holding out a thumbs up, Claire smiled in satisfaction as she examined the plants, "I did indeed. The herbs you currently have are uncommon, but are still rank E herbs. I managed to get a few D ranked poisons, and this." She held out a tiny sprout that glowed softly, "This is a C ranked plant known as Moonglow. It's only found during the full moon, so we got really lucky. The herbalists would love to get even a small bit of it for potions and the like."
"Great! Let's plant it in the room on the ceiling so it can light the room some. A lot of the adventurers are complaining about the dim purple light."
Claire rolled her eyes, "Of course they are silly, purple light is bothersome to most eyes after all. Just use the torches from the dead adventurers and put them in your walls."
"Oh, that makes sense."
They headed back together as the sun finally winked out of the sky. A long howl filled the woods, and the night came to life.