The Discarded, Half-Eaten Apple Core New Life. An OP Dungeon Post-Apocalyptic LitRPG.by
Infinite Monkeys Bending Reality
Damn, we were fucked.
Would firing my military grade 60kW laz0rs hurt that thing? Was it the time to sing "Only my railgun can shoot it"?
I had no idea. I didn't have either of those too. The massive three-headed Kaiju made out of tentacles was impossible to not look at. Its sheer size and movements were horrifying and mesmerizing at the same time. I had the same feeling when using Daydream but with the opposite effect. I felt insignificant but something anathema to the ginormous Infernale. The common types – not (Common) – seemed just like mutated Clive Barker / Junji Ito animals. But that? It defied logic. I bet many a man had lost his mind and sanity just by gazing into that.
That was some chthonic-eldritch-Lovecraftian shit right there.
I had to talk to Marshall. I knocked on his door by flinging pears out of a large slingshot. It didn't count as either a weapon or a trap because nobody working in that palace would be even bruised by a flying pear. The man quickly appeared.
"Hey, stop wasting good food!"
<I want my books. Where are my books? I might do something about that thing if you get me my books.>
"They're with the caravan."
I was kind of freaking out at that point. A single book on programming would mean the world to me. One about computer O.S.? Either would save me months of research and development.
<Get all the books the caravan is carrying. No matter what. I'll return them later and even gift the owner with something nice.>
Some servants were watching from a corner of the building, staring at the ruined fruit.
<I'll get your people some fruit. Tell them they don't need to eat from the ground.>
"I'll do what you ask. Confiscate all books, take note of the former owner, and bring them to you. Right?"
<Yes. Once I have a book in my hands, I can make endless copies of it.>
"You're a Dungeon, you don't have hands. Though you were human once, right?"
<More human than you, yes.>
Marshall let out a peal of dry laughter. "Right. It's a deal. Will you shake?" He reached out with his hand. I Replicated an armored Josselyn chassis and had her walk to shake his hand. "Neat trick." His smile never faltered.
He went back to his palace (now a real palace) and I shifted my focus back to my data center. My pen and paper data center.
With the improvements to my Control Attribute and Willpower, I added three more chimpanzees to each coding team. We were now tackling the Z-80 BIOS problem. It made no sense to start with something as complex as a 486. If I had a functional computer system, I could use it to code the next generation. Better yet, a subset of the Z80 instruction was compatible with the 8088 series of chips, including the 468. So I would port the BIOS and basic assembly easier from one system to another.
I kept a System window the circuit diagram for the Z80 processor and BIOS EPROM in front of me and directed the monkeys to write possible solutions. My focus was entirely on that task.
> For finding a bug in your code, Professor Donald Knuth gave you 8 Experience points.
[...] 12 similar messages were suppressed.
Another week passed and the caravan finally reached our gates. I had the monkeys drop the pencils and go to their resting zone but didn't call the next group.
I shifted my focus and cast a beacon over the entire caravan. While I couldn't assimilate or replicate or spawn stuff near people, my perception was only blocked by wards. I took notice of the books in the caravan, mostly fiction, and then the warded lock boxes I couldn't peek inside.
Marshall himself came to greet these people. I noticed how he discreetly checked each warrior to see if they would be a problem or a challenge to him. This was a world where power ruled absolutely. The strong took what they wanted, and the weak, including those weak in the mind, had no choice but to submit. While he talked to the caravan leaders, I extended several thin glass tubes up. Then I had them connect to each other above the caravan, forming a glass ceiling. Reinforced by my Hardened Dungeon Walls Perk, it stood in place.
"Well, gentlemen. There's the issue of customs inspection. There are some things you must know. Slavery is forbidden here. All slaves must be freed or their slave owners won't be allowed in this city. In fact, my men will question every person, man, woman, and child if they wanted to enter Pitsmouth. Also, I am confiscating every book or tome you brought. They will be returned after we verify them for forbidden content. Some works are not allowed here. Furthermore, we need to check inside every warded lockbox."
The inspection procedure took hours. People who were on foot with their meager possessions were expedited inside, something that irritated the wealthy merchants and disenfranchised Lords very much.
