It had been a long argument and Valens wasn’t sore about losing, again, he could be the bigger person. So to recap, we're going with the lizard. Magnus looked entirely too pleased with himself, but the core was forced to acknowledge that he had been right. After the first few evolutions, the dragon bloodline is stronger than almost any other species. The goblin bloodline could probably compete with them in raw strength. The drake scowled at that. But by every other measure, the dragon bloodline is better.
That is correct, I’m so glad we could come to a consensus, Valens.
The core huffed irritably, Still, why isn’t using snake a good idea again? Didn’t you say that their bloodline is very strong as well? It was a bit of a struggle to get Magnus to praise any other species other than his own.
Well yes, it is a good bloodline as a cousin to the dragon bloodline. However, snakes and lizards have a really low chance of actually evolving down those paths. More often they just evolve into primal beasts which is a dead-end evolutionarily, without the presence of a catalyst. We can use my blood as a catalyst for a lizard but we would be gambling on the snake evolving how we wanted it to and if it didn’t we would have to scrap the boss and start over.
Would it really be that bad? What's wrong with the primal beast evolution anyway? Magnus was an absolute fountain of information when it came to most anything or rather his book was.
The drake rapidly leafed through his tomb until he arrived at the relevant section. The problem with primal beasts is they are capped at tier five and can’t evolve again. This makes them a terrible idea for a boss.
You still haven’t explained tiers though and where do I get the lizard template again.
Tiers aren’t that difficult to understand, once you have leveled enough you can evolve into a new species which is one tier above what you previously were. So the higher the tier the better and having an inherently limited boss is stupid. Also, you should be able to get the lizard template from me just focus on our bond. I told you that already.
Fine, let's do this. Valens hoped that Magnus wasn’t exaggerating things about the dragon bloodline, but the drake had proved trustworthy so far. Focusing his senses and blocking out the first floor Valens' mind delved into the link connecting him and Magnus. Through the link, Valens was able to directly view the drake template, and most of it went completely over his head. If he had been forced to absorb this much knowledge his core would have exploded on the spot, fortunately, he only needed to understand the tiniest fraction of the patter. In the distant past, Magnus had evolved from a lizard himself and the record of that body was still engraved on his spirit even after many subsequent evolutions.
Reaching out Valens grasp stopped short of the drake’s spirit, unable to interact with it, but he could study it. The core didn’t know how long he spent in complete focus but eventually, he learned all that he could about the lizard template. He had tried to understand the next tier of the template but wasn’t able to fully grasp the intricacies of the template yet. One day that would change but for now, he was at his limit.
The small lizard popped into existence and Valens was frankly a little disappointed in his future boss. The thing was small even about the size of a mouse but the mana coast had been somewhere around the coast of making a snake. Now, what Magnus? How do I form the bond?
Just a minute Valens let me make sure that this one is sufficient. Valens was a little confused by what Magnus meant by that but decided to watch and see what happened. Magnus quickly caught up to the little lizard and pinned it to the stone floor with ease. Slicing open his scaly flesh the drake allowed a single drop of blood to roll down his claw. Magnus forced the drop of blood down the unfortunate lizard’s throat then stood back and waited.
The lizard tried to stand then collapsed, Valens watched in horrified fascination as the reptile’s skin began to bubble and steam. Cracks opened in boiling flesh and the lizard expired horrifyingly as its very blood and flesh steam away. What happened?
The lizard failed to adapt to the dragon bloodline. I expected this to happen at least a few times. We just need to keep trying until we get a lizard that works. Magnus seemed very unrepentant about the whole thing, but Valens silently wished its creature well in the next world. Maybe it would last a little longer next time.
Over the next few hours, Valens created dozens of lizards, and all of them were failures. Magnus was starting to get a bit frustrated and kept muttering to himself about how it should have worked by now, but finally, there was a success. The lizard swelled and grew more than tripling in size to end up just below the size of a fox. Its scales also grew more uniform and its claws and teeth looked decidedly more dangerous now. Magnus explained that it wasn’t a true evolution for the lizard but it was quite the drastic change as far as Valens could tell. So that worked, finally. What should I do now?
Magnus seemed relieved that they were finally done, the normally lazy drake was keeping a claw firmly placed on the soon-to-be boss ensuring that it was going nowhere. You need to find the bond between you and your creature, then you need to widen it. This should be pretty easy and instinctive for you as all dungeons eventually figure this out.
Focusing Valens delved into the multitude of bonds that connected him to his minions. Picking out the particular strand that linked to the lizard he sent he peered through it into the still pinned lizard. He didn’t look through the eyes of his creatures very often, he liked his aura more, but he could get a vague impression of the lizard mind along with its senses. The creature seemed rather annoyed and frightened as it struggled to get away from Magnus. The bond between the core and its creature flexed and widened. Valens started getting a much better sense of the lizard, its template, mind, and spirit laid out in front of him like a book.
Magnus let go of the newborn boss and the lizard scampered its way out of the core room into the rather barren second floor. Good job, that was quicker than I thought it would be. Yawning widely the drake settled back down for another nap.
Is it fine just to let her run around wherever she wants? Aren’t my bosses supposed to be my dedicated guardians? Valens hoped that all the effort they had put into the first boss wasn’t being wasted.
Are you talking about that lizard? It should be fine Valens just look for the seed that you should have gotten from the system. Magnus yawned widely and closed his eyes again. Valens was starting to feel annoyed, it sounded like the drake had forgotten something important.
No, I have not gotten a ‘seed’ from the system. I don’t know how to check for anything from the system and yes the lizard is female we should name it at some point.
Magnus opened his eyes and sat up, looking a little guilty. So it isn’t that important for dungeons but you can view your status through self-reflection. Most races tend to use mirrors as crutches to view their status but as a dungeon that's not necessary. Just focus on your physical core until your status pops up.
Sighing to himself Valens focused his sense on his core, looking deeper into the physical structure his status popped up.
Race: Dungeon Core (level NA)
Arena seed available (y/n)...
Figuring the arena seed was what Magnus had been talking about, Valens focused on yes then braced himself. The wave of information he was expecting didn’t come, instead, the core was taught how to create a tiny little seed the size of a pebble. Frankly, the seed didn’t seem that complicated, but he couldn’t tell what made up the seed. Normally the system would identify materials once he had the template for them but not this one, but something else was bothering him about his status.
Hey Magnus, why don’t I have a level or a class?
The drake leafed through his book once again looking for an answer. It's because dungeon cores aren’t normal creatures, and so normal level growth doesn’t apply. The power of a dungeon core is based on the strength of their creatures, that's the accepted reason for why at least. There’s probably more to it but dungeon cores are rather mysterious. Magnus shrugged at a bit of loss and looked a little sorry about not being able to completely answer Valens’ question. The core was a little gratified to see that the drake wasn’t all-knowing, but he really would have appreciated a more complete answer to the question.
Fine then no class but what is up with this seed thing? It doesn’t seem like it does anything.
Magnus chuckled at Valens, just try planting it you might be surprised. Fine then, I’ll figure it out myself then. Valens picked a spot just a little outside of his core room, the lizard boss was hiding under a loose rock in the still tiny second floor. When the seed touched the ground it started to go through a multitude of changes as it sank into the floor.
Valens could feel mana getting sucked into the seed as it changed and grew. The material spread through the wall and ceiling, drinking in the ambient mana and even starting to pull from the core’s reserves. When the changes to the seed stopped there was a shimmer of power around the tunnel as the air rippled, slowly a thread of mana quested out from the seed. The thread slowly unspooled out into the second floor and started moving towards the lizard boss. The string of mana was slow enough and large enough that Valens could have stopped the thread but he wanted to see what would happen.
The thread connected and with a slight pop the lizard vanished, Valens could still feel the connection to the boss but he couldn’t see her anywhere in his aura. Resisting the impulse to ask Magnus what was going on, Valens took another look at the seed, pushing his perception towards the weird ripple in the air. His perception stretched and twisted and suddenly he could see the boss again, there was a little room that was somehow stuck within the seed. The boss was scampering around this area which looked kind of similar to the unfinished second floor, very rocky with lots of places for the lizard to hide and attack from. I don’t get it. What is going on?
Haven’t figured it out yet? Magnus looked up from reading his book.
No, I haven’t Magnus don’t rub it in. I just want an answer, you overgrown lizard. Is that too much to ask?
Well, it's quite simple really, it's the seed that creates a boss room. The room links to one of your bosses and will automatically summon the boss from anywhere in the dungeon whenever an invader enters their room. The rooms will also force invaders to fight the boss before continuing into the dungeon.
Valens fished around the boss room trying to mess with the terrain and add some plants. Why can’t I use my aura in here Magnus? He didn’t like not being able to control a part of his dungeon.
The room doesn’t count as a part of the dungeon, it doesn’t actually have your aura in it. Somehow it draws in only your perception and I have no idea how the room works so don’t ask. Magnus got up and walked over to the boss room and started inspecting the weird ripples in the air. Valens checked on the lizard for more time and had the boss jump on one foot. The comical sight confirmed that he still could give orders to the boss and he decided the room was fine. With a flex of his normal aura, Valens went back to expanding the second floor.