"Welcome to Pitsmouth," the guard told one such refugee. "Put your hand on the wall." The refugee complied. I had scanned him and he had no contraband. The section of the wall behind his hand lit up green. "You may enter. Next!"
And this way I helped vet every person who was coming inside.
"Welcome to Pitsmouth," he told the next person. This guy had a book in his backpack. When it came the moment of lighting up the wall, I shone it yellow. "Sir, do you have any tome, journal, book, or notepad in your possession?"
"I-I do," the refugee stammered.
"Please surrender it. Tell me your name and general Class classification. Your book will be returned tomorrow at this gatehouse, along with a gift."
The man was clearly intimidated. "David Sawyer, laborer." He produced the book. The cover read, "The Azarinth Healer, Volume 9". A fantasy fiction novel. We took it anyway because we didn't want to let people know what kind of books we were looking for. The guard slid the book into a chute and I caught it right after it left the humans' auras. Once it was registered with my database of objects to Replicate, I created a copy for me and a copy in the gatehouse storeroom, along with a paper note with David's name and general class classification.
This process took all day. People quickly learned through word-of-mouth about the customs inspection and started surrendering their haphazardly bound journals, bundles of monster skin with scribbles, and genuine tomes. Nothing of value, mostly old novels and some comics, manga, or some yellowed magazine. We took it all.
Late in the afternoon, the merchants and nobles started complaining loudly about sleeping in the open. They hadn't surrendered their warded lock boxes despite Marshall's best diplomatic attempts. Marshall let them simmer and approached the gate, followed by four guardsmen carrying crates full of books.
"Dungeon, here is your share of tomes and profits for the last few months. I hope you enjoy it. Guys, start sliding the tomes in this chute."
The guards put the crates down next to the chute and emptied it. Book after book, yellowed, moldy, well-preserved, but none new was added to my collection. Those were technical or science books, most of them conference proceedings or volumes of scientific publications. Then among them, one gem. Professor Knuth's "The art of computer programming". A series of college books on physics, then Sedra's Microelectronic circuits, and several volumes of the Python bible (though volume 3 was missing).
I was ecstatic. One of the last tomes was Peter Norton's Guide to MSDOS 6.2. Which was for users but would give me great insights into the inner workings of the O.S.
Marshall was back with the well-clothed and well-guarded people, who had only refrained from attacking because they were warned beforehand that any act of violence would end with their deaths. They all knew of our partnership and that they were already inside my Dungeon. I even had a tree on a huge pot transported on rails underneath them to put them in range of my Peace of the Forest Perk. Though Marshall didn't know about that one yet.
The sun vanished below the horizon. I lit up the glass roof and pillars to give them light and dispel any attempt at performing any cloak and dagger hijinks. We had already captured a few dozen people who tried their luck climbing my walls with crappy stealth Skills.
"Our inspection is almost done," Marshall declared. "But there's the matter of a few warded lock boxes we need to check."
"That's preposterous!" One nobleman roared.
"You are free to try your luck in the wasteland. There are some buildings still standing a few miles away." Marshall replied with all the calm and confidence he could muster.
I prepared myself to execute a heist.
"Are you submitting to the inspections?" Marshall asked. He also activated his flight ring but didn't take off. But he removed his weight from the ground.
"No! We demand shelter!"
"Then open your lockboxes. I cannot guarantee your safety out here. Know what, whatever happens next is on you."
I couldn't change the ground near them but I could change the ground underneath the ground underneath them. I dug a hole forty feet deep underneath the remainder of the caravan, which now was only the merchants, nobles, and their guards.
But I wouldn't go with the "collapse the road under the caravan" plan. I had something much better in mind. I opened two ramps on the sides of the parked caravan. Elephants pushing tree pots on wheels climbed up, flanked by tigers and gorillas. A troop of monkeys wearing military uniforms filed between the larger animals and stood in front.
"What is this? Monsters?"
The guards prepared for battle.
Marshall raised his hands, "You are not inside my city. My hands are tied. These are Dungeon creatures. They are not allowed to attack you but they will fight back if you do."
The chimpanzees went straight for the warded lockboxes. Some went to take the books I could see inside crates or trunks.
"Hey, don't touch that!" A guard slashed a chimpanzee in half.
I had ten air raid sirens go off at once. The sound startled the people and chaos ensued. The guard who struck the chimpanzee had a sudden bout of weakness as his Attributes' efficiency rating dropped by 50% – not half, but 50% less. – The animals next to him went into a frenzy, doubling their combat efficiency. Two gorillas seized the man by the arms and pulled, ripping both limbs out of their sockets.
Chimpanzees ran away with their prizes. Tigers and gorillas fought guards and even with the combat bonuses, they were losing badly. It didn't matter. Throughout the day, we had over two hundred thousand people enter the city. Everyone in this caravan was inside my Dungeon. I had twelve underground floors, the training grounds. the farmland. the tree farm. All of these places were pumping Dungeon Mana into my Core at all times, at a rate of seven DM per second.
For every animal that died, another spawned and took its place. Chimpanzees sent crates and trunks sliding down the ramps Even those I hadn't marked. The pack animals, recognizing predators with their genetic memory, panicked. Most of them weren't latched to the vehicles and they ran away into the wilderness.
My animals hadn't killed anyone yet. The people they incapacitated were ignored because of a rule I set on Dungeon Automation. Every time an animal tried to deliver the killing blow, it was controlled and directed to fight elsewhere.
As the fight evolved, I reabsorbed corpses and abandoned wagons to recoup my Substance reserves. Marshall and his men stood stoically by the closed portcullis, watching the fight evolve. He would be forced to act if any of the refugees attempted to descend the ramps but the elephants stood behind defending the trees.
Phase two started. I sent Kodiak bears. Yeah, those fifteen-hundred-pound rays of sunshine and fury. Don't ask me why they count as plains animals. I bet they must have some grassland on their Alaskan island. The bears came from one side only. I had closed the ramp on the left, leaving only the elephants and trees outside.
"It's an endless horde!" A guard despaired.
I also started growing grass further behind the elephants on the left side. Predictably, the wounded and tired warriors retreated there, and when they walked on the grass, they activated my trap card!
Pacifying grass sapped their will to fight. What a wonderful combo. Peace of the Forest removed 50% of their Willpower efficiency, which to most of them was actually half of their Willpower. Then they had to contend with my Wisdom score and it was a wash. Warrior after warrior sat down and touched grass. Figurative and literally.
"Get back in the fight, you lazy bums!" One of the merchants tried to cajole his bodyguards to no effect. Unless these guys broke out of my spell, they were out of the fight for good.
And every warrior who put down his sword to rest on the grass was one less putting up a resistance against my animals. Soon, the remaining defenders were routed. That allowed my chimpanzees to steal, I mean, confiscate the remainder of the warded containers. When I confirmed nothing of interest remained in the caravans, I had my creatures withdraw. They fled down the ramp, and the elephants brought their trees with them. The ones on the left had to trample a few carts but hey, can't make an omelet...
The remaining warriors didn't go after the beasts. Some chimpanzees moved the ones incapacitated away or dragged my animal's corpses back and I reclaimed them.
Overall, it was a net profit for the guards. They earned some Experience, got a solid opportunity to develop their Skills, and I hadn't killed a single person. I got my books, the warded trunks and crates, and lock boxes, and a few other knickknacks the chimpanzees found interesting.
I dropped a pebble on Marshall's head. He snatched it without looking. <Tell the Nobles and Merchants they have my permission to come down the ramp and retrieve the Items I confiscated. If they don't come down, they agree to forfeit it.>
The Lord laughed. He told the people exactly that. Nobody came for their stuff.
Bio: The author would like to reinforce for the umpteenth time that the characters' opinions are their own, may be intentionally wrong, do not reflect my (MDW's) personal viewpoints neither are included in this work to further any political agenda (I don't even live in the same hemisphere or country as you, whichever those are. I'm writing from the Earth-Sun L3 point for all I care). My works serve no purpose other than to tell stories with conflicting viewpoints. Use of the reader's critical sense is highly advised